Tag Archives: Porter

Left Coast ‘The Wedge’

Left Coast 'The Wedge'
Left Coast 'The Wedge'

It appears I might have “Black IPA” on the brain. Or hoppy porter, at least — the question of whether the one is the other is an enjoyable piece of modern beer taxonomy for me to ponder as I have a nice glass of something-dark on a wintery evening. I suspect I drink more dark beers in cooler weather,1 and Wellington is capable of serving up a bastard-cold evening every now and then. The local market is keeping me well-stocked, too: the few-days-before-this Funk Estate launch, the new Black Rye IPA from Renaissance (which is a few pages after this, further down the Diary), and — from the looks of it2 — there’ll be three-or-so at the West Coast IPA Challenge at the Malthouse next Friday night.

We had a bit of a house-warming shindig one night not long ago, here at my new (ish — we were slow in organising the party) flat, and I have a strange relationship with parties; I often find myself at a point of people-overdose and want a break. My occasionally-acute aversion to crowds and noise and such is often surprising to people who met me through the fact that I was a bartender for ages upon aeons, but the bartending was genuinely secondary to the prior fact of me being nocturnal. But the great thing — it turns out — about being a host of a party from which you fancy some time off is that your room is right there.

So I hid myself away for a while, wrote up a post — the one about my visit to Josie Bones, which did make me ravenously hungry — and drank this lovely thing. Another U.S. West Coast import from Hashigo, I’d picked it up from Regional, where Kieran and I had a bit of a Black-IPA-related ramble in which he was also3 saying things along the lines of overt hoppiness as necessary but not sufficient for something to be properly “Black IPA”; it being more about the character of that hoppiness. He pointed to ‘The Wedge’ as an example of something that should probably more-properly be “hoppy porter” — but which was no less worthy, for it.

It was exactly what I needed, in a break and beer. A generous 640ml (ish — peculiar Americans and their non-metric measurments…) bottle of loveliness, it kept me company while I hacked away at my keyboard and had genuinely delightful smooth, slightly smoky body that didn’t really even hint at its not-insubstantial strength. It was all chocolate and fruit, with a more-wintery kind of nose than Funk Estate’s beer, but I start to get hopelessly out of my league, sometimes, when it comes to identifying particular fruits or their flavours. To me, it tasted gloriously reminiscent of Whittaker’s Berry & Biscuit chocolate,4 with that Black-Forest-esque berries-and-cherry thing going on.

Again, if I had to categorise — if I’m given the taxonomy question like some kind of much-more-fun but much-less-productive travelling naturalist — then this ain’t Black IPA. But that’s just good-natured (I hope) fastidiousness and a concern for how getting the label text right and as helpful as possible is important in terms of ‘outreach’ to new customers / fresh good-beer-converts / anyone with imperfect information and impermanent guidance we can rely on (i.e., all of us). Here, the label is all hops-hops-hops in now-familiar style, but I can’t resist thinking that they’re simultaneously overstating their case and selling themselves short. They weren’t face-punchingly bitter hop notes such as you might get from a West Coast IPA with the h-word on the label that frequently,5 and the chocolatey malt they enriched (and gave that high-dose-cocoa edge) deserved to be called more than “a twist”. This was a fucking marvellous beer; well-balanced and worthy, whatever its label. And once I’d finished the bottle — and hit the Big Blue Publish Button on the post I was writing — I re-emerged from my room and rejoined the party.

Original Diary entry: Left Coast ‘The Wedge’ 26/5/12 @ home, hiding from a party. Writing some blog instead, and with Black IPA on the brain. This is almost smoky, though I did warm it well, and with a duller-fruit nose than PKB or Funk. Struggling to Name That Fruit, as I do. Emma’s beloved Berry & Biscuit chocolate, almost. (7.1%, 1 pt 6 floz, $15-ish) Beautifully smooth + soft. You’d never suspect 7%. This is pitched as BIPA but is in instructively-similar territory to the previous.

Left Coast 'The Wedge', while blogging
Left Coast 'The Wedge', while blogging
Left Coast 'The Wedge', label blurb
Left Coast 'The Wedge', label blurb
Diary II entry #221, Left Coast 'The Wedge'
Diary II entry #221, Left Coast 'The Wedge'

1: I assume. I haven’t actually charted anything, yet. But I do keep meaning to. There should be some amusing number-crunching, graph-making pseudo-mathematics lurking in my Diary.
2: Croucher Patriot was a (fantastic) hoppy-and-black-thing / American-style Porter / American Black Ale / Black IPA, and a ‘Cascade Patriot’ is on the list of contenders. The Yeastie Boys and Liberty Brewing are also again releasing twin beers, as Motueka and Yakima Raven. The place names signify the origin of the hops in each version (N.Z. or U.S.), and — especially after very red Jo’s Yakima Scarlet — Raven pretty-strongly suggests a Black IPA.
3: By “also” I mean like what I was saying about Funk Estate without meaning to imply that Kieran felt the same way about Funk’s beer. I honestly can’t remember which box he thought it best fit.
4: Something I’ve become familiar with (and fond of) through Emma’s enthusiastic-to-the-point-of-obsession liking for it; it accounted for a sizable fraction of her luggage allowance.
5: Given Hashigo’s maximally-cautious method of importing these things, I think it’s disregardably-unlikely that this was a more-aggressive beer that’d just rusted and atrophied down to the milder-mannered thing I met. But I suppose you never know.

The Fourth of July (Last Year)

Anchor Porter, on or after the 4th (depending on your point of view)
Anchor Porter, on or after the 4th (depending on your point of view)

One of the genuinely-many delightful things about celebrating “occasion beers” keyed to non-local occasions is that the magic of timezones can grant you quite a bit more time — in case you’d like to keep the party going, or just if you’re the forgetful and distractable sort.

So I didn’t get around that absurdly sexy Anchor Porter right there until the local day-after the Fourth, which was probably still the actual Fourth, since ours is a large-ish and sedately-spinning planet, around which it takes a while for daylight to circuit. No harm, no foul, right? But gawd is Anchor Porter sexy, in a bookish and interesting way that a hack Hollywood director would be obliged to convey by having it take its glasses off and let its hair down.1 Which is me anthropomorphising to a worrying extent, I realise, but I run of out words to describe the reliable-but-perpetually-exciting loveliness that the beer’s always granted me. I was, therefore, almost glad to’ve run out of time on the local Fourth; it deserves your full attention.

So there we were, last year,2 celebrating the Fourth while we worked, in the company of a handful of lovely people, most of whom could credibly claim some degree of other of Americanness and with a fittingly-fantastic array of four U.S. beers with gloriously-ostentatious tap handles happily assembled.

