Mac’s Hop Rocker (NZ)

My first beer in New Zealand for 25 years came complete with stunning views of the cloud-draped mountains above beautiful Kaikoura. With a name like ‘Hop Rocker’, I was expecting a fruity pale ale (having ordered from the menu rather than from the bar of the Pier Hotel) so was a little surprised when a pint of what turned out to be a pilsner arrived. Still, I was not to be disappointed.

Mac's Hop Rocker - great with seafood
Mac’s Hop Rocker – great with seafood


Pale straw in colour, Mac’s Hop Rocker is crisp and clean, and cuts through the dust of a 2’1/2hr road trip up from Christchurch. I might not have been what I expected but it was surely what I needed. The taste is delicate and nuanced, there’s light undertones of chardonnay grapes and a slight honey sweetness. It was the perfect accompaniment to the rather wonderful seafood platter served by the good folk of the Pier Hotel. The first of many Macs to come.

Conversely, a seafood platter goes well with a pint of Hop Rocker.
Conversely, a seafood platter goes well with a pint of Hop Rocker.


Here’s late Baby Boomer band, Generation X, with “King Rocker” ……





3 Ravens Dark Smoke Beer (AUS)

Could you get a more gothic name for a beer? 3 Ravens ………. dark ……… smoke ………….. it sounds like the lyrics to a Bauhaus song! Of course, then there’s the mention of beer and traditionally, Goths are cider drinkers. I tried my 3 Ravens Smoke Beer in the beer garden of the wonderfully old skool Yarra Hotel in Abbotsford, Melbourne, without a goth in sight.

3 Ravens Dark Smoke Beer ... strangely there are 4 ravens on the label?
3 Ravens Dark Smoke Beer … strangely there are 4 ravens on the label?

This is indeed a  dark beer, the colour of antique mahogany, cloudy or you might say, smokey. The aroma and initial taste is (un)surprisingly smokey too. Like a fermented Lap Sang Su Chong tea, once you are over the first sip, the smokiness dies down and the beer becomes ……… interesting. Not quite a session beer but I reckon it’d go well with barbecued ribs or pork sliders. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

Here’s the kings of moderation, The Pogues, with “Bottle of Smoke” ……..


Rising Sun Pale Ale – Baird Brewery (JAP)

We’ve tried English Pale Ale; American Pale Ale, Australian, Kiwi and now Japanese. The Japanese used to be famous for taking useful things and making them smaller. In this case the beer remains the same size but the wallet is shrunk dramatically. Call me tight (or as us Cornish like to say, ‘careful’), but I had steered clear of the Rising Sun because of its $8.99 a bottle price tag (cherching, cherching …..). So, rather than pay $159 a case, I waited until it was close to sell by date and picked up a bottle for less than 5 bucks.

Rising Sun Pale Ale ...... it'll transistorise your wallet in minutes!
Rising Sun Pale Ale …… it’ll transistorise your wallet in minutes!

Having said all that, I love the label design, it reminded me of an old Siouxsie and the Banshees t-shirt I used to own. The beer contained within is pretty damned good too. A frosty golden brown, it has a high degree of carbonation with an aroma of unset marmalade. There’s flavours of ripening nectarine and Navel Oranges and the deeper you go, the more fruity it gets. I bow down to the Baird Brewery, Rising Sun is illuminating indeed.

I’d happily pay $8.99 for this in a Melbourne bar but if you ever see me forking out $159 for a case of beer, please take me home …. I’ve obviously had enough!

In honour of my t-shirt, here’s Siouxsie, from the 1980 album ‘Kaleidoscope’ with ‘Red Light’ ……………