Friday 16 May 2008

Beer O’Clock: Auckland Beer

This week in Beer O'Clock, Neil from RealBeer gives Auckland beer-lovers the benefit of his Wellington wisdom:

In these modern times, many people think nothing of driving for hours and paying a premium to secure local, organic produce. We seem fascinated with the welfare of our chickens, the provenance of our mushrooms and the age of our venison. That’s understandable – it is all about sustainability and flavour.

Where it gets interesting is when these same people are selecting a beer to go with their gourmet conquests. All too often, their “buy local” philosophy is abandoned in favour of the bland certainty of a global mega-brand. It is a shame – there is wisdom in the old saying that beer is best drunk in the shadow of the brewery.

pgm-show_image.phpDuring a recent visit to Auckland I had the chance to try two new local beers and was pleasantly impressed.

Brown Teal Ale (5%) is a rich brown beer with a tight stream of bubbles in the glass. It has a smooth caramel body and a lingering, almost oily, bitterness from the use of organic hops. This beer was darker and more flavoursome than I had expected. Brown Teal Ale has a lovely balance and is very refreshing. It’s not easy to find at this stage but you can contact them through their still rather spartan website.

Before flying back to Wellington, I was enjoying a couple of pints at Galbraith’s with the owner of this august blog. Galbraith’s (left) is a near perfect brewpub. In fact, the only thing I can find to criticise is the constant presence of Chris Trotter when I’m there. One of the scariest sights I’ve ever seen was Comrade Trotter (right) bursting through Galbraith's front door wearing a National Party conference badge. Thankfully, he hadn’t joined the party [hard to notice - Ed.] but he had been drinking their free booze in preparation for another year of relentlessly attacking them in his columns.

Speaking of columns, the new seasonal at Galbraith’s is called Full Nelson, a brown ale. It is not a style I’m usually too keen on. I’ve honestly never really seen the appeal of Newcastle Brown – affectionately known as Newkie or “the dog”. “Taking the dog for a walk” is apparently code for “going to the pub for ten pints with my mates.” However, I always thought Newcastle Brown got “the dog” nickname because it smelt like a wet Bassett Hound.

Full_Nelson The Full Nelson is thankfully a different beast. It is a smooth, creamy, cask-conditioned ale. It pours a rich brown with a small, well-formed head. It has plenty of caramel and malt before a firm hop finish. Overall, it’s very tasty yet eminently sessionable.

Besides, how was I ever going to resist a beer named after a wrestling hold?

As they say, thing globally, drink locally.

Cheers, Neil


Stu as "Stu" said...

Two browns in one day... bloody hell Neil, you'll get the shakes without a decent hop fix.

I wonder how many people got the "columns" jibe. Welcome back. Love your work - especially when it's over towards the dark side.

I see Nelsonians (Nelsonites? Nellies?) will no longer be able to drink local Mac's - perhaps they'll start trying one of the 7 other local breweries now.

Neil said...

Thanks Stu. I was worried the columns reference would be too subtle for some...

Look forward to your column next week (sorry for stealing your spot!)

Speaking of Hops, I'm off to the Epic Beer Exhibit today (also knownas the Wellington Food Show)...

Stu as "Stu" said...

Ah, that's right, Mr Epic was in town - that's why my visit to Leuven was one of the first ever visits I've had there where you haven't walked in the door.

Hmmmmm... mussels and Orval, what more could you ask for on a grey day? Maybe a 10.5% warming Goulden Draak to see me on my way.