Victory 'Hop Wallop'
Victory 'Hop Wallop' IPA, a classic case of 'ugly label, gorgeous beer'
Brewaucracy 'Punkin Image, Ltd.', with pumpkin pie
Brewaucracy 'Punkin Image, Ltd.', with my first-ever pumpkin pie
Yeastie Boys 'Her Majesty 2011'
Yeastie Boys 'Her Majesty 2011', after everyone else had finished theirs







My first beer of the night — the rumours are true; one of the few unalloyed joys of bartending is that you occasionally / frequently drink while you work (although the hours and the pay sometimes drive you to it, on balance) — was a ‘Hop Wallop’ IPA from Victory in Pennsylvania, generously shouted-by and shared-with our friend Kimmy (who, if memory serves, hails from nearby). Apparently originally a hop-harvest seasonal, it has all that lovely, intensely-aromatic high-velocity fruit salad kind of zip. It was heady doses of lushness and gorgeousness at the front, quickly replaced by a surprise bitter punch in the neck before it ran off and hid long enough for you to be lulled back by the nose. (Then wham-rinse-repeat happily all the way down the glass.)

We were also lucky enough to all split a rigger / growler / flagon3 of Brewaucracy’s then-new ‘Punkin Image, Ltd.’, a pumpkin beer and, as such, something very American while being not at all Fourth-ish. They’re traditionally Thanksgiving-related things, but when you’re displaced on a spherical planet, the seasons get all ass-backwards. So another of ‘our’ Americans, Annika, made proper pumpkin pie, and an unmistakable home-comfort happiness dawned on very many faces. Except mine. Mine was a face full of skepticism and doubt, since I’ve long held to the maxim that Pumpkins are Pig Food and Pigs are People Food; for peoples to eat pumpkins would be to inadvisably leapfrog the food chain. But I’d previously tried Dogfish Head’s pumpkin beer, and was astounded to find myself enjoying it, so I gave them both a chance — and can happily report that I am, weirdly, very fond indeed of both pumpkin beer and pumpkin pie as much as I still detest pumpkin pumpkin. Maybe it’s a texture problem, with the actual thing, or just the fact that — in both the pies and the beers — any flavour they might’ve had before they went in is completely swamped by deliciously soothing and satisfying winter spices.

Yeastie Boys 'Her Majesty 2011', with womens
Yeastie Boys 'Her Majesty 2011', with delightfully-mad womens
Yeastie Boys 'Her Majesty 2011', blurb #1
Yeastie Boys 'Her Majesty 2011', blurb #1: on style and origins
Yeastie Boys 'Her Majesty 2011', blurb #2
Yeastie Boys 'Her Majesty 2011', blurb #2: on sexism and beer







And finally, I had (in my personal stash, secreted in a corner of the fridge) a great-big bottle of the then-new vintage of Yeastie Boys ‘Her Majesty’. Sharing it with a bunch of my favourite beer-geeky women made enough sense just leveraging off the name, but the label on this vintage went out of its way to deliver a beautiful fuck you to the sadly-prevalent sexism in this business, and that firmly cemented the idea. A rather-radical departure from the previous year’s edition — with which I began my second Beer Diary — other than in the Belgian-yeast department, I have vague memories of it causing some consternation at the Matariki Winter Beers Festival, but I definitely recall enjoying its dry, peachy funk. But it couldn’t really fail, when served according to the directions: “Enjoy responsibilty with friends, laughter and music”. Done.

This year, I’ll be helping out at Hashigo which — owing to the formidable stock of West Coast U.S. beers they import and the statistically-significant fraction of expats in the local craft beer community — is traditionally a busy one. They’ve rather spectacularly one-upped my “Four of July” from Malthouse last year, with eight visiting Americans in a row all along their main bank of taps. Should be a great lark.

Diary II entry #121, The Fourth of July
Diary II entry #121, The Fourth of July

Original Diary entry: The Fourth of July 4/7/11 working @ Malthouse with Petey & Halena. 1) Victory ‘Hop Wallop’ IPA ÷ 2 with Kim, who shouted for the occasion. 8.5% 355ml nicely pale + hazy. Big nose, blunter fruit salad cf. Hop Wired etc., nice big bitter sting, but not lingeringly so. So kind [of] like Punk, in that see-saw 2) Brewaucracy ‘Punkin Image Ltd.’ with Annika’s pumpkin pie! Which is hardly-usual for the Fourth, but this is the other hemisphere. Both were delicious + smooth. So my Pumpkins are Pig Food stance doesn’t apply to pie or beer, it seems. 3) Yeastie Boys ‘Her Majesty 2011’ with Haitch, Amy, Shannon, Annika + Kim — some of my favourite beer-geeky women! Total colour / weight inversion from 2010, but still Belgian & Odd. Light, dry, fruity — peachy, I thought. But what do I know? 4) Anchor Porter. Well, that was the plan. I forgot it until the next night. Such a fucking marvellous thing. Rich + fabulous.

1: Much to the consternation of geeks and just-plain-decent-thinking people alike; we know you can be perfectly sexy with your still hair up and your glasses still on.
2: I’ve been enjoying the increased topicality of posting closer to the day I actually drink a beer, but I’m resolved not to let those beers that I had to vault right over languish unpublished forever. I’ll try and make one calendar year the high-point of my slothful delay, switching back-and-forth between historical and current posts as I go — but leaving that mind-breaking back-dating scheme I formerly used entirely to its retirement.
3: Depending on your linguistic heritage, knowledge of Antipodean slang terms, and/or the state of local trademark law.

Funk Estate Launch / Black IPA

Funk Estate Black IPA
Funk Estate Black IPA

Tuesday, for the vast majority of four long years at the Malthouse, was my standing night off. Which is the kind of predictable-planning luxury that, in the bartending business, is quite a rarity indeed. They were originally granted so that I could go to pub trivia and eventually grew to include a fortnightly and shamelessly-nerdy Dungeons & Dragons night. And somewhere along then way, back when ParrotDog and Garage Project had their Official Launch Shindigs (and the latter went on to make recurring appearances with their 24/24 phase), Tuesday at Hashigo turned into Beer Geek Church.

They’ve kept something going each week for nearly a year now, and there’s always a good crowd of friendly beer nerds in attendance. And — just occasionally — there’s a colossal heaving throng of people, both nerdy and newb, crammed into every inch of available space, beery cheek by beardy jowl. The launch night of Funk Estate was definitively one of those, in the tradition of the aforementioned P.D. and G.P. premieres before it. Like those, this was the début of a new locally-based brewing operation,1 with the added magnetic effects of their main brewing-brain being a Hashigo bartender and a first-keg-goes-out-free launch policy, which shouldn’t ever be underestimated as a method for causing H. sapiens to congregate in dense numbers.

They’ve already got other brews fermenting / conditioning away, but this first release was an as-yet-unnamed Black IPA,2 picking up on a relatively-recent trend in craft brewing that’s only had a few touchdowns in New Zealand so far — notably in Yeastie Boys breakout single3 ‘Pot Kettle Black’ and Croucher’s ‘Patriot’. I’ve struggled (in a curious and nerdy way rather than one that caused any real stress) with this whole “Black IPA” lark, and whether it’s really a thing or if there’s any real reason not to just say hoppy porter, forgoing making up a new Capitalised Style Term in favour of just using an adjective. If anything, Funk’s beer was instructive — in that I think it’s the latter.

