27 February 2008

Top 6 - Beer Towns In New Zealand

I have done this poll a number of times over the years and thought this would be a good opportunity to expand on just the city name. Here are the some of the best beer outlets that make these towns the best.

1. Wellington - what a great selection of beers all within walking distance. The Malthouse with its massive selection of bottled beers and tap beers. Also doing a great selections of craft beer are Bar Edward, D4 (new), Matterhorn, the list goes on, (actually I can't think of all the others right now) There is the bottle shop Regional Wines & Spirits with the largest selection of craft and imported beers in the country, including an ever changing selection of the best craft beer on Fill Your Own flagon. And Wellingtons only brewery (Lion Brown / Wellington Brewing / Shed 22 / Mac's Brewery, what every it's name is today) Mac's Brewery always with something new and innovative on tap. Special mention to Tuatara Brewery ,which is really a Wellington beer brand at heart but is based up the road in Waikanae, but is found all over Wellington and is great beer.

2. Auckland - three good brewpubs Galbraith's Alehouse, Hallertau & the Shakespeare Tavern. A number of beer themed pub chains Belgian Beer Cafe, Cock & Bull, Speight's Alehouse, Mac's BrewBars, and the Monteith's bars. Plus a number of independent bars slowly pushing the craft beer barrow, such as Suite. And home of Epic Brewing Company, with its award winning Epic Pale Ale

3. Christchurch - a couple of great brewpubs Dux de Lux (best beer garden in NZ), The Twisted Hop, also just out of Christchurch is Brew Moon. Also in town Three Boys, Wigram, and Harringtons. Some good beer bars include Zymergy, Pomeroy's and Cook n with Gas.

4. Hamilton - as much as the locals complain about not having enough in the way of good beer, they do have Hamilton Wine Company, a Belgian Beer Cafe and a Cock & Bull. Plus the secret Ruakura Campus Club, with great beers on tap at club prices.

5. Nelson - the hop growing region of New Zealand has a growing number of small breweries, Founders, Lighthouse, Tasman, Bays, Townsend and special mention to The Mussel Inn, not quite Nelson but worth the effort. The greatest thing about the Nelson region are the guys that run Dead Good Beer Events and regularly put on beer festivals.

6. Dunedin - well I needed a number six and the rest of New Zealand is a bit lean apart from one offs in towns with a brewery. Dunedin does have the old Speight's brewery which offers a great tour into a historical New Zealand brewery. And there is the Emerson Brewery as well. Eureka Cafe also offers a selection of craft beer.

What is you favourite New Zealand beer town

19 February 2008

Top 6 - Lost Kiwi Beers

Over time beers come and go due to many reasons. A lot of it these days is that everyone wants to drink international style lagers (or should I say drinking brands) that are bland and boring. So I thought I would come up with six beers that I would like to try again once, now that they are not available anymore.

1. Kiwi Lager - New Zealand's lost lager. The one that could have become our nations signature beer. DB had to stop making Kiwi Lager as part of their deal to start production of Heineken. Thanks Heineken.

2. Malt Mac - this was the most interesting beer to come out of Mac's. It was made with peated malt so had a big peaty scotch whisky taste, but behind that was a huge Cascade hop hit. Also was exported to the Michael Jackson Beer Club in the USA and was featured beer for a month.

3. Montieth's Sasion - best example of D Saaz in any beer made in New Zealand. A shame the public of New Zealand didn't get it (understand it I mean). Also a shame that they announced this beer on the same day they announced the closure and layoffs at the Greymouth Monteith's Brewery. It was possible the beginning of the commercialization of what had been an exciting brand with interesting beers.

4. Monteith's Dopplebock - I'm talking about the 7% version that was within style and the marketing people that didn't know anything about beer, hadn't called it a Winter Ale on the label. This beer was even better years after its best before date (yes a cellared beer, even vintaged can you believe it) as the slight oxidation continued to increase the malt. Awesome malt.

5. Mac's Hop Harvest Pilsner - this was the second best Mac's beer that was ever made. The hop aroma and flavour was at a level that could justify the term "hoppy". Nice work Mr Goldman.

6. Leopard Continental Lager - I'd like to try this again due to the fact it was one of my very first memories of drinking beer, and drinking from one of the old steel cans when I was a kid. It just tasted like beer then, be nice to have known what it actually tasted like. (not the rehashed version Lion came out with a few years ago, I'm talking about the 70's)

I could have included the likes of Australis Benediction or Romanov (cause I still have some), and the 1998 Pink Elephant Mammoth, or any number of obscure one off beers that most of the nation didn't get to try, but I didn't

Have a vote and make a comment on your own Lost Kiwi Beers.

05 February 2008

Top 6 - Beer Festivals in New Zealand

As craft beer quickly becomes more popular, and the selection of beers from craft breweries grow, we are seeing more and more Beer Festivals popping up around the country. Since we are heading into February we are hitting the peak month for getting out and sampling beer.

A Beer Festival should be that opportunity for you to sample beers you don't usually drink or don't have access to in your local market or area where you drink and shop.

1. Blues Brews & BBQ's - Mt Maunganui
This is the most successful beer festival in New Zealand, having just completed its 13th festival on 10th January 2008. The winning formula seems to be the mix of a good selection of beers, good food, entertainment in a family friendly environment. Glass size is manageable at 280ml, so you aren't tipping out much if you discover a dud beer. Historically 12,000 tickets sell out in 90 minutes. Not many people outside the local area know about this festival cause unless you have queued for your tickets you don't get to go. If you are keen to go, make sure you are in town the first week of December when tickets go on sale.

2. New Zealand Beer Festival - Auckland
This festival is the new boy in town and with the history of the previous Auckland based beer festivals it will be interesting to see this one make it past it's second year. I believe it will, as it is run professionally and with a long term vision to be bigger and better. Branding is solid and there is a huge spend on a broad range of media advertising. Interesting venue - in the stables of Ellerslie Racecourse, but it does give the insurance to shelter if it was to rain. 24 beer companies, 50+ different beers. Glass size is on the large side for sampling at 330ml but all beers this year are set at $5. 23rd February 2008

3. BrewNZ - Wellington
This year sees the return of the public side of BrewNZ with a public day at the Town Hall. Now that the Brewers Guild of New Zealand is running the show on behalf of the brewers, we are likely to see something that showcases the greatest beers New Zealand has on offer. Dates still to be finalized, September 2008.

4. Blues Brews & BBQ's - Blenheim
See above, another successful Blues,Brews & BBQ's festival held in the South. Have had issues with Police and the use of glassware in the last 12 months. See background story

5. Kumeu Beer Wine & Food Festival - Auckland
New organizers last year, so it will be interesting to see how this on goes on Saturday 9th February 2008. Only four breweries represented this year, but worth a visit, only 20 mins out of Auckland.

6. Brewfest - Wellington
Brewfest the unknown. Trenthem Racecourse. Sounds like a good selection of breweries, if we could just get an official list. 16th February 2008. We'll know in a couple of weeks.

What is your favourite Beer Festival in New Zealand? Vote now.