Friday, 14 September 2007

Beer O'Clock: A week of it!

In this week's Beer O'Clock our irregular correspondent Stu from SOBA sums up this year's BrewNZ: one week, one liver, 184 beers...

BREWNZ 2007 HAS JUST WOUND UP with the realisation that the New Zealand craft beer scene has just come of age.

The last few years have been dominated by Lion Nathan, Emerson's and Steam Brewing (of Cock & Bull, Limburg and Epic fame). This year the spread of medals and 'Best in Class' trophies was spread as far and wide as were my eager eyes on Day One, and by my at liver by week's end.
  • Sunshine Brewery - best known for Gisborne Gold - had their Black Magic judged best 'Dark or Amber Lager'.
  • Hawkes Bay's K.E.A. brewing, one of New Zealand's youngest breweries, picked up trophy as best 'Wheat and other grain beer' for their outstandingly fresh German-style Admiral's Weisse Bier.
  • The Christchurch-brewed Three Boy's Oyster Stout took out 'Stouts and Porters.'
  • And Wellington's only microbrewery - Tuatara - was awarded best 'UK or European-style ale' for their well-known Tuatara IPA.
  • Meanwhile Blenheim's Renaissance scored another big coup with their Stonecutter Strong Scotch Ale being judged best in the 'Strong ales and lagers' class.
These little guys are now hitting the benchmarks set by our very best breweries. All in all, it's a great sign for NZ beer fans. The quality, consistency and stylistic range of your local brewery just gets better and better.

In amongst it all, the usual suspects still managed to shine.
  • Emerson's limited-edition JP won best in class for 'French & Belgian-styles.'
  • Steam's Cock & Bull Monk's Habit was the best 'New world / American-style ale.'
  • Limburg's Czechmate won in the 'International-style golden lager' class.
  • And the ever consistent Mac's Gold beat off the bulk standard kiwi brown's and golds to become the best 'Classic hybrid New Zealand style beer.'
Amongst all this excitement, however, the biggest individual highlight for me had to be Invercargill Brewery receiving the the trophy in a very hotly contested 'Fruit, Spiced, Herbed beer' class for the delightfully named Smokin' Bishop. A 6.5% strong, malty German-style lager described by one friend as "a beautiful beer full of smoky bacon bits." We're not just making great interpretations of well known styles, we're starting to become a little more adventurous too! Limited stock of this seasonal beer can still be found at Regional Wines and Spirits and The Malthouse. Steve Nally, the Invercargill Brewery owner and brewer, has flown himself to Wellington for each of the last three years where he's volunteered as a BrewNZ steward. Once again his beers are all the better for the experience he's been gaining here (he also received gold for his flagship Pitch Black Stout). If you're ever in Invercargill pop into the brewery, buy a few beers and give the man a great big hug.

Meanwhile... A final call to all SOBA members to get yourself down to Bar Edward at 11am tomorrow 9Saturday) and have your say at our 2007 AGM. There will be a couple of special surprises for the members attending (hint: one of them is a 26% special surprise!). If you're not already a member, then come along and join up.

Slainte mhath, Stu


  1. Tonight I'm drinking Emerson's latest APA. I think it's the best it's been in years, with a superb malt sweetness, white pepper and fruit salad hop notes and a nice balanced bitterness.

  2. These beers remain well hidden. Who's selling that stuff in South Auckland?

  3. Funny that you mention that. Just this morning I was lamenting how few of these beers are on tap in Wellington (at least we can get almost all of them in bottle, I suppose).

    Monk's Habit is availale at all of the Cock and Bull pubs. Limburg Czechmate should be at some of the better supermarkets.

    Everything else will have to come via mail order from Regional Wines and Spirits ( unless someone knows something I don't.

    Emerson's JP and Invercargill Smokin' Bishop are limited releases and may not be around for much longer.

    Perhaps it's time to start pressuring your local bottle stores, supermarkets, pubs, cafes and restaurants.



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