Our guest columnist Stu from Real Beer assures me this is no Cock and Bull story. ...
It's about a beer that is quite probaby New Zealand's most awarded ale, and yet is still virtually unknown to the vast majority of New Zealand beer drinkers. It's Monk's Habit - a beer that even my fellow beer columnist Neil Miller (the hop head) and myself (the malt monster) can agree is great [see this review for explanation, Ed.].
Monk's Habit is a veritable feast for the senses and is certainly not for the faint-hearted (nor, sadly, thanks to Helen's excise tax, for those with shallow pockets). Pouring chestnut brown with a creamy light tan head, the nose is full of toffee, caramel, pine resins and woody spices. Sappy caramelised malt and more of those resinous hops are balanced wonderfully in the mouth, and the finish has that perfect brewers secret - just the right level of bitterness to have you begging for more (a dangerous quality at 7%). My tip: let it warm up, just a little, before drinking, and then savour every drop.
Judges are virtually unanimous - twice Supreme Champion Beer at the NZ Beer Awards, Best in Class at the last two Australian Beer Awards and a swag full of other gold medals from various beer awards. As to Ms Clark's thoughts: perhaps Luke Nicholas - the champion brewer of this and many other fine beers, regular blogger, and man behind RealBeer -- though not behind Helen -- will be able to fill us in on what she thought? Or perhaps readers might like to speculate below... ?
In any case, you can start your own habit on tap at any of the Cock and Bull pubs around Auckland and Hamilton, or at the Malthouse in Wellington. For those of you who don't have the luxury of living near one of these establishments, there is a secret stash of limited release bottles at the brewery (contact Steam Brewing and ask nicely - just tell them Stu sent you).
Slainte mhath Stu
LINKS: Steam Brewing, Monk's Habit, RealBeer