Tag Archives: New Zealand

Pils ‘n’ Thrills – Bohemian Pilsner – Garage Project (NZ)

Thanks to my sponsor, Pete R, I was supplied with this little beauty from across the ditch when he returned from a weekend on the piste. Regular readers will know that I’m no lager lout, but for this Garage Project project I’m willing to bend the rules.

I have no bellyaches about ‘Pils ‘n’ Thrills’ despite it being a lager

Named after one of the greatest albums ever made, this is a German-style pilsner with a twist. Slightly cloudy and pale straw in colour, it weighs in at a sturdy 5.5%. The first sip and aroma says ‘Pilsner’ but this has more body than your average Pils. There’s the usual malty flavours you expect in a lager but there’s also a great, zesty, bitter finish that leaves the mouth watering and wanting more, always a good quality in a beer.  Well done to the Wellington Garage Project Crew, I’m sad it’s all gone.

Any excuse to play some Happy Mondays, from the aforementioned ‘Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches’, here’s ‘Loose Fit’……



Stoke NPA – Aromatic Nelson Pale Ale – McCashin’s Brewery (NZ)

Made in beautiful Nelson, at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, McCashin’s ales are brewed with 14,000 year-old Paleo water. According to a reliable, oft-updated online encyclopedia, former All Black and brewery founder, Terry McCashin is credited with being ‘first in craft’ and starting the “craft beer revolution” in New Zealand, and changing the course of the beer industry in New Zealand. Sadly, Terry passed away last year but this Stoke NPA is part of his legacy.

Stoke NPA – another piece of All Black magic

This ‘hand crafted’ aromatic pale ale is typical of the Stoke range by McCashin’s Brewery, beautifully balanced and eminently drinkable. Slightly cloudy and antique pine in colour, this is a session ale with depth. The mix of Riwaka and Galaxy hops make for a refreshing brew with subtle undertones of pine needles and kumquat.

From NPA and the Nelson ghetto we get NWA with Straight Outta Compton ………



Epic Pale Ale – Epic Brewing Company (NZ)

Here’s another installment in my occasional series of airport beers. It can often be quite hard to find to find a good craft beer in an airport as the multi-nationals tend to corner the market. Singapore’s Changi $18 pint of Carlsberg is a case in point. Thus I was pleasantly surprised with the choice at Wellington Airport.

Epic Pale Ale – don’t judge a book by it’s cover

As the name might suggest, Epic Brewing Company believe that their beers “just taste bigger”.  Their Pale Ale pours a lovely teak-brown with pine cone and honey aromas. Perhaps my taste buds had been over stimulated by the punchy flavours of the earlier Tomahawk APA but I found this ale to be quite subtle and not that ‘big’ in the flavour department at all.

There are hints of hazelnuts (huh, Cadbury’s take ’em and they cover them in chocolate!), nougat and perhaps sweet mandarins. Definitely an enjoyable experience but ‘epic’ might be an exaggeration

You want it all but you can’t have it. Here’s Faith No More with something that really is ‘Epic’ …..

Tomahawk APA – Tuatara Brewing (NZ)

It’s been a long time between Tuatara’s that’s for sure. Too long in fact, but now I have the chance to make up for lost time ‘cos I’m back in the land of The Long White Cloud for a couple of weeks and beer is on the menu.

Tomahawk APA – drink with forked tongue

Similar to the Aotearoa Pale Ale the reviewed earlier, this is a beautifully balance American Pale Ale. Charged with ‘big-tasting American hops’, the Tuatarans have brought this pale to the edge, without going over the top. The result is a tangy, refreshing mix of citrus and pine flavours that cleanses  palate without removing the scalp. The perfect airport ale.

Talking of scalps, the British & Irish Lions play the All Blacks in the First Test tomorrow night. Now that would be a scalp worth taking!

Here’s The War On Drugs with ‘Baby Missiles ……… get it?


Boundary Road Brewery – American Pale Ale (NZ)

Boundary Road APA ...... quite at home on the range
Boundary Road APA …… horses drink it by the trough full.

American-style pales can be overdone, over hopped …. like a drunk boxer in a night club, just a little too punchy. When done well, the APA is a thing of beauty and the gateway to refreshment and satisfaction.

New Zealand’s Asahi-owned, Boundary Road Brewery have got the balance right with this one. Their American Pale Ale is a honey-coloured brew, with a floral, piney aroma. There’s plenty of fizz on the tongue, beautiful orange zest undertones and a pine sap finish.  I can’t wait to try the American Double IPA ………… although that could come out swinging like a drunk boxer. We’ll see.

Here’s vintage pale American, Bruce Springsteen with ‘Thunder Road’ …………..

Moa Five Hop – Moa Brewing Co (NZ)

Any beer with a cork in the top of the bottle that pops like champagne when you open it has got to be good. This multi-award wining English-style ale from Blenheim’s Moa Brewing Co lives up to it’s billing.

