Beer O'Clock comes to you this week from Stu of Real Beer and SOBA, the Society of Beer Advocates.
Paul Croucher is living many a homebrewer's dream. After a bit of success in homebrew competitions, he took the plunge and started a commercial brewery in Rotorua. In the first couple of years, since opening, he's managed to gather a committed group of stockists and picked up enthusiastic reviews from beer geeks and a few medals in international competitions (three very difficult things for the little guys to achieve).
Croucher Brewing Company have three regular beers on the go (a hoppy new world pale ale, a German-style wheat beer and Bohemian-style Pilsner). I've tried their pale ale a few times over the last year, and have been impressed with it's consistency. Pouring a burnished rose-gold, with a dirty white head, there's some punchy toffee-like malt on the nose, peaking through the big peach and passionfruit hop character. A little sea breeze, probably from dry-hopping, rounds out a quite obstreperous aroma. In the mouth it follows the same path, with a weighty malt character carrying a very big, fruity, hop flavour and bitterness that lingers deliciously - inviting another sip. There's a slight yeasty sharpness through the middle, that the beer would be better without, but it didn't hinder the beer winning bronze at BrewNZ 2006.
Well worth a sample, and I'm looking forward to trying the rest of the range.
For Paul Croucher, and his team, there are plenty of insprations from other former homebrewer's who've successfully made the switch: Chris O'Leary, who's Limburg beers you have probably have seen around. Steve Nally, of Invercargill, who's becoming one of New Zealand's most consistent and awarded brewers. Carl Vasta, of Tuatara, who not only brews the beer - he builds breweries! And, of course, that bloke down south who just happens to be one of New Zealand's more prominent brewers - Richard Emerson. Best wishes Paul!
Check out the Croucher website for news and more information on stockists.
Slainte mhath, Stu