Week 18: A Native of the North-Folk

Dates: 28th October – 3rd November, 2013

Bottle shop(s): Countdown Johnsonville, Regional Wines and Spirits and New World Thorndon, Wellington

Beer(s):

  1. Barrel Aged Porter, by Monteiths (a.k.a. DB…well, Asahi) (1 x 500ml bottle, $4.99)
  2. Brewers Reserve Vertumnus Pilsner, by Emerson’s (1.25L rigger, $12.00)
  3. Copper Tart Red Ale, by Hallertau (1 x 330ml bottle, $4.99)

Total: $21.98

It’s a period of rapid change here in Casa-de-BeerMoneyBlog.  As a matter of fact, I’m writing this post from atop a leaky air mattress, surrounded by abject emptiness – an enduring reminder that my wee family have already departed for our new home in Auckland, leaving me alone in Welly to Settle Affairs.

(Trust me when I say: my chosen profession of academia is not for the I-don’t-like-completely-uprooting-my-life-every-three-years crowd.  But that’s a matter for a different post…or blog, really – I sense another project waiting in the wings…)

It’s going to be gougingly sad to leave Wellington – a city which has given so much more than it ever asked of me. Top of the list is my son Noah, who popped out of The Sun Roof at the end of 2011 – but second on the list is, of course, my now-enduring affection, desire and outright-addiction to actually-tasty beer.

Before I came to this town, I was on the slippery Green Bottle slope, drinking 5-percenters largely as a social lubricant rather than for the taste – which in retrospect was borderline-moronic (and yet seemingly a common practice).  I not only subscribed to the oft-touted (and entirely Bullshit) Beer Is Beer mantra, but even more damagingly to the one which espouses that Beer Should Be Cheap.

Becoming an unabashed Wellingtonian for the past three years has up-ended me, shaken out these destructive habits, popped me back on my feet and nudged me towards The Light. I’ve already spoken of my Tuatara-driven craft beer epiphany in a third-world hostel on Riddiford St, and in retrospect that’s where it all began – a thirsty search for A Beer Less Ordinary.

Welly, I’ll miss you and think of you often with sincere fondness – but the fact remains that deep-down I’m a Native of the North-Folk, and I’m being called home. With great fortune, I’ve just discovered that Liquorland Howick has put in a ten-tap craft beer fill-your-own system – so the part of my heart which is now Forever Wellington will feel right at home, I’m sure.

With the permanent shift edging nearer by the day, I’m now furiously rushing around trying to do all those things which I love the most about this fair city – an exercise which reached a crescendo last weekend with a hike from Eastbourne up to Pencarrow Lighthouse (a truly amazing walk if you get the chance) followed by a trip to my favey FYO spot, Regionals.

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It should be no surprise that after sweating for several hours, what I really wanted to do was dive head-first into a vat of Emerson’s Pilsner – but unfortunately I’d already reviewed it last week, so it was back to the Keg List…And there it was, sitting in the corner, on Tap #20: Emerson’s Vertumnus, an American-hopped incarnation of the outstanding NZ-hopped Pilsner.

Now that’s tin-arse luck.

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Last week, I said that Emerson’s Pilsner is The Bomb; well, if that’s the case, then Vertumnus is The Nuke. It has a gorgeous fresh lime zest flavour and aroma, which I assume comes from the mounds of citrusy American hops. I’ve heard that Emerson’s use their Pilsner as the base for this beer (or they at least share similar recipe elements), which makes perfect sense since it has the same delicious grassiness to it which makes Pilsner so unique.  In short, Vertumnus is an Über-delicious drop, perfect for enjoying in the sun after walking for far too long while wearing far less sunscreen than you ought to have applied.

I’ll flick through the other two beers a wee bit quicker than usual (having wanked on whimsically for far too long about moving away from Welly) – Monteith’s Barrel-Aged Porter was a yummy stout-thing, with a reasonably-unxious caramel texture (and, at five bucks, a pretty solid investment). At a Meta-level, I’ve found this Brewers Series from Monteiths a bit of a mixed bag – but overall the series is a solid improvement from their base beer range, and it’s Very Comforting Indeed to think that the beers are actually brewed by the crew down on the West Coast (for whom I have screeds more affection after reading the near-full chapter of Michael Donaldson’s Beer Nation dedicated to them).

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As for the Hallertau Copper Tart Red Ale, I must – in the interests of full disclosure – make a shocking admission:

I was a smidge disappointed.

But don’t worry, Hallertau: since I’m a craft beer Neanderthal, we can safely assume that It’s Not You, It’s Me.

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In truth, I think I was disappointed by Copper Tart because it didn’t floor me with amazing palate-warping flavours – which is my fault, not Hallertau’s.  I obviously need to learn to appreciate more subtlety from a craft beer, and not expect to be Punched in the Palate every time I spend more than $1.50 on a 330ml bottle.

So let’s have a crack at re-doing this review, by cognitively re-framing my experience:

This is a highly-approachable beer with mild malt complexity and subtle bitterness. It’s a brilliant ‘gateway’ beer, which can safely be handed to a non-Beer Geek without annihilating their palate.

See what I did there?

Seamless.

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