Maybe I’m being pedantic — that does sound like something I’d be — but I’d say that a Modified IPA needs some kind of aggressive / assertive hop presence, be it up the nose or on the palate (or, of course, both). There are mild IPAs, to be sure, but those aren’t the ones you’d be talking about were you to pick up the term and transplant it onto a hybrid style. You’d be better off referencing the classic, the archetype, the ur-IPA, when you plonk those three letters somewhere new. Shaun of the Dead deservedly labelled itself a “RomZomCom” because it had genuine romance, full-on zombies, and proper comedy — not vague flirtation, unspecified undead things somewhere in the background, and occasional subtle wordplay. Similarly, Braid is a ‘puzzle/platformer’ because it really is absolutely and full-throatedly both, at the same rewardingly mind-bending, joy-migraine-inducing time.4 So no matter how perfectly-hilarious the hero’s one-liner when he dispatches the villain, the movie’s not automatically transformed — by that alone — into an “Action Comedy”; likewise, no matter how deft your hop addition, your black beer doesn’t necessarily slot into the weirdly-shaped and still-forming “Black IPA” box.

If this wasn’t black, nothing about this would make you instantly reach for the IPA label, but there’s room for a hoppy-and-black thing to not be a “Black IPA”, and still be worthy and wonderful. And this was their first release, perhaps it fell short of the bitterness and punch they intended and maybe it’ll change — but ultimately I genuinely don’t care much for labels and taxonomy (as much as they’ll very-happily distract me a while). This was delicious; rich and sumptuous with metric oodles of chocolatey malt layered with fruity and gorgeous hop flavours. Launch night was a cracking success and I’ve had several tremendously-enjoyable pints around town since, often happily one after another. Shiggy (the aforementioned main brewing-brain) is a passionate and talented homebrewer and is sure to come up with some gems. The local market is increasing in population at a formidable rate, but it still doesn’t feel crowded or even very “herd-ish” at all; everyone’s doing their own thing, and there’s still plenty of room — though I am starting to wonder how soon I’ll need a third notebook.

Original Diary entry: Funk Estate Launch / Black IPA 22/5/12 @ a jam-packed Hashigo. Although I’m writing this much later, such was the jam-packed-ness. Parrot / Garage syndrome, plus buildup + bartender + free beer factors = people all up the stairs. The debut beer is a Black IPA, sufficiently far from the big boom that it doesn’t just seem an act of fashion. Here with Pete + Tim + George, crammed by the wall with no room for notes. The beer is delicious, rich + black with lovely fruity hop notes. But, if anything, not BIPA. Which is weirdly presumptive, for a non-thing, but maybe this is instructively “hoppy porter”. If it were non-black, it’d be closer to ESB — no hop punch or brutality. IPA — to me — need[s] some, whether up the nose or on the tongue. And this is heaps less roasty than PKB (confirmed in-between the tasting-and-writing, for this). But who gives a fuck about style? Not me, other than for positioning. It’s lovely, several-pints-able, and everyone’s having a grand old time.

A veritable throng at the Funk Estate Launch
A veritable throng of people at the Funk Estate Launch
Diary II entry #220.1, Funk Estate Launch / Black IPA
Diary II entry #220.1, Funk Estate Launch / Black IPA
Diary II entry #220.2, Funk Estate Launch / Black IPA
Diary II entry #220.2, Funk Estate Launch / Black IPA

1: Contract brewing, for now, at Aotearoa Brewery (home of the Mata beers)a and with what looks like a few side-batches on the go on the little (i.e., 200L) kit at Massey University. In the local scene at the moment, the “for now” in the previous sentence is pretty-much mandatory, given how frighteningly / surprisingly / inspiringly fast ParrotDog have made the jump to a concrete-and-steelb brewery of their own. Denise Garland, having returned to blogging a little while ago, wrote a great little backgrounder on Funk Estate and also filed a report from Launch Night.
— a: Weirdly, I’ve never enjoyed a Mata beer, though I’ve now enjoyed plural beers to be contract-brewed on their kit. Their own range, in my experience, has always fallen foul of naffness or faultiness. Or, unforgiveably, both. And I know I’m always quick to whine about marketing, but theirs also has an off-puttingly clunky, fudge-and-booties at the market kind of air about it, somehow — with a genuinely awkward sideline of gender politics: a giant banner on their website currently blares “Truth Be Told / Mata Ales & Lager / Passionately Brewed & Handcrafted / By A Woman”, in an apparent collision between buzzword-marketing and some kind of broken haiku.
— b: I’ve learned, with my recent high doses of in-brewery time, that the traditional English idiom “bricks and mortar” (to denote a proper physical thing in business terms) is massively outmoded.
2: ‘Blaxploitation’ was floated as a suggestion by several people — including myself, I believe — which does seem to fit the branding and the beer, although I can’t help but wonder whether four boys of European and Asian descent will ever run into strife with that aesthetic.
3: Given the multitude of musical references in Yeastie Boys beer names, it’s hard not to make an analogy in kind; and it really does fit nicely with their yearly ‘remixes’ and re-imaginings. It wasn’t their first release, but you could think of it as the first recorded single of a buddingly-famous live-jam band (since it was the first of their range to be regularly bottled), and it was certainly the first to emerge into very-many peoples’ attention with its stunning success at Beervana, like Elbow’s ‘Seldom Seen Kid’c winning the Mercury Prize in 2008 after they’d been making albums for years.
— c: Which, probably-not-coincidentally, I’m listening to right now. I should see if I have any funk.
4: I’m probably safe in assuming most of you have seen Shaun. To those likely-very-many of you who’ve never played Braid: seriously, try it. It’s a stunning piece of work, and will ruin your brain in tremendously enjoyable ways — imagine if Darren Aronofsky had made Super Mario Bros..

Post-GABS Afternoon Taphouse Mooch

Post-GABS Taphouse Tasting Paddle
Post-GABS Taphouse Tasting Paddle

When you’re waiting for your plane home to Wellington, when you’ve been staying with friends in the near-Southern suburbs of Melbourne, when you’re in a post-Spectapular state of beery bliss mixed pleasantly with mild lethargy — and when, perhaps, you’re me — there really is no answer to “what shall I do this afternoon?” other than: wander down the road to the Local Taphouse and mooch.1

I do love the Taphouse; it’s just so completely my kind of pub in a bajillion different ways. And to make matters even better, a good friend of mine (and former colleague from two crappy bars here in Wellington) had transplanted there and had the day shift. She fixed me a medically-necessary coffee, ordered an equally-mandatory stonking great big burger and poured a terrifically mood-improving beer in the form of a little glass of Mountain Goat ‘Hightail’, an old favourite of mine. I first met it at Beervana one year, then the leftover kegs joined us at Malthouse, and its easy-going, surefooted and balanced nature admirably coped with the rather unusual “go-with-this-breakfast” task I set.

