Dates: 12th August – 18th August, 2013
Bottle shop: Brothers Beer, CityWorks Depot, Auckland
Beer: Hop Zombie, by Epic (1.25L rigger, $23)
There’s something pretty special about staying with your folks in the house you grew up in. I’m not talking about the 28-and-still-living-with-your-parents kind of staying – but the less socially-frowned-upon version: the one where you move away, sow some oats, and then bring said oats back to stay with their Grandparents.
A side-benefit of staying with your folks is the spoiling – first, there’s Mum’s amazing chocolate chip cookies: the ones with the so-wrong-it-has-to-be-right Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup melted into the centre. Then there’s Dad’s offering: a fridge full of generic pale lager (Becks on this occasion), which – and I’m sorry, but this is true – tastes pretty damn awesome when you’re on holiday and you’re drinking it on someone else’s dime.
The lovely full fridge gave me an opportunity to save my Beer Money for a very special occasion: Date Night – that (sadly) rare occasion where my wife and I try to remember what it was that we did before we became Standard-Issue-Boring-Toddler-Supervisors. The number of times we’ve been out together since our kids were born could be pretty easily counted on three hands (or two hands and a foot if you’re alone). So when we get an opportunity – in the form of eager, not-yet-jaded Grandparents who are keen to babysit – we pounce on it.
Our Date Nights are always good fun – a lovely reminder that it’s a Very Good Idea Indeed to marry your best mate – but this Date Night was particularly fun. Now, this ain’t no food blog (mercifully for you), but I must throw in a plug for Al Brown’s Depot, our restaurant-of-choice for the evening. I’ve heard from reputable sources (um, Twitter counts these days, right?) that the immediate and resounding success of Depot is re-defining casual dining as we know it. Based on our experience, I can only say that if this is what all casual dining is going to look like in the future, then Bring. It. On. And more relevantly, the beer list is as well-thought-out as the amazing food – Hallertau Statesman to go with my beef cheeks? Why, don’t mind if I do.
(And before I get any hate-mail from the 4 people who are keeping up with this blog [Hi, Mum!], the dinner/drinks were a gift from our family – so my Beer Money was conserved. Although Statesman – a deliciously moreish pale ale – would have been a pretty solid investment regardless).
But to bring to the fore a well-buried-lead, it was where we wandered off to after Depot that’s the worthy subject of this blog entry.
Brothers Beer is one of the Über-cool ‘sheds’ which comprise City Works Depot, and is neighboured by equally-trend-setting spots like Food Truck Garage and the aforementioned Al Brown’s bagel company, Best Ugly Bagels.
For a Wellingtonian, walking into Brothers is like walking into a home-away-from-home; 15+ taps of amazing and hard-to-find craft beer: check. Working 4800L brewery visible (/reach-out-and-touch-able): check. Bar staff who are very clearly passionate beer geeks: check. Head-spinning array of single bottles, ranging from The Usual Suspects to The Awesomely Obscure: double-check on that one – Brothers has a single-bottle selection that would make Thorndon New World blush. I also luuuurve the ~330ml ‘pint’ glasses at Brothers – because they’re giving you less beer, they can charge you about the same (if not less) money as what you’d pay for a pint of meh at a standard pub. To a guy who’s always working to a tight beer budget, that kind of thing is a real attraction. Yes, I’m aware that other places have smaller glass options – but unless I’m mistaken, having ~330ml as the standard glass size is a neat point-of-difference.
But one of Brothers biggest points-of-difference is the option to takeaway a rigger of your favourite tipple – a practise reasonably-commonplace at most beer bars in Welly (and probably a few in Orcs too). With a big family shin-dig happening the night-after-Date-Night, it was a perfect opportunity to stock-up on some crafty deliciousness. And if I’m being (too) honest, I was kind of hoping to score some conversions (Moses-style, not Dan Carter-style) – to hopefully introduce some friends/family to actually flavourful beer. With that in mind, I did what any responsible beer geek would do:
I spent all my money on a rigger of Epic Hop Zombie.
Zombie should really be the exemplar for How You Should Make a Hoppy Double-IPA. It’s eerily pale when poured, leaving you completely unaware of the insanely-citrusy flavour which is about to smack you in the mouth – and the 8.5% booze which is about to smack you in the head. The trick with Zombie – and what separates it from most of the Double-IPA pack – is that it leaves your mouth with a lingering Coat of Awesomeness, not a lingering taste of alcohol. I genuinely thought that Zombie might have scared-off the non-beer-geeks that I shared it with – that perhaps the intense hoppy aromatics and grapefruit-in-the-eye citrusy-ness would have ripped their palates to shreds and sent them searching for the safety of a Green Bottle. But I really needn’t have worried: ‘cos they totally dug it big time.
Or at least they said they did. To be honest, I stopped paying attention after the first glass.
If you’re in Auckland, Go To Brothers Beer. Preferably right now. Twenty-three bucks for 1.25L of one of the best-damn-Double-IPAs-around, fresh off the tap, is very good value for money – especially when you consider that you’re taking it away from a pub.