Dates: 19th July – 25th July, 2013
Bottle shop(s): Countdown Johnsonville, Moore Wilsons and New World Newtown, Wellington
- Sparkling Ale, by Coopers (Australia), single 750ml, $4.99)
- ‘Patriot’ American Black Ale, by Crouchers (Rotorua, NZ), single 500ml, $7.99)
- Double Hopped IPA, by Monteiths (well, DB…well, Asia Pacific Breweries) (single 500ml, $4.99)
- ‘Red Baron’ Amber Ale, by Boundary Road (well, ‘Independent’…well, Asahi) (single 500ml, $4.99)
In the immortal words of the *cough* musical genius Michael Bolton:
“Said I wouldn’t blog about disparate beers | But I lied”.
Turns out that it’s just too much fun to fill my week with super different beers – hence the weird collection of disparate things for this week. I promise to try harder to get some themes going…
Let’s start with an easy one: Sparkling Ale by Coopers. It’s delicious. It’s interesting without being overpowering. It’s $4.99, and there’s 750mls of it – making it exceptional value for money. And most importantly, it’s the beer that calmed my nerves after the 6.5 magnitude earthquake. I was half-way through it when we had our little family gathering under the door frame - I don’t remember what the second half tasted like, but it seemed to evaporate pretty fast so it must have been good. Coopers really can’t put a foot wrong in the value-for-money department I reckon, and their Cooper’s Kits have started the home-brewing careers of a number of top brewers the world over - just another way they’re filling the world with value-for-beer-money.
I got the Patriot American Black Ale (a.k.a. black IPA?) from the quintessentially Wellington institution Moore Wilsons, based primarily on a rave review from another quintessentially Wellington institution: beer blogger and Garage Projector Phil Cook. Unfortunately I made a beer boo-boo: I popped the lid and started drinking when the beer was straight out of a cold fridge, which meant that I was initially underwhelmed with the flavour (since it was too cold to taste much at all). As the beer warmed up, the beer became amazingly 3-D and all of the plaudits began to make absolute sense. Once this silly blog is all over, I’ll have to grab another bottle and treat it with the respect it deserves.
I’d heard good (and bad) things about the new Monteith’s brewer’s series, so being a pale ale fan I thought I’d give the Double Hopped double IPA a crack. Double IPAs – a.k.a. Imperial IPAs – are generally pretty big and boozy. In my very rudimentary experience, the trick to a truly memorable double IPA is that the booziness is very well hidden within a multitude of complex flavours – complexity made possible by masses of malt, which gives the beer its booziness but also its backbone. You can hang a lot on a big backbone – which is why Epic Hop Zombie is so well balanced despite its zompocalyptic levels of fruity hops. My lasting memory of the Monteith’s Double IPA was that they hadn’t managed to nail that balance; you definitely taste every percentage point of alcohol as it lingers in your mouth, which isn’t really my cup of tea. I shall have to give the others in the series a go to see if I can find a yum one, since at $4.99 a bottle the price is right if you can find one to your liking.
On a whole, the standard Boundary Road beers are, well, meh. In my opinion the marketing seems to write a cheque that the beer can’t cash. The Bouncing Czech pilsner is waaaaaaay too bitter, like they inverted their hops schedule and put them all in at the beginning of the boil instead of the end (…*high-fives self*… Boom! Beer geek slam!!). The Chosen One lager succeeded on the marketing front, but honestly…did they need 1,000 taste-testers to help them create a pretty generic pale lager?
In light of these disappointments, the Red Baron Amber Ale – part of Boundary Road’s brewer’s series – is a super pleasant surprise. It has a strong malt backbone, and a yum hoppy flavour and aroma without being in-your-face. It’s a very drinkable beer, and at $4.99 (on special, which it seems to be regularly) it represents solid value for money.
Having said that – and putting Red Baron to one side – I think that Boundary Road (and Monteith’s for that matter) need to be pretty careful with their price-pointing for their 500ml brewer’s series. Their standard retail price (at least at New World Newtown) is $5.99, making it the exact same price as Epic Pale Ale (which will definitely be appearing in a future blog, I’m saving it for an Epic-themed week…). In a game of eenie-meenie-miney-mo between a Boundary Road / Monteith’s beer and the tried-and-true (and outstanding) Epic Pale Ale, Epic will win every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Or three times if my budget allows.