We sat, we rambled, and we had a few little tasters of various beers. It was a perfect little afternoon at the pub; an ideal dose of simple hospitality after our grand and busy weekend. The Brooklyn East India Pale Ale caught our eye — hailing, as we do, from a country where that style term is famously abused by one of the nation’s biggest-selling mass-market sweet brown lagers2 — and charmed us with its very old-school marmaladey Englishness, as did a bottle of Moon Dog ‘Melon Gibson’, a slightly-sour fruit beer from a “Marvellous Mullets” series (together, brilliantly, with ‘MacGuava’ and ‘Billy Ray Citrus’) and a welcome case of swagger and silliness accompanying worthy and interesting beer, rather than the former being used as a substitute for the latter; Moon Dog seem refreshingly capable of both.

Breakfast of Champions
Breakfast of Champions
Brooklyn E.I.P.A.
Brooklyn E.I.P.A.
Moon Dog 'Melon Gibson'
Moon Dog 'Melon Gibson'






It’s hard to resist a tasting paddle when you’re at the Taphouse,3 so before I realised how little time we had before we needed to head to the airport (through some combination of my lousy memory and being too accustomed to my little City, perhaps), I picked a fairly-random collection of things from the Big Board. Brew Boys’ ‘Ace of Spades’, my first of theirs, would’ve made even better sense with my coffee (but the burger, probably not so much) and was wonderfully fat, full and roasty. The Holgate ‘Temptress’ which followed was a fantastic contrast, with obvious chocolate and vanilla sweetness and the lovely smoothness that Nitrogen can give — and all the niggling dispense issues it can cause, which just kept K.T. happy supplied with a steady stream of leftovers.

Changing favour gears rather drastically to 3 Ravens ‘Ale Noir’, a smoked-and-Pinot-barrelled dark was rather confusing and confronting, but the beer seemed potentially quite interesting — not that I’ll get another chance with it; the brewery seems to’ve closed between then and now, sadly. After all that, Mornington’s IPA, perhaps inevitably, came across as outrageously fruity, almost to the point of absurdity. Generously hefty in the flavour department, it was full of citrus-peel bitterness that crackled across my brain. Those to in combination set me up nicely for the Australian Brewery’s Smoked IPA, which turned out surprisingly accessible; the smoke in ‘Ale Noir’ had that baconny, Rashuns-ish edge, but this had the sparkly notes you get if you squeeze orange peel into a candle flame, which made all the sense in the world given its citrussy pale ale base.

And then, pretty damn sated, we bid farewell and made our way to the airport and back home to Wellington. It was a freakin’ excellent weekend in the dear old Melb, and the Taphouse team deserve a lot of credit for GABS and their utterly-lovely home base. I’ll definitely be back next year, and hopefully considerably sooner than that.

Original Diary entry: Post-GABS Taphouse Afternoon Mooch 14/5/12 with Dom + Dave, and KT behind the bar. Coffee + Hightail + a sublime burger to start, then little tasters of Brooklyn EIPA + Moon Dog Melon Gibson. Before a near obligatory paddle: Australian Brewery Smoked IPA (5.9%), Mornington IPA (6.2%), 3 Ravens ‘Ale Noir’ (Smoked, 5.4% — Their Dark, aged in Pinot Noir barrels), Holgate ‘Temptress’ (Choc porter, 6%), Brewboys ‘Ace of Spades’ (Nitro stout, 5.9%). Going backwards, since nothing really seems strategically obvious. AOS: Big, fat + full roasty bitterness. HT is crazy smooth, vanilla evident (and a bitch to pour, so KT gets plenty of dregs) AN: Weird, a little confusing, but intersting. MIPA: Ludicrously fruit nose, after all those. Big citrus peel bitter body, afterward. SMIPA: Surprisingly accessible, given all that. AN is definitely baconny + Rashuns-y, this just has a little of that burning squeezed-pith sparkle.

Post-GABS Taphouse Big Board
Post-GABS Taphouse Big Board of Beers
Diary II entry #218.1, Post GABS Taphouse Afternoon Mooch
Diary II entry #218.1, Post GABS Taphouse Afternoon Mooch
Diary II entry #218.2, Post GABS Taphouse Afternoon Mooch
Diary II entry #218.2, Post GABS Taphouse Afternoon Mooch

1: Possible idiosyncratic dialect alert: I tend to use mooch in the lesser-but-still legit intransitive sense of “to loiter / wander about aimlessly” rather than the more-pejorative transitive one of “to obtain freely, esp. by subtle begging”. But it also does bear pointing out that Dom (owner of Hashigo Zakea and fellow GABS volunteer) did pick up the tab for all three of us, which was a bloody lovely thing to do.
— a: Coincidentally, I’ve just made another potential-conflict disclosure — because I’ll be joining the Hashigo staff as an occasional fill-in to ease the squeezier weeks in their roster, earn me a little more beer money and keep my bartending muscles from atrophying — so I should get a few words of praise out of the way now, since the following thoughts were ultra-confirmed over GABS weekend. Hashigo really do genuinely invest in their staff (in ways varying from the mundane, like generous staff discount, to the spectacular, such as bringing his second-in-command along to Melbourne most-expenses-paid or arranging staff to go visit breweries and join in making one-off beers), and it shows. Their staff turnover is incredibly low, in an industry famous for high rates but a sector wherein accrued product knowledge and familiarity with regular customers and craft beer notables is absolutely key. The Fork & Brewer, which opened late last year and still hasn’t quite found its feet, is teetering right on the border of complete (i.e. 100%) turnover of its front of house staff — the last time Hashigo had a “new guy” was a year ago. Therein lies a difference worth watching, and worth learning from, if you ask me; it’s a pretty key symptom and cause of the health of any given bar in this scene.
2: Style-wise, Tui is really a “New Zealand Draught”, and (deservedly) cleans up in that category at the local beer awards. D.B., who produce it, are typically proud to shout awards from the hilltops (with a decades-old trophy still boasted on Export Dry’s label, and Tui’s ‘Blond’ sibling crowing about its more-recent successes), but they just can’t quite bring themselves to celebrate Tui being an award-winning something when it’s marketed as a something-else. Given how freely they bullshit about style on all other occasions, that’s frankly a pathetic lack of conviction. (I’d also go further and suggest that beer awards should have a little more muscle on the issue and just bar beers from being entered into categories that are contradicted by their presentation to the public.)
3: I assume. I’ve never tried.


