Friday, 24 November 2006

Beer O’Clock – Dog trumps Hog

Your beer update this week comes from a cricket-addled Neil Miller from the Real Beer website:

Time is short in the House That Beer Built today.

Consequently, I have decided to post my latest column, which is reprinted with kind permission from The Wellingtonian newspaper. [Much more of this and I won't be sending those cheques - Ed.]

There are Loaded Hogs scattered up and down the country (and even one in Spain) so the article should be read as a nation-wide warning -- it should also disprove the mistaken theory that I like all beers.

Truthfully, all beers are not created equal

I have heard more stories about indifferent staff, inexplicable delays, corked wine, cold food and off beer at the Loaded Hog than all the other bars in Wellington put together.

At first glance, it is hard to see what there is not to like about the Hog. Like the Hog at Auckland's Viaduct, the Wellington Hog is a big venue which nestles comfortably on a prime waterfront location (See picture right).

I love the feel of the interior, full of deep woods, dark fabrics and exposed stone.

You have choices. You can stand and talk, dine at a table, drink at a leaner, lounge on the couches, relax in a sheltered porch or take your chances on the sunny but sometimes windswept balcony [Note: This clearly refers to the Wellington location only - Ed.].

It really does have everything ... except, that is, when you try to eat or drink there. On my last visit to Welington's Hog I received only average service. Unfortunately, that was easily the best service I have ever had there.

The service is often slow (even when quiet) and frequently shambolic. I worry when a simple request to open a tab for lunch baffles the staff to the extent they have a team meeting to decide if my “wacky” request is possible.

However, I wanted to give the place another chance so I headed off down the waterfront to check out the Loaded Hog range of beers.

I started with the Hog Wheat. This poured light in the glass with virtually no head. The low flavour intensity and the slice of lemon reminded me more of an old Corona than a wheat beer. There was a dodgy flavour lurking in there.

It popped up again in the Hog Gold. A pleasant looking beer, it failed to back it up when tasted. There was a dirty malt sweetness, but now I could clearly taste butterscotch.

Butterscotch means diacetyl, and diacetyl is bad news for most beers. It can either be a brewing fault or a problem with the storage and serving of the beer.

It simply boomed out of the Hog Draught, a mid-brown beverage with a sweet, muddy honey finish.

The “pick” of a very poor bunch was the Hog Dark. It was a dark brown beer, light in the mouth with a gentle roasted coffee and chocolate flavour. The butterscotch was a bit more integrated in the Dark but it hardly sent me rushing to the bar for another.

In fact, and in search of a good beer, it sent me heading out for the short walk round to One Red Dog.

Like a fool, I tried their Hog Wheat. Uuugh! It had the same problems as the Hog's Wheat and I sent it straight back. No one batted an eyelid. I guess it happens a lot.

With some trepidation, I sipped at the replacement Mac’s Reserve. It was simply spectacular. At $15 for pitcher of fresh Mac’s Reserve, One Red Dog is a fine place to drink good beer on a budget.

That near-perfect Reserve saw the Dog trump the Hog in my book.

LINKS: Loaded Hog Brewery

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere

1 comment:

  1. Why I don't care for franchising!

    The original was great- good service, great beer and food.

    Then a great concept is franchised and the new owers try to cruise on the reputation of someone who put all their best into making a ne idea work...


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