Direct from The Wellingtonian and the Real Beer blog (well, as direct as I could make it considering it was written on the eve of New Year’s Eve when I was, um, a bit busy--as I’m sure you were too, dear readers) beer correspondent Neil Miller adjudicates magisterially on the best local beers of 2009. I can’t say I have any complaints about his judgement. [Photo by Kyle Carter]
The Very Best Beers of 2009
December is the time that columnists reflect on the preceding year and make the traditional spurious “best of” lists. This column is no exception. Here then are my ten best beers of 2009 with last year’s rankings shown in brackets. The list clearly reflects my taste for big hoppy beers but, while they may be hard to find, every beer is well worth trying.
10. Croucher Pale Ale (7) – This is the flagship beer from Paul Croucher’s craft brewery in Rotorua, the Aromatic Capital of New Zealand. It remains a boisterous, flavoursome pale ale with plenty of character and charm.
9. Tuatara Pilsner (NEW) – From the beer-making superstars in Reikorangi, this Pilsner blends the classic Czech style with top-quality local ingredients. The end result is a crisp, dry, approachable lager which can convert people to craft beer.
8. Invercargill Pitch Black (10) – From the country’s southernmost brewery, Pitch Black proves that beers do not need to be strong to have flavour. It showcases a wonderful balance of chocolate and coffee notes before a clean finish.
7. Yeastie Boys His Majesty (NEW) – Newcomers the Yeastie Boys have stormed onto the brewing scene in 2009. His Majesty is a bold and cleverly-made India Pale Ale with bursts of citrus notes before an insidiously refreshing bitterness.
6. Three Boys Oyster Stout (NEW) – A modern recreation of a Victorian recipe, the use of real Bluff Oysters helps create a silky, sweet, decadent stout. It should not work but it really does.
5. Three Boys Golden Ale (NEW) – This seasonal release had never registered on my beer radar before. This year, a few brewing tweaks have produced a zesty, quenching summer delight.
4. Emerson’s Pilsner (2) – Now the only organic beer from New Zealand’s champion brewery, this New World Pilsner is a balance of fruity hops and cleansing bitterness. It is the standard by which others are measured.
2. 8 Wired Hopwired IPA (NEW) – One of the first brews from a new Blenheim brewery, this is my new beer of the year. It has a billowing hop aroma, big passion fruit and citrus flavours, late bitterness and subtle power.
1. Epic Armageddon (3) – Easily one of the most highly hopped beers ever made in New Zealand, this huge beer showcases massive orange and grapefruit notes, a solid malt backbone and lingering bitterness. It should be enjoyed as if it was the last beer on earth.