Yeastie Boys ‘Pot Kettle Black: 2010 U.S. Remix’

Yeastie Boys ‘PKB Remix 2010’
Yeastie Boys ‘PKB Remix 2010’

And so then I followed the unknown with something more familiar — as the Tragically Hip once advised,1 seemingly referring to those times when the unknown is a disappointment. It’s also fitting that Diary II would celebrate its Hundred with a Yeastie Boys beer, since their ‘Her Majesty’ was there to break it in back in September last year. 100 entries in 244 days doesn’t strike me as too-bad an average, especially considering that the 300-ish of Diary I took six years on account of some serious slackness and patchiness.

A bottle of regular-edition PKB also showed up in the first-few pages of the new notebook, and I briefly touched upon the ‘remixes’ then — but what I didn’t mention is that they initially kinda pissed me off. Looking way back in my notes, in the original book in June 2009,2 I was delighted by the peculiarity of PKB and its expectation-ruining mix of conspicuous hoppiness and big rich blackness. Then it goes to Beervana (appearing as Beer #19 in my Diary entry for the day)3 and takes out the Stouts & Porters category and wins the Peoples’ Choice award — an impressive melding of meritocracy and democracy which is so far unique. And then it reappared a few months later in a “Stout Remix” incarnation. The original had won the accolades and generated the buzz, and so people were drawn to the Yeastie Boys badge when it showed up on the taps, but they were getting something else. It’s not like I was outraged — by now, you’d probably recognise when that happens — but the bait-and-switch of it struck me as messing with people, or somehow poor form. It took until the following January before a (positive) mention of the First Remix appeared in my notes, when we tapped the last keg of it, at work. The beer had conditioned beautifully, and there’d also been a few more Yeastie Boys beers released in the meantime — the side-by-side comparative Nerdherders,4 an explicitly-vintaged ‘His Majesty’, and the style-bending ‘Plan K’ — which demonstrated the experimentalism that we now recognise as Their Thing. Mild discomfort averted. Now, I get it.

With the original-ish-edition now also regularly available (and with label text that nicely explains what’s going on), the remixes are the perfect way to have your cake and eat it too; a best-of-both-worlds situation if ever there was. The Second Remix, this U.S.-hopped variant right here, was an absurdly-welcome member of my ‘Beer 121: New Zealand Beer for Americans’ tasting — but I’d never gotten around to having more than a sampling-glass-worth until Jono generously brought this into work to share. Working part-time with us while he’s studying journalism, he’s originally a Coffee Nerd who is fast becoming One Of Us Beer Geeks. So we rambled away about our mutual fondness for Hunter S. Thompson, and the vexed question of the difference between porter and stout — great-big 750ml bottles of delicious beer are perfect for such occasions.

Like its First Remix brother did, it was also aging gracefully — getting on towards a year old and still tasting outrageously fresh and fantastic. The typically-citrussy notes of the bold and brash American hops made it reminiscent of Croucher’s ‘Patriot’, though the PKB seemed to have a good deal more solidity where Patriot has sharpness and snap — neither end of the spectrum seems to me less worthy than the other; they’re just different. We were both also struck by the distinct elements of umami we were getting out of it — it’s not uncommon (in my experience) for both devotees and detractors of some black beers to find them oddly-evocative of soy sauce, and I suppose this is what’s at play, since it’s something of an overlooked flavour sensation and thereby harder to put your finger on.

Coincidentally, I’d had a bottle of the regular-edition not too long previously and had also been watching episodes of The Office — in both its (English-language) incarnations. And it occured to me that there you have it, right there; that’s what’s going on. The differences are just as striking as the similarities, the ways in which it changed make perfect sense when you understand the context from which the ingredients are derived — and it’s perfectly-possible to imagine any given person liking one, or the other. Or neither, or both. You couldn’t fault anyone for their particular pair of opinions on the two options. You’re just left marvelling at the variety of the human species, and grateful that there’s a lot of good beer (of dizzyingly-varied differing types) to go around.

Yeastie Boys ‘PKB Remix 2010’
Diary II entry #100, Yeastie Boys ‘PKB Remix 2010’

Verbatim: Yeastie Boys ‘PKB Remix 2010’ 7/5/11 ÷ 2 with Jono @ MH 750ml 6.8% while rambling about HST, journalism + Flying Dog on the stout-porter difference. At a year or so old, this is still outrageously fresh + delicious. Cascade puts it in the camp claimed by Croucher ‘Patriot’ — totally chocolate oranges. With a good whack of the umami sideline that makes us white people say “soy sauce!” occasionally, with a good grunty porter. We’ve got some first-edition PKB in the fridge. Must see how that’s going.


Yeastie Boys ‘PKB Remix 2010’
Yeastie Boys ‘PKB Remix 2010’, blurb #1
Yeastie Boys ‘PKB Remix 2010’
Yeastie Boys ‘PKB Remix 2010’, blurb #2
Yeastie Boys 'Pot Kettle Black', regular edition
Yeastie Boys 'Pot Kettle Black', regular edition

1: In ‘Courage’ from Fully Completely (1992). As I write this up, it was very-recently Canada Day, so I’ve had the Hip stuck in my brain for a week or so. My fondness for them is one of those data points that go together with my weird accent and convince people that I ain’t from ’round here.
2: We had a really fun launch night at work for Pot Kettle Black and a Hallertau-brewed homebrew-competition-winner with the utterly-masterful name ‘Bring Your Daughter to the Porter’. Each was available on handpump and on tap, and I happened to have the night off. I spent a long time plonked on the end of the bar, happily going through several pints of each. In hindsight, neither was a session beer — my notes have them as 6% and “6-point-something%”, a failure of accurate record-keeping which tells you all you need to know.
3: Talking of ill-advised “sessioning” (as I was, above at n2, obviously) I worked after that Beervana visit, and then signed off at midnight because it was officially my 30th Birthday. Six more beers appear in my notes after that, which mostly proves how stubborn my Diary-keeping habit had finally become after years of slackness. I did very little on the Actual Birthday. Which suited me just fine.
4: As I’ve mentioned before, I love these Variant Edition experiments. They’re a great exercise in Science!, an eye-opening learning opportunity, and a great way to discover what you like / don’t like / prefer — and why. Yeastie Boys started with the Nerdherders (varyingly-hopped bitters), and did something similar with their Monsters (varyingly-hopped hoppy pale ales) and their Blondies (an abbey-ish ale and a Kölsch-ish ale produced by different yeasts).

Maui Coconut Porter

Maui Coconut Porter, again
Maui Coconut Porter, again

Either I’m frequently wrong about what I do and don’t like — or I like beer enough that it can turn me around on things that otherwise gross me out. Just to cite two very-recent examples: Yeastie Boys ‘Hud-a-wa” tasted of marmalade, and Emerson’s ‘Taieri George’ is like liquid Hot Cross Buns. Hell, nevermind individual beers: I don’t really even like citrus fruit at all but am frequently delighted by American-esque pale ales.

