LAKEMAN Hopadelic IPA 7.5%
Never too late for an Austin Powers reference… I guess? This groovy IPA has sharp, distinct berry aromas on its nose. Uncommon notes of blackcurrant and blueberry over grapefruit and gooseberry. Lush hop character and a keen bitterness mesh well with the full malt backbone to produce a full-on IPA with all the trimmings. Yeah baby yea… nope, still can’t commit to it.
EPIC Birthday Ultra Pale Ale 5.9%
Brewed for Epic’s 14th birthday, this ‘ultra’ pale ale is brewed (partially) in response to the creep towards increasingly more hop-driven beers in the pale category judging. Utilising extra light pilsner malt, this pale ale aims to be an all-hop spectacle – and that’s exactly what it is. Clear and resolutely hop-driven on the nose with rockmelon, watermelon, gooseberry and lime. The palate is super clean and staggeringly dry, with a stark pilsner graininess running alongside the fresh hop character while the tight bitterness finishes off the compact finish. Minimalist, taut, tasty.
RODENBACH Grand Cru Flanders Red Ale 6%
During the past year, some of the more interesting mass-produced Belgian beers have made their way into supermarkets as six-packs. Rodenbach Grand Cru is (in my opinion) the most interesting of the lot. Blended from fresh and barrel aged (and soured) stock, it’s a wonderfully dynamic, complex and lively beer. Aromas of oak, tart cherry and licorice adorn the nose while sour plum, honey and oak assemble on the palate. It’s beer through the lens of wine, in true Belgian fashion, and a masterclass in sour beer that our local producers could well learn from.
EMERSON’S Threeway JuicySour IPA 6.7%
Emerson’s, Behemoth and Funk Estate came together to produce this long-distance collaboration. Brewed with Citra, Mosaic and Riwaka and then funked up with a little passionfruit and souring. There’s profoundly distinct mango and passionfruit on the nose, along with tangy orange and lime citrus. The palate is warm, ripe and just tart enough to cut a clean line through the soft tropical fruit. Finishing long and fruity, with a moderate bitterness that leaves the spotlight on the more delicate flavours. Ticks all the boxes as a great example of a sour, a fruit beer and an IPA.
THREE BOYS Prunus Stave 9.0%
A blend of barrel-soured IPA and strong apricot fruit ale. Tangy brett tartness leads on the nose, with soft stone fruit and roasted cashew nuts further in. The palate is much deeper and richer than the tart aroma suggests though. The sourness snaps briefly across the tongue, priming the taste buds for the wave of stone fruit richness that follows. Some more roasted nuts and smooth oak tannin linger into a superbly long finish. Proof positive that Three Boys can blend a barrel sour to match the very best of them. Here’s hoping their barrel program expands to produce more like this.
PARROTDOG Gavin Gose 4.4%
Kettle soured, brewed with coriander and pouring an incredibly light pale, this is the biggest departure yet from the big IPA styles of ParrotDog’s name-series of releases. It’s tart and wheaty on the nose, with the coriander coming through quite strong. Otherwise the aroma is very gentle and slight, which makes the palate that much more surprising. A blast of tartness, fruity wheat and coriander all hit at once, but each keeps a perfect balance across the palate. Finally, the salt moves in for a drying savory finish. Dynamic, flavourful and impeccably balanced.
CLOCKWORK GOLD Gumboe IPA 6%
The English IPA style is woefully underrepresented in New Zealand, so it’s always a pleasant surprise when a good one turns up. Right from the deep copper pour it’s obvious that there’s going to be some malt flavours at work here. Toffee and toasted malt lead on the nose with the pine and grapefruit hop notes coming in close behind. More chewy toffee and roasty malt on the palate, with a freshening herbaceous hop character slowly gaining ground and a firm bitterness that holds on through the long finish. If you wanted an IPA that could be called the ‘anti-hazy’ then you’ve got it right here.
SUNSHINE Port Barrel Imperial Stout 10%
I know a beer is special when I’ve gone over my word count and all I’ve done is jot down the tasting notes. This is very much one of those beers. Chocolate, freshly roasted coffee and licorice start off the nose, balanced by savory oak and smokey char. The palate is big and weighty, but the oak notes keep it nimble and remarkably lifted considering its huge alcohol strength. More dark chocolate and coffee, with a thread of savory smoke that mingles with the firm, lingering bitterness. One of the driest, and also one of the downright best Imperial Stouts I’ve tasted.