Friday, 1 December 2006

Beer O'Clock: News from the Limburg front

Real beer talk this week from Real Beer's Stu.

Rumours of Limburg’s demise have been partially exaggerated (and not, this time, by Nicky Hager). Media reports and beer forums have had New Zealand craft-beer lovers in a spin; with the news that Chris O’Leary’s award-winning Hastings brewery was sold.

Although the Limburg Brewery has indeed been sold, the Limburg range of beer – Hopsmacker, Czechmate, Witbier, Porter and IPA – is marketed under a different company and is still being contract brewed by Steam Brewing in Auckland. They will still be available at a supermarket near you. This has both positive and negative aspects…

The positives of the move are numerous and, economically, surely outweigh the negatives: the beer is still being brewed; it is being brewed by NZ’s most award-winning brewer (Luke Nicholas); in a more cost effective brewery; and, Auckland will almost certainly be a better location from which to distribute the beer (meaning it is more likely to arrive fresh to our lips).

The negative: we are about to lose one of the few breweries in New Zealand with a very distinct “house” character. Like Cooper’s in Australia, though with a much shorter history, Limburg is one of the few breweries to really show off its yeast on the palate (the beer equivalent of wearing your heart on your sleeve). The orange and spice yeast notes, that I enjoy in each of the Hastings-brewed beers - even when they are slightly out of character, absolutely reek of the passion that has made Limburg so recognisable. That yeast character and, of course, “Hopsmacker” (one of the most inspired names in marketing history, surely) were synonymous with Limburg.

One beer that will really miss the unique character is the Limburg Porter. Released earlier this year, the porter shows off the usual biscuit and toast characters of New Zealand dark ales but with beautiful yeast roundness of rich fruit and spice that is so rare in our usually clean tasting Kiwi craft ales. It also comes in a lovely, man-sized, 640ml bottle that will quite likely be dropped with the new brewing contract. Get it now, before the last of the Hastings-brewed bottles disappear, and match it with crusty bread and sweet nutty cheese (or a rich and dark Indian curry).

Tonight I raise my glass of Limburg Porter filled glass to Chris O’Leary – champion of the New Zealand craft beer industry.

Cheers Chris, slainte mhath, best wishes from all serious beer fans.

Other beery good news:
SOBA -- the Society of Beer Advocates -- New Zealand's leading beer consumer group, is now officially incorporated and promoting good beer near you. See the website for news and details of supporting sponsors (Limburg are amongst them). Perhaps it’s time for you to SOBA up and join the revolution, where taste triumphs over brand.

Cheers, Stu

LINKS: Cooper’s house character Limburg SOBA sponsors RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere


  1. Now this wee drop Stu certainly had a pre-market.

    Hope you have some to sample this arvo...

    Maybe a regional wines delivery - perhaps we should invite Nicky Hager?

  2. Funny, as I read this column, I just happened to be drinking the Limburg Porter. Psychic much, Stu? :)

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