Refreshed from the recent BrewNZ, a SOBA Stu brings us this week's (slightly early) Beer O'Clock...
BREWNZ GOT ME THINKING about the next big thing. It always does. So over my next few 'Beer O'Clock' pieces I'm going to highlight a few beers that are still flying under the radar. Not one of them fits the current trend of "world-beating, hoppy, fresh, delicious ales" that Capital Times beer writer Aaron Watson rightly states New Zealanders do so well. These are all excellent beers, however, and, importantly, they are all relatively widely available across this great little country.
Weary from the full flavours from the flurry of fashionable hoppy ales at the beer awards, this week I rest my tastebuds with a Kölsch. A beer described, unspectacularly, by the Beer Judging Certification Program as "a clean, crisp, delicately balanced beer usually with very subtle fruit flavours and aromas."
Out of Aotearoa Breweries in the 'romantic' forestry hamlet of Kawerau, Mata Artesian has a distinctive modern flash of branding that could well turn-off the cynical customer. This is a beer, like Taakawa's "Indigenous Ale" that looks like it's packaged for tourists. Don't be put off.
Artesian pours a lucent yellow gold with an airy, virginal white head. It throws off a delicate mix of 'green' fruity esters with a slightly sulphurous mineral note. In the mouth it continues the complex, gentle approach with apple, pear, honey and wine gums featuring the medium sweet, slightly earthy, malt-balanced flavour. A very mild bitterness and medium carbonation cleans out the palate nicely, making it ideal as either an aperitif or a lawnmower beer.
Technically Mata Artesian shouldn't be called a Kölsch, given that the style is an appellation protected by the Kölsch Konvention (which restricts it to the 20 or so breweries in and around Köln, Germenay). Methode Kölschois anyone? Whatever you call it, it's a top drop from an emerging little brewery.
A couple of bronze medals in 2006 beer awards have been followed up with silvers in the same competitions in 2007. Expect this beer to come onto the mainstream radar within the next year or two. You can say you heard it first at Not PC - from some guy riding a pantomime donkey.
Finally, news for all you home-brewers: SOBA's National Homebrew Championship is on! One lucky (and skilled) brewer will have their recipe brewed commercially at Hallertau Brewbar, just north of Auckland. See the SOBA website for further details, and be in to win!
Slainte mhath, Stu