Friday, 2 March 2007

Beer O'Clock: Three Boys Golden Ale

Your Friday beer advice comes this week from Stu at RealBeer.

Christchurch's Three Boys Brewery has the distinction of being the lowest of my beery lowlights in 2006, but not for the reason you might think.

The beer has always been quite splendid, but it was a visit to the brewery that turned particularly pear-shaped. The garden city was the destination for an annual "brewery-by-bicycle" trip that a group of friends and I make. By an unfortunate twist of fate the brewer, Dr Ralph Bungard, was away in Wellington (where I'm from, ironically) conducting a series of tutored tastings on his range of beers. His wife - the woman behind the three boys - was happy to show us around but, in a second unfortunate twist, one of the other two boys (Ralph's sons) was at home sick on the day we were pedalling.

It left me thirsty.

If you haven't heard of Three Boys Brewery you are probably not alone. One of New Zealand's newest breweries, and one of the many in Christchurch, it has only just begun to make a name for itself outside of beer's 'inner circle.' Ralph Bungard, the brewer and owner (and one of the three 'boys'), has actually only been running the brewery part-time while he worked as a biologist at Canterbury University. During that time he picked up a fistful of medals for his fine range of beers, enabling him to launch the brand into the odd supermarket or bottle-store.

He's now working full-time (plus some) in the brewery, so you can be sure to hear more in the very near future.

The very good Three Boys' standards are a pilsner, a porter, a Belgian wheat and an India Pale Ale (reviewed here at Not PC). Earlier this year an Oyster Stout, with real Bluff oysters in the recipe, was released to coincide with the oyster season.

The latest seasonal offering, a summery Golden Ale, gives us all the qualities of a great summer beer without going outside the spectrum of traditional beer ingredients - water, malt, hops and yeast (there's no oysters or secret blend of herbs, honey and spices in this beer, I can promise you). The ale is gently dominated by just a single hop: Nelson Sauvin.

This hop variety is so named to convey it's aromatic similarities to the world famous Marlborough wine. While it can be very reminiscent of tropical fruit (lychee, feijoa, guava, passionfruit have all been evoked at times) it also has that famous Sauvignon Blanc musky note commonly described as 'cat pee.' When talking hops or Sauvignon, 'cat pee' is not at all a bad thing. Think of it more as "an off-note that adds complexity to a piece of music" - a description that I particularly like for a hop that I love.

The Golden Ale pours a very pale straw gold, almost watery, with a fluffy white head. It has classic Sauvin notes, as described above, tending towards the fruitier side than the cat pee. In the mouth it displays a continuation of those subtle fruity aromatics: crisply fermented pale malts deliver an off-dry malt flavour with subtle hop perfume of fruit, herb and musk (I'm even reminded a little of hop's infamous, and illegal, resinous 'cousin'). A subtle bitterness lingers in the somewhat oily finish. Great for a variety of occasions: after mowing the lawns, with shrimp cocktails, or at the barbeque.

All in all the Golden Ale is a deliciously fresh summer ale. Anyone who appreciates quality, and especially those who enjoy Mac's new Hop Rocker, will probably love this simpler, and superior ale.

LINKS: Cat pee
Three Boys Brewery
More on the IPA - Not PC

RELATED POSTS ON: Beer & Elsewhere

1 comment:

  1. Golden Ale was sold out at my local New World, so I picked the IPA. It wasn't quite up to it's usual high stndards.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.