Week 17: Cracking the Code

Dates: 21st October – 27th October, 2013

Bottle shop: Regional Wines and Spirits, Wellington


  1. ‘Hud a Wa’ Strong Amber Ale, by Yeastie Boys (1 x 330ml bottle, $4.99)
  2. ‘Gunnamatta’ Tea Leaf IPA, by Yeastie Boys (1 x 330ml bottle, $5.15)
  3. Pilsner, by Emerson’s (1.25L rigger, $9.70)

Total: $19.85

Last week, I outlaid my new weekly beer-buying strategy: a moderate amount of something reliably tasty, plus a bottle or two of something interesting and/or experimental. It may have taken me the better part of four months, but I think that by using this strategy I’ve solved the beer quality vs. quantity riddle which drove me to start this blog in the first place.

So, Cracked the Code on this project with six weeks to spare, then.

I love it when a plan comes together.

This week the whole whānau came with me to make my selections – we were Out and About in the vicinity of the Basin Reserve, and so (naturally) we popped into that most venerable of Wellington institutions, Regional Wines and Spirits. While ‘Regionals’ is best-known for their much-admired (and ahead-of-the-curve) fill-your-own selection – Twenty Taps of Deliciousness at last count – they also boast a heady array of single bottles. A quick scan revealed that they’re around a Buck cheaper per single bottle than most of the supermarkets I frequent – and that actually does make a difference, especially when you’re trying to squeeze as much Interesting Stuff into your week as you can while still operating on a shoestring budget.


So let’s start with the single bottles. If you’re in a hurry, here’s a (predictable) review of the two Yeastie Boys beers that I opted for this week:

Blah blah Yeastie Boys blah blah Hud a Wa blah blah outstanding blah blah Gunnamatta blah blah holy shit this is so good blah blah witty comment about oranges blah blah mmmmmmmmm blah blah blah…

Or, in other words (well, actual words):

Hud a wa is an Amber Ale which fills me with great Hope, since elements of Hud a Wa – well, perhaps traces rather than full-blown elements – are quite reminiscent of my own home-brewed hoppy Amber Ale. (Y’know, without the Butterscotch and Band-Aid faults that more-than-occasionally let my brew down.) On top of artificially pumping-up my ego by leaving me with the illusion that Maybe I Could Make Beer This Good, TooHud a Wa is an incredibly-moreish drop which lingers, coating the palate with amber goodness.


Gunnamatta is, to be blunt, in a league of its own. It’s quite simply hauntingly good – the kind of beer that seriously makes you wonder why all beer isn’t this incredible. Some crazy folk may be turned-off by the words ‘Earl Grey’ on the label – but they needn’t be, since by my reckoning the tea is an impact player rather than a member of the starting XV. The amazing summer fruit aroma and flavour (which I later discovered to be bergamot oranges) gives this beer a distinctly summer-y feel; but while warm weather is the perfect accompaniment, it doesn’t really matter when you drink Gunnammatta – it only matters that you do.


And finally, to my great stonking 1.25L of Emerson’s Pilsner.

There are certain Cons to the Pros which have arisen by solving the Beer Money riddle a full six-weeks ahead of schedule. Okay, there’s really only one; due to some fast-tracked evolution in my beer-thinking, I’m much less likely to choose non-delicious beers – and so I’m fast running out of different ways to convey glowing praise. I mean, I very much like dishing out plaudits where they’re warmly due – but it does get a little on-the-nose when every second word is a blush-inducing compliment.

But f**k it, it’s my blog and I’ll praise if I want to.

Emerson’s Pilsner is, obviously, The Bomb. It has a distinctive piney-grassiness to it which separates it from the Pilsner pack – kind of like Richard Emerson’s signature in gustatory form. It’s so damned good that it’s come to represent the template* for our very own lager style, New Zealand Pilsner. The flavour is so distinctive that I reckon even I could pick this beer in a line-up – and my sense of taste is, well, pathetic.

In short, it’s a brilliant post-work pint – and while it tasted a little tired out of the rigger after three days (about a day longer than recommended, I think), it was still hands-down the best Pilsner I’ve had all year.

Pre-Lion-takeover King Richard is Dead:

Long Live King Richard.

And all is well.


*I originally wrote ‘Poster Child’ here, and then realised that despite using it often in conversation I didn’t know what it meant…needless to say, once I knew the definition, I changed the word to template (and promptly gave myself an uppercut for using it regularly without looking into its definition).


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