Friday, 29 August 2008

Beer O’Clock: The Shakespeare

This week, a sobering experience at the Shakespeare for our RealBeer beer writer Neil Miller  ...

Billed as New Zealand’s first modern brewpub, The Shakespeare Tavern and Brewery on the corner of Wyndam and Albert Streets in central Auckland has a long and illustrious history.  Their fame has been always based on the quality of their beers.  All About Beer magazine even rated it as the 98th best place in the entire world to drink beer!

I’d visited a few times and always enjoyed their beers.  Sadly, a recent visit to “the Shake” confirmed reports that beer quality has been in a major slump for some quite time.

In order to get an overview of the beers, I ordered the tasting tray. The last time I was there I polished off the tray and had lengthy internal debates about which brews were my favourites. No such luck this time.  Here are my tasting notes from the latest visit:

Barraclough Lager – Billed as a true lager stored for two months, this is a bright gold, good-looking beer. Low aroma, sweetish body, light bitterness.

Bohemian Lager – Described as “incomparable”, it is sweetish, light aroma again, fuller, hint of spice but the late bitterness just saves it.

Falstaff Real Ale – Surprisingly clear and fizzy for a real ale. Caramel, not overtly hopped. I would struggle to distinguish this from Tui to be honest.

Regan’s Raspberry Weiss – Immediate hit of raspberry but is more like raspberry cordial. Soft middle then some sourness which is actually the best bit of the beer.

Willpower Stout – Chocolate, coffee, mellow, surprisingly thick for the modest strength. Distinctly better than I recall.

Pistol’s Old Soldier Ale – Listed as more dangerous than a minefield, it is actually very underwhelming. Soft coffee nose. This hides the high alcohol well but also hides the flavour well too.

King Lear Old Ale – Tangy – which is a little surprising and not terribly welcome. Very disappointing because this was great last time.

Puck’s Pixilation – I should have picked the signs were not good when the barman told me this was a honey beer. The sweetness is now cavity-causing. All the subtlety is gone. It has fallen from Belgian to Bus Stop. What have they done to you my lovely, graceful fairy? The plight of Puck is a true Shakespearian tragedy.

I left most of my tray sitting on the table.

Cheers, Neil


Greig McGill said...

Sad to say I agree 100% Neil. Oh, wait, 90%. The Pucks was great last time I was there. Very weetbixy. Odd I know, but nice. I even took some down to Wellywood, but you were off hunting hops or something. ;)

Anonymous said...

Never been too sure why people rate the Shakespeare. The beer there is served so cold that there is no chance of really assessing the flavour unless you're prepared to wait for ages for it to warm up.

Spoken by an expatriate pom who still can't understand people's preoccupation with ultra-cold beer......

Cactus Kate said...

That's a pinko watering hole for Herald hacks.

Shame on you.

Martin said...

The Shakespeare is just up the road from my office (no I'm not a Herald hack!) but I'm close to banning myself from going in there because every time I do (and it's rare these days) I come out raving about how much of a wasted opportunity it is, and how I could do so much with that building and location. A sad waste.

Anonymous said...

Shakespeare is a good place for scoring chicks. I have done so a number of times in the past. Two of those occasions were TVNZ chicks.

Anonymous said...

Jo Seager and Kay Gregory? wow what a combo.....

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling said...

Anonymous Win!