Your Beer O'Clock post this week is written by Stu. Give it up for Real Beer and the Society for Beer Advocates (SOBA).
When Lion Nathan's Mac's range was rebranded just before Christmas last year, there were a fair few beer redundancies from the old range. The much lauded 'Reserve' and 'Copperhop' got the chop, as did the highly-acclaimed 'Wicked Blonde' pilsner, the effeminate 'Blonde' and a couple of other lesser known drops. Besides the old staples of Gold and Black, only one beer actually survived the cut. That beer was Sassy Red.
This was no surprise. The beer, one of the many brainchildren of Mac's head brewer Colin Paige, has beaten off formidable local and international competition to win Best In Class trophies at the last four BrewNZ competitions. In September's BrewNZ awards it'll be gunning for five in a row, an amazing feat should Mac's manage to pull it off.
Sassy Red pours an inviting reddish bronze, with a tight off-white head. A good deal of malt nuttiness and its famous fruity 'hopsack' aroma abound on the nose. In the mouth it's medium-dry, slightly toasty, and has a huge hop burst of tropical fruit and well ripened strawberry. The bitterness is firm, tending to an iron-like intensity. Delicious. It's certainly a beer that benefits from venting - I find it a little too carbonated straight from the bottle, but by the time I'm halfway through the glass it's quite superb.
Colin Paige is rightly proud of his award winning amber ale. Pound for pound, or more appropriately dollar for dollar, it's got to be one of New Zealand's best beers. Proof that the big companies can brew great beer when they trust a good brewer. Get your head in a hopsack tonight.
AS AN ASIDE, Sassy Red's brash name has been an inspiration as much as its recipe. Murray's Brewing Co, a rising Australian craft brewery with a kiwi head brewer, has a come out with a Sassy Blonde. While Harrington's, a prolific little brewery in Christchurch, has come out with a particularly cheeky name for their hoppy amber ale: Classy Red. Check these beers out if you ever get the chance. I'm hearing good whispers from the right people about both beers.
BTW, limited tickets are still available for the BrewNZ Awards Party (Wed 12 Sep at Wellington's Shed 22. Join brewers, judges, sponsors, media, beer glitterati (that's me) and Neil Miller (our beery excellent MC) as the 2007 award winning beers are announced ($75 cocktail food and drinks inclusive). See the below link for more information.
Slainte mhath, Stu