Moa Five Hop - Heaven in a bottle
Moa Five Hop – Heaven in a bottle


Cloudy teak in colour, it has the aroma of freshly baked bread with honey. It’s tight bubbles hold a good head and slide the ale smoothly over your tongue. The taste is complex, as you’d expect from a combination of five hops, and deeply satisfying. I detect hints of brandy barrels and spices, creamed honey and pine needles. Another winner from a great Kiwi brewer, Heaven in a bottle.

Here’s the very wonderful James Teague with ‘Heaven’, keep an eye out for his new album, ‘Beyond The Melting Dawn’ due for release in November 15 …………………

Tane Manuka Smoke Beer – Herne Brewing Company (NZ)

blurred image of a bottle of tane
Tane Manuka Smoke Beer …… cheaper than honey!

I’m not sure why this photo is so blurry, I hadn’t even had a beer before I took it, perhaps it was the excitement! I sampled this little beauty on our Christmas NZ tour. The South island has a rich vein of craft beer running through it and this one is a diamond.

Reading from my infamous tasting notes on the phone (that explains the shit photo!), I had this down as being made by the Herbert Brewing Company. Once again misled by the damned auto-correct, of course it’s made by the Herne Brewing Company of West Otago.  Brewed in honour of the legendary god of the forest, Tane, this is a fine-tasting, award-winning  smoke beer, reminiscent of the Manuka bacon we ate for breakfast on Christmas morning. Now I’ve never seen a Manuka but if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on one, you’re better off smoking it than feeding to your bees, cos the honey is really expensive!

A great diner ale, try it with venison or wild boar, or as I did, with tarragon chicken.

Here’s the legendary god of the forest, Robert Smith, with The Cure and ………….. ‘A Forest’




Three Boys IPA – Three Boys Brewery (NZ)

Three boys bottle top with stick man logo


You know you’re behind with your reviews when the beer you drank on Christmas Eve is being written up on 21st May. This one is worth waiting for though. We spent Christmas in New Zealand with my bestest mates and what a fab time we had. I spent much of that time trying educate their palates with fine craft ales. They soon got the hang of it and we replaced the old ‘6 O’Clock Club’ with the ‘5 O’Clock Tasting’.

Three boys with Three Boys
Three boys with two Three Boys

Deciphering my tasting notes has become easier and it didn’t take me long to work out that this was an IPA and not an iPad. Three Boys Brewery is based in Christchurch and they earn top marks for bottle and label design, I like attention to detail (in other people). Their IPA is golden brown in colour and  has caramel and citrus aromas. Light and zesty, I detected fresh lemons and hints of pine needles. Not overly hopped for an IPA, it’s a refreshing ale ideally suited to early doors drinking. We all wanted another one ………… oh go on, it’s Christmas!

Here’s three boys called ‘The Jam’ with ‘Little Boy Soldiers’ ……….

Black Peak Coffee Stout – Wanaka Beerworks (NZ)


There can’t be many more appropriate  places to enjoy a bottles of Black Peak Coffee Stout than on the shores of beautiful Lake Wanaka, nestled in the snow-capped mountains of Otago. Brewed locally by the Wanaka Beer Works. Their website is still under construction, but as my Uncle Ron used to say, “nothing any good was ever made in a hurry”.

Image of bottle of Black Peak Coffee Stout on the shores of Lake Wanaka, NZ
Black Peak Coffee Stout – it’s “loco rice!”


One of the problems with not blogging immediately after a tasting is that you have to rely on notes. One of the problems with relying on notes, typed with fat fingers on to an iPhone is that you end with notes like “loco rice” and you haven’t got a clue what it means! Answers on a postcard please. Other tasting notes are more revealing. This is a beautifully creamy stout, with an aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans. On the tongue, there’s espresso, acetone and hint of black jelly babies. ‘Bloody lovely’ ……. according to the notes.

Why then would anyone commit the heinous crime detailed here? :http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/10704918/Beer-spilt-in-vandalism-attack

No point crying over it ………… here’s the very wonderful Sir James Spaceman and Spiritualized with ‘Stop Your Crying’………






Hopwired IPA – 8 Wired Brewery (NZ)

This was my Christmas Eve beer, and what a beauty it was! I had a little help reviewing this one in the form of two old friends, with years of beer-drinking experience.

Hopwired IPA - gets your motor running
Hopwired IPA – gets your motor running


Hopwired IPA is superbly complex ale that pours a beautifully clear brandy gold. The aroma is rich and varied, we noted passionfruit, fresh papaya and tinned tangerines! The boys picked up on the alcohol content (it’s a hefty 7.3%) which only added to the song, bitter finish, leaving your palate tingling with undertones of fresh lime and pine needles. A great American-style IPA for those that like their ales like a drunk Marine …….. strong and punchy.

If we had bought more, I’d have left one out for Santa. I’ll be putting some on my list for next Christmas.

My timing might not be the greatest, but here’s U2, with “I Believe In Father Christmas” …………