And then there’s coconut. Barring this — and its part in making the soupy half of a good laksa, and as the sprinkling on the outside of a lamington; two uses in which you can’t really taste it, anyway — I’ve got very little time for coconut. This, though? This is delicious. I’ve had it before, on my Birthday last year, as part of a suite of bloody-marvellous beers which I used to close off the original Diary.1 So I already knew it, and knew it would make a fantastic follower to the stonkingly-beautiful 8 Wired ‘iStout’ Ice Cream Float I’d just had.

I wanted to have it out of some weird sense of solidarity, too, given that a Certain Beer Writer2 had recently been maligning and ridiculing the mere idea of canned beer. That just struck me as needless, outdated, and wrong. As a blurb on these very cans will tell you, Aluminum3 is way better than glass for the storing of beer. It’s lighter, cheaper, more recyclable and utterly opaque — forget the vexed question of what colour glass blocks what types of light best: this isn’t a variously-tinted window, it’s a wall. There’s a stereotypical correlation between cheap-and-crappy beer and cans, sure, but it’s hardly any stronger than the statistical link between beer at all and bad beer. Good beer is still the minority, whatever its packaged in — and to the extent that slightly-more-than-average dodgy beers might be canned than bottled that’s not somehow the can’s fault. And it’s difficult to square anti-can sentiment in people who’ll also say that beer is usually better on tap than from a bottle — kegs are just fucking-great-big cans, made from a different metal, but with all the same advantages for all the same reasons.

Back to the beer. Especially if you followed the footnotes, it’s been a while since I mentioned it, so I’ll reiterate: it’s delicious. Previously-basically-useless coconut finally finds its destiny in providing a gorgeously complementary toasty dryness to the relaxedly rich and chocolatey porter. It’s a softer version of the effect you get with the stronger ‘roastiness’ you might find in a nice stout — which is arguably (though probably not) part the dividing line between porter and stout. You won’t get me near a Bounty Bar, though, so there’s got to be a fair amount texture-aversion going on behind my mostly-anti-coconut stance.

I was never quite sure about a few aspects of the labelling of the can, though. 1) That’s a weirdly-hideous drawing on the front, there. 2) The tagline “Like hot chicks on the beach” hardly seems to make any sense, nevermind the potential gendery sexisty minefield. And 3) “Certified made on Maui”? By who? And how, and why? Was there actually a dispute about this, at some point? I draw attention to these things mostly to point out the sorts of things which pop up in my mind but are quickly forgiven in the presence of a sufficiently-awesome beer. Slagging off Aluminum, or calling it “Aluminium”, though? That I won’t abide.

Verbatim: Maui Brewing Co. Coconut Porter 15/4/11 $10 @ NWT, because cans were recently needlessly maligned, and because it’s lovely. 355ml We bodged it up with Tuatara Porter on the Hopinator, but this is the real deal, and it shows. Light, fresh, delicious. Toasty cocoa / coconut, without any stodge.

Maui Coconut Porter, tagline
Maui Coconut Porter, tagline
Maui Coconut Porter, certification
Maui Coconut Porter, "certification"
Maui Brewing Co. Coconut Porter
Diary II entry #90, Maui Brewing Co. Coconut Porter

1: The latter half of Diary I is still stuck in a Not Uploaded Yet limbo, for which I keep apologising. I really will get around to it, some day. Partially because I’m as much as completeist as I am a procrastinator (imagine the headaches that internal tension causes…), but mostly because there are just some bloody-marvellous beers in there, to which I’m always annoyed I’m unable to refer.
2: Neil Miller. I’m not actually shy about naming names; I just know that him and I are approximately-equally fond of footnotes. [Later edit: on noticing this and a later reference, a More Nuanced Neil appeared than the one who provoked my disbelieving, can-defending near-outrage.]
3: Oh yes: Aluminum. One i. Does not rhyme with Sodium. This isn’t negotiable, and isn’t just one of my peculiar pieces of Occasional North American Idiom.a Humphry Davy — the chemist who properly isolated it identified its existence (and who hired one of my personal heroes, Michael Faraday) — initially called it alumium (since he got it from it occurs in a compound simply called alum), but soon changed his mind (for reasons unknown) to Aluminum. The change to “-ium” stems from an anonymous review in a non-scientific journal, and comes for the inexcusably-daft reason of objecting to the “less classical sound” of Davy’s chosen name. Seriously? Piss off. Some anonymous literary critic doesn’t trump Humphry Motherfucking Davy (come back when you invent and discover a tenth of what he did, whoever you are); you don’t get to overrule the name given to a thing by its discoverer;b and half the goddamn Periodic Table doesn’t have a “classical sound” — who cares? So no. No second i. It’s Aluminum.
— a: Which I certainly do exhibit, and which are mysterious (along with my mangled, Mongrelish accent) because I haven’t been on that continent for more than a few weeks of my entire life; perhaps I just watched too much TV, as a kid.
— a: Er, except in rare cases like when William Herschel (otherwise a seemingly cool guy, and doubtlessly great scientist) discovered Uranus and wanted to call it George’s Star or the Georgian Planet, after the king who just happened to’ve recently given him a stack of cash. But then, I’m still unsure “Uranus” is much better.

Beer 121: The Audiobook

Beer 121 tasting session lineup
Beer 121 tasting session lineup

I’m not sure if any / many of you are sufficiently curious about this to actually push play — whether to eavesdrop on a tasting session, or just to have a sample of my peculiar untraceable accent (and occasionally-substantial lisp) — but we had buckets of fun doing this ‘Beer 121: New Zealand Beer for Americans’ thing, and so I’ll share it regardless.

Two of the attendees proved themselves deviously useful: Jessie (a Californian friend and the catalyst for the event) surreptitiously recorded the proceedings on her fancypantsphone, and George (who was learning to use Audacity for an upcoming beer-related podcast project we’re working on — about which more very soon indeed) edited the thing into beer-sized chunks, and pruned out the more extreme you-had-to-be-there tangents and irrelevances.1

The original post probably makes for something ranging between helpful and compulsory companion reading, since I used the space there to explain what was going on in my brain when I chose the lineup. I’ve also added ‘show notes’ to each beer here, to provide references / ramblings / corrections as required.

