Saturday, 20 March 2010

The Seventh Blackhurst Beer Festival (Part Two)

Beer Number Six - Arrow Brewing Co, Tobin's Ale

The Arrow Brewing Company (launched in December 2008 by five ‘craft beer enthusiasts) was as good a reason to return to Arrowtown as any. The brewery is approximately 1.3km from door to door which is particularly handy. This is a traditional English style ale with strong hop characters. I like it and have drunk a lot of it already to make my point.

Big taste; malty; oven roasted
Time and micro-organisms were involved
Single malt
Strong hop-flavoured bitter
Bitter with lots of anti-bacterial hops – eeuuw
Aha, proper beer – pleasing maltiness; very drinkable
Amber nectar
A well-rounded little number with a beautiful amber glow
Lightly flavoured; will keep well
Bile vile; extremely bitter with malt undertones

I like this beer a lot so was personally disappointed that it only came 7th with 34 points. Oh well, I can't force people to like the beer that I do...

Beer number seven - Green Man Best Bitter (4.5%)

The Green Man Brewery in Dunedin is named after the Green Man, oddly enough; an old folk-fertility symbol, said to represent the essence of nature itself. Hedonistic and ritualistic, the pagan figure dies each year in November and is reborn on 1st May. The brewery website claims, ‘He is found in the spirit of the trees, and his presence can be felt around you, in the bush… He is in orgies on the hillside, riots in the street, the celebrations of plenty, and the privations of crop failure. He is in inebriation, orgasm, trance and possession. His eyes typically do not focus, and his image is part comforting and part worrying, like the force he represents.’ Sounds like a drunken old hippy to me – hurrah!

Brewed to strictly organic standards (with no additives, sugar or isinglass – a fish product often used to clear beer), the Best Bitter is even suitable for vegans! It is crafted after an authentic English style of ale with deep copper colour, intense hop character and lingering bitterness. The brewers boast that “Green Man Best Bitter is the taste of Olde England.” Start waving those hankies and shaking those bells!

Celtic – aaaaargh!
Would go nice with beer
Dark mutterings
You Northern monkey!
Harrington’s malty something?
Malty moderate texture
Something darkish, a bit bitter and a tad malty; Speight’s Distinction?
Sweet and malty with hops
Classic beer; fresh on the front palate with a brave aftertaste

A reasonable score for this beer on the night - 43 points put it in fourth place.

Beer number eight - Tuatara India Pale Ale (5%)

The mission statement of this brewery is to “reclaim beer values”. In all their beer they insist on using traditional methods and authentic malts. They believe that craft beer is endangered and, as such, the tuatara is a fitting motif: “We relate to the little guy; he’s gone along doing things in his own deliberate patient way – and has so far outlasted all his bigger relations by quite a few million years.” Tuatara brewery has a long way to go, with only eight years of brewing, but is already building up an impressive reputation.

In 2008 Tuatara won Best Brewery at the Brew NZ Awards. They also won best IPA. The brewery is located just north of Wellington and their beers are always on tap at The Malthouse (which was our local when we lived there – can you detect a theme?). When I last saw the head brewer he had just singed off his eyebrows by experimenting with too many hops for his kiln. They must be the only brewery in the modern world not to have a website. They do their marketing by word of mouth. I like them.

I’m at a loss for w...
Like my last wife; works well, slightly rubbery, or is that my lips?
Hoppy and a little bitter
Hopsy strong aftertaste
Bitter with lots of anti-bacterial hops – am I repeating myself?
This is the nicest one so far
A lot hoppier on the nose, handier in the hand and kind to the mind
Guess – pure guess; Celtic – wrong?

This was our silver medal beer, coming 2nd with 48 points.

The sky continued to glow as the beer continued to flow.

Beer number nine - Dux Brewing Company Nor'wester (6.5%)

I’ve forgotten many a Christchurch afternoon on this stuff. It’s a traditional strong ale that is aptly named after the strong warm winds that turns all Cantabrians just a little more mad than they already were.

It’s strong with lashings of malt, hops and fruitiness. Glengarry (the magazine of the wine and beer retailer) describes it as ‘the Michelin Man of ales’ as in ‘balanced, fully flavoured and artfully constructed.’ Not as in made of tyres and tasting of rubber, then.

Speight’s Porter?
They are getting better
You malty wee thing
Sweet and malty
Full flavour and smooth aftertaste
This one smells nice – sweet and malty
If it were a dog it would be a spaniel
Malty stuff; almost barley wine-ish
A beautiful bitter with a well-rounded flavour and spicy aftertaste

With 56 points, this beer was a clear winner and topped our voting table. I have incidentally noticed that this happens a lot with this kind of beer - is it that it is stronger, slightly sweet, or just served near the end of the night?

Beer number ten - Renaissance Craftsman Chocolate Oatmeal Stout (4.9%)

Renaissance Brewery Co sits in the heart of Marlborough’s wine growing region (Blenheim) so it must make damn fine stuff if it’s going to compete, and it does. It’s got that fancy label thing going on as well.

Made with real cocoa beans and organic rolled oats (plus malts and other stuff that goes into beer) this stout is one way to get your oats (and your chocolate). It was the brewery’s decadent spring release and Regional Wines and Spirits (my spiritual home) voted it among their top six beers of 2009. Beer writer Kieran Haslett-Moore writes, “Craftsman is the ultimate beer for any chocolate lover packed full of spicy dark chocolate and espresso flavours and aromas with a nutty rich moderately bitter finish. Try it with red meats or a dark berry based desert.” May I recommend pie and peas anyone?

Like being pistol whipped by a belligerent troll but worse (incidentally, the person who described it thus rated it as their second favourite beer of the night - yes, I've got some odd friends...)
Speight’s Old Dark
Old Dark, Harrington’s or Monteith’s, and slightly bitter
Long dark number
Malt and full on
Chocolate and coffee
Eeeeeeeeuuuuw! Marmite
Molasses overtones with a chocolaty finish
Match with pudding

The chocolate beer was quite a popular wee number and was voted third overall with 46 points.

So there we have it; a fine night was had by all, much beer was consumed and much nonsense was talked, which is afterall, the true purpose of such functions. The Blackhurst Beer Festival has successfully completed it's seventh year, and we are looking forward to the next one already!

1 comment:

Jo B said...

As a veteran of the Blackhurst Beer Festivals ( although sadly only the the first two or three) I can safely say that Kate and Spaz's blind tasting extravaganzas have made me realise that I don't actually like beer.

Damned good fun though and the comments as always are comedy gold!

I shall be at the next one, oh yes!