Friday, 28 March 2008

Beer O’Clock: Further Frolics from the Beer Archives

On our regular Friday avo Beer O'Clock posts, Neil from Real Beer brings you another beer reminiscence...

Today we dip back into the orange folder of beer reviews clearly marked “reviews to write up” although the ink is beginning to fade with age. Sorting through the papers, it is amazing how many of the beers we reviewed have subsequently disappeared – Katipo in Wellington and Pilot Bay in Auckland have shut their doors to name just two. It is also clear when one of the review panel had returned from overseas with a satchel of exotic lager because there is sudden rush of very rare beers from France or Australia.

We start off cheap and cheerful with Stag Lager (4%). If you pay more than a dollar a can for this stuff someone saw you coming. It is a plain, easy drinking lager. There may be a hint of malt sweetness and the suggestion of hops but nothing genuinely flavourful to slow you down. Perhaps the fact it was reviewed over fish and chips while watching the Hurricanes win may have influenced the results but this was better than expected. The average mark was 4 out of 10.

Next up is an “ale which looks like a stout” – the very dark Harrington’s Big John Special Reserve (6.5%). It throws a delightful burnt toffee nose. The beer has a depth of well rounded sweet flavours before moving onto a light hop finish. A lot happens in a mouthful. Flash notes that he would not want to overdo this beer but a couple would be good. It certainly warms you up after a cold day’s cricket on Wellington’s windswept sports facilities. It averaged out at 6 out 10.

Perhaps unfairly, the last beer is Westmalle Tripel (9.5%). Traditionally served in the most beautiful beer glasses in the world, this straw coloured Trappist ale is a genuine world classic. Lurking under a pillowed head of foam is, in Flash’s words, a beer to be appreciated slowly. This complex beer has notes of honey, toffee, apples, hops and yeast. It is very full in the mouth though not overwhelming alcoholic. Shong says this beer reminds him for some reason of lunches at Leuven which don’t seem to end until it is dark. It scores an average of 8.5.

Cheers, Neil

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