Hopefully-temporary note, 31 May 2011: Apologies for the absence of an in-post player. The whatsit that was generating those turns out to be conflicting with the whatsit that handles the gorgeous pop-up display doodads for my photos and Diary scans. As you can tell by the handwavey substitute-words, there, I’m not quite geeky enough to sort that out on my own, just yet. And since every post has pop-up images, but only this one had audio files in this format, something had to give. They should still work as downloads or as in-browser plays, though…

— #1: Tui “East India Pale Ale”

  • Solid data is hard to come by — questionable brewery press releases or absurdly expensive market reports don’t really count — but us New Zealanders do drink masses of this stuff and its barely-discernibly-different siblings. I’ve never heard anyone outside of a state of enthusiasm-induced delirium suggest that craft beer accounts for more than 10% of sales.
  • The ‘Six o’clock swill’ lasted longer than I thought: Pre-WWI to post-WWII. How unforgiveably dim that it spanned a whole generation.
  • Tui is conspicuously sweeter than its otherwise-samey brethren (from my memory, at least), so I always believed the story that it was literally coloured-up with caramel. Hopefully they just use some sweeter, darker malt, but I doubt it — D.B. have conspicuously skirted the ‘sugar question’ on their website.
  • Likewise, D.B. aren’t massively forthcoming on which beers continue to use continuous fermentation. Their ‘How Beer is Made’ flowchart just silently splits in half and doesn’t bother to say which beers take which route.
  • The confused and depressing Tui ratings I mention can be easily found on RateBeer.com and BeerAdvocate.com.
  • And seriously, Penny-farthings are as fascinating as they are stupid.

— #2: Emerson’s Pilsner

  • There was a “Germany” when Pilsner was developed (in 18-42, not 18-seventy-mumble), but it’s not the “Germany” we have now. European history is complicated and seemingly nowhere more so than Deutschland — but I’m told that Bavarians are basically still Bavarian first, German second, anyway.
  • My ‘history and context of pilsner’ is roughly cribbed from Pete Brown.
  • And I don’t mean to short-change this bloody-marvellous beer; we did talk a lot more about it (I feel guilty that its chapter is shorter than Tui’s, I admit), but it was peppered with frequent sidetrackings as we tried to find a suitable North American substitute — still with no success, by the way; suggestions welcome.

— #3: Tuatara APA

  • Jessie had previously described herself as hailing from “within crawling distance” of the Sierra Nevada Brewery.
  • The hops used (at launch) were described in an official blog post. I believe they’ve recently (i.e., after this tasting) joined in several other breweries in switching (largely? partially?) to the new Falconer’s Flight hop blend. The flavour certainly changed around a bit rather suddenly — not for the worst, necessarily, but I still think it’s rather poor form to not, you know, say so.
  • As I finally write this up, Tuatara APA is two weeks shy of its First Birthday, and is still branded “Limited Release”.
  • Synethesia is both inherently interesting and very useful for describing beers — at least in this near-metaphorical, non-pathological form. Flavour seems somehow more subjective than the feel / mood / overall thingness you can sometimes convey if you employ peculiar and emotive similies instead.

— #4: 8 Wired ‘Hopwired’ IPA

  • Number 8 wire isn’t named for a metric or imperial sizing; it was just a more-or-less abritrarily-numbered step on the British Standard Wire Gauge. As the son of an engineer, I can’t tell you how horrified I am to hear myself saying (even for a brief, uncertain and recanted second) that it was 8mm — it’s around half that, sheesh.
  • I’ve gotten the Søren-and-Monique story a little mangled; I blame the fact that for ages, Søren was too busy making good beer to have time to get a website built, so I had to rely on third-hand biographical snippets passed around the Beer Nerd community.
  • Plant & Food Research is the current name of the government-owned entity responsible for hop research and development. NZ Hops is someone you can actually buy these things from, and provides very handy / very nerdy data sheets for the different cultivars.

— #5: Epic / Dogfish Head ‘Portamarillo’

  • My original post has this as Beer #6, but it’s just occurred to me (listening to myself refer to PKB as the one we’ll “finish off with”) that that’s wrong. It was the plan (as you can see from the lineup photo), but we decided to step away from hoppy things so we could step back, fresher.
  • From what I can tell, the Beer Nerd Biography Whisper Mill let me down a little here, too. Sam wasn’t a Levi’s model as a pre-brewing job, he did a Levi’s shoot as a brewer. I think. Google is still letting me down a little, here. The point remains, though, that you have to admit he’s a good-looking man.
  • There is a ‘Brew Masters’ TV show website — and, you know, ahem, torrents.
  • Three Boys ‘Pineapple Lump’ Porter got deservedly-good write-ups online.
  • I had both the Epic / Dogfish Head & Dogfish Head / Epic versions together when ‘Portamarillo’ first appeared in my Diary.

— #6: Yeastie Boys ‘PKB 2010 U.S. Remix’

  • I finally had a bigger dose of this stuff just a few days before writing this up. The ‘New Guy’ at work, Jono, brought in a bottle which he generously halved. Its entry should hopefully be up shortlyish, and it was still tasting marvellous.
  • ‘Pot Kettle Black’ is indeed a Wilco song; so there you go.
  • Stout-versus-porter is a fun topic on its own, but the Usual Story does work well enough for PKB versus PKB Stout Remix.
  • My Diary entry for Deschutes ‘Hop in the Dark’ has my thoughts on the vexed question of just what the hell to name this style.
  • This is the end of the notes.

1: I don’t remotely mean to imply that I don’t endorse the sidetrackings — random table-talk and distractions can be a good chunk of the fun at a beer tasting. Beer is a social drink, after all. But particularly in a crowd where most of us knew each other fairly well, we perhaps got a bit in-jokey and peculiar for a wider audience.

Croucher ‘Patriot’

Croucher 'Patriot', my first proper pint of
Croucher 'Patriot'

So here we are again with the ‘Black IPA’, which I’ll just go with calling it for now (the brewery themselves went with ‘American Black Ale’) and which it seems is cementing itself as quite the trend — though to take a stab at for how long would be patently foolish, as always.

I like these hoppy-but-black / black-but-hoppy beers, as I’ve said a few times before. So I was excited to try Croucher’s ‘Patriot’, since I’m usually rather fond of their stuff — their ‘Vicar’s Vice’ is the only counter-example that comes readily to mind; it was just very much Not My Thing, but it seemed pretty well received by plenty of others, so I’ll just chalk that one up to the blessed subjectivity. Oh. Oh, wait — he says, flipping through his Diary a bit — there was also ‘Mrs. Claus’; I didn’t like that at all. But apparently the little memory-management trick I pulled on my future self by sneaking it into a double-whammy entry worked quite well. Which is nice to know. So let’s press on quickly and pretend we didn’t remember, future-future self…

But this. This impressed me pretty quickly. I was sufficiently enamoured of my first try of it — on Saint Patrick’s Day — that I took a quick snap of my taster glass. And I realise that you don’t all have anywhere near the particular kind of odd brain that I do, so please just trust me when I say: that’s rare. I had my first proper full pint — and thereby made a Diary entry — a few days later. Then had two more pints that day. And have had several more since; its differentness doesn’t outstay its welcome. Compared against its siblings in the Unnameable Style, I found it a bit lighter and thought it was deliciously Jaffa-ish,1 which is probably down to the usually-distinctly-orangey Amarillo hop they used. Really rather delightful, and easily capable of making friends with people ordinarily shy of both the very-dark and the conspicuously-hopped. Which is something of a clever trick, to say the least.

Croucher 'Patriot'
Diary II entry #76, Croucher 'Patriot'

Verbatim: Croucher ‘Patriot’ 19/3/11 5.5% on tap @ MH, shouted by a regular. I am really liking this Black IPA trend, whatever we wind up calling it. This one’s all about the Jaffas, with the very orangey Amarillo hop in abundance. Very smooth; weird but not overwhelming at all. Much better than Croucher’s other recent one-offs, so I hope it joins the roster; which is rumoured. On the name issue, Croucher have gone with “American Black Ale”, which I don’t like because of the breezy “American = hoppy” assumption. This will be a tricky style to name.

Croucher 'Patriot', taster
Croucher 'Patriot', my first taste of
Croucher 'Patriot', my third pint of
Croucher 'Patriot', my third pint of
Croucher 'Patriot', tap badge
Croucher 'Patriot', tap badge and style name

1: Note for aliens from far-flung lands: I mean the chocolate-and-orange flavour of the eponymous candy, rather than the presumably-just-oranges flavour of the actual orange variety — nor do I mean to imply that the beer somehow tastes like a historic port city in Israel. Damn I love the many and varied things you can learn from a Wikipedia Disambiguation Page — and I positively adore the fact that there exists a page entitled ‘Disambiguation (disambiguation)’.

Flying Dog ‘Gonzo’

Flying Dog 'Gonzo'
Flying Dog 'Gonzo'

Good people drink good beer.

So sayeth Hunter S. Thompson on the label, and for what it’s worth I concur.1 I bloody loves this beer. I loves it for its intrinsic goodness and for the circumstances in which I’ve had it — and I’m a mad keen Hunter S. fan,2 so I’m sure his appearance(s) on its livery should be included among those, too.

It’s just utterly delicious; black, boozy and bitter. Full of flavour, but in no way overblown or stunt-ish. Just rich and warming and delicious. And inspiring — with the name, the quote, the artwork that has always gone so well with HST’s stuff — how could you not just sit down and get some writing done, if you had your handy-dandy little laptop with you? I couldn’t not, because I did, if you follow. I plonked myself down in the bar and hacked happily away at my keyboard for quite a while, churning out quite a few Diary entries and generally enjoying my Evening Off.

Turning back to more strictly-Beer-Nerdy topics, I couldn’t help but notice that they label this as an Imperial Porter but also proudly trumpet that it’s an award-winning (American Style) Imperial Stout. Which nicely brings up the question of the porter versus stout difference — and my favourite answer: that, basically, there isn’t one. And as nerdy as I ever get about style names and the boundaries inbetween, this is one of those rare and delightful beers that just shut me right the fuck up and slap a stupid grin on my face. And set me to writing.

Verbatim: Flying Dog ‘Gonzo’ Imperial Porter 11/3/11 $12@HZ 12floz 7.8% 85 IBU I can’t remember if I ever diarised this, or if I just piggybacked on Toby’s one. I bloody loves it. For itself, and for its awesome HST referencing. And I’ve just noticed that they firmly deny a stout / porter difference, calling this both, on the label. Such an awesomely huge flavour, big + warm at the front, then smooth + rich to follow. Can’t resist doing some actual writing, with this in front of me.

Flying Dog 'Gonzo', porter versus stout
Flying Dog 'Gonzo', porter versus stout
Flying Dog 'Gonzo' Imperial Porter
Diary II entry #72, Flying Dog 'Gonzo' Imperial Porter

1: I’m sure that any empirical case I’d try to make here would be drenched in confirmation bias — but still, it seems pretty solid. Certainly if someone sketchy-looking wanders into the bar late at night and starts to wobble the needle on my Muppet Detector, them asking “what’s your cheapest beer?” right out of the gate will start up some horrid-sounding mental alarms.
2: If you are similarly enamoured of HST but the word ‘Transmetropolitan’ means nothing to you, go now to your nearest bookstore / library / internet-shopping-thing. Now. You have your homework; report back. The rest of you — you unfortunate normals — you should check it out too. But let the proper people at it, first.

Rogue Mocha Porter

Rogue Mocha Porter
Rogue Mocha Porter

This is possibly the best instance of a Beer for the Occasion yet recorded in the Diary. After my visit to Hashigo, I wandered back to the Malthouse just before closing to have a beer with Stefan — he’d been our doorman for just over a year, but this was his last night as he was leaving to take over running a bar out in the Hutt. With the help of one of our regulars, I picked this beer from my stash, since it was a Mocha Porter for our Mocha Doorman. But then it lately dawned on me the pun works three times over:

  • rogue noun 2. a mischievous scamp
  • mocha adj. of a brown colour, like mocha coffee
  • porter noun 2(1). a person in control of the entrance to a building (wiktionary.org)

So, a Rogue Mocha Porter for our departing rogue mocha porter. How freaking perfect. Then I just went and piled on the puns — I am really quite seriously unable to help myself, on that score — and noted down the beer itself as smooth but with a bit of a bitter sting, again just like Stefan. Heh.

But that really does bring me nicely to the subject of doormen. We must be one of the more difficult doors to work, in this town; we’re a very civilised little bar, really, but we’re right on the big crazy noisy yahoo-laden party strip. So while we’re a fairly calm sort of a place, we do get our share of Collateral Muppets. Our doormen are our filters, and the best of them (by which I mean Stefan, and Rod, who worked our door for years — before it was in its present location, even) have this freakish, Jedi-like ability to wave away People Who Aren’t Really Our People without being a dick about it or resorting to silly pretend rules about the quality of a person’s shoes or whatnot. All the way, they keep everyone smiling — usually even those rare people who actually need to be eventually escorted from the premises. But damn, if things cross a line, the transformation from Amicable and Welcoming all the way to Serious and Scary is instant and awesome. It’s uncommon enough that a person would possess both temperaments, and exceedingly rare that they’d then also have the skill to flip from one to the other seamlessly and exactly when needed.

Big smiley Jedi like Stefan (and Rod) fit our little bar just perfectly, and in combination with our small staff and its higher-than-usual (for the industry, and for this street in particular) level of Giving a Damn, we’ve had some freakin’ excellent nights when all the smart money would be on carnage and chaos and constant annoyance for all concerned. He’ll be missed, but — much like the earlier one with Scott — it wasn’t a bleak, depressing Farewell, since the new gig does seem like such a good fit. Next time I’m out in the wilds of the Hutt Valley — I’m not just reflexively knocking the place, per Wellingtonian tradition; I used to live there — I’ll have to take the family and go visit.

Rogue Mocha Porter
Diary II entry #68, Rogue Mocha Porter

Verbatim: Rogue Mocha Porter 26/2/11 12 floz 5.1% ÷ 2 w/ Stefan, on his last night @ MH. Mocha Porter for our Mocha Doorman. It’s big + smooth + chocolatey, like Stefan. And a little bit bitter at the end, like Stefan. Heh. And I have to give credit to Annika for the joke / beer pick. There were a few candidates, but this is freakin’ perfect.