Spring into a Summer of Mayhem
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 12:40

It is officially Day Two of summer in Wellington and is fair to say that the weather so far has been consistent.  Unfortunately, it has been consistently horrible with plenty of rain, strong winds and low temperatures.   Anyone would think there was a cricket test scheduled for tomorrow or something. Even some of my green-tinged acquaintances have indicated that a little global warming wouldn’t go amiss at the moment while some of my less charitable friends have accused Al Gore of stealing summer. 

Perhaps deciding that horizontal rain counts as summer in his native Glasgow, the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Proprietor has decreed that now is the time for a summer beer festival.  The event is called “Spring into Summer”, a celebration of the largely golden, hoppy beers which are so popular in the (supposedly) warmer months of the year.  It will run from Friday 4 December to around December 15.

To launch the event, Brian Thiel from the celebrated Renaissance Brewery in Blenheim will be running a tasting at the Malthouse on Friday 4 December from 5:30pm.  Their citrus bomb Discovery American Pale Ale and zesty Paradox Summer Ale will both make a rare appearance on tap. 

When I first met the Renaissance crew (brewer Andy Deuchars and sales/customer relations/marketing/engineering/quality control manager Brian Thiel) they had just taken over the old and rather dilapidated Dodson’s Brewery.  They cleaned up and fixed up the plant.  Brian, a highly qualified Mercedes Benz and BMW mechanic even resurrected the old brewery forklift which had been given up for dead some years earlier. 

Andy has been making wine since he was 12 and beer since he was 15.  He hails from the Pacific Northwest is known in America as ale country.  To date, Renaissance have not dabbled in lagers or wheat beers and show no inclination of doing so.  At our first meeting, Andy told me that “we like big, big beers” and they are all heavily hopped.  His brewing motto, he said, was that “if it is worth doing, it is worth overdoing!”  I like that.

Since opening, Renaissance has come a long way.  Their bottled products in the award-winning packaging are appearing on more shelves around the country.  A far cry from the early days when Brian lamented “our beers are conveniently available almost nowhere.”

In addition to Renaissance Paradox and Renaissance Discovery, a number of other golden brews will be appearing at various times during the festival period.  These include old Malthouse favourite Captain Cooker from our talented and environmentally-conscious friends at the Mussel Inn.  Twisted Hop’s rather excellent Sauvin Pils will be making a quenching reappearance too.

In a welcome (if temporary) return, Emerson’s beloved Maris Gold is coming back soon for a limited time.  Tragically dropped from the permanent range, it will now appear occasionally as a Brewer’s Reserve.  On its day, Maris Gold was one of the finest beers in the nation with lashings of citrus and spicy hops in the mouth.  Expectations will be high for this revival brew.  The brewery writes “Unlike the original October 2000 recipe with all NZ Cascade hops, we have added American hops as well in the kettle boil and dry-hopping in the maturation tank.  This gives a subtle level of hop flavour complexities while still refreshing as a summer golden ale.”

There are also intriguing offerings from two of the best new-school brewers who are producing some wonderful beers at the moment.  From the Yeastie Boys, their new offering Nerdherder (which I mistakenly thought was called Nerd Hunter for a week) promised to be a “staunchly bitter and sessionable” pale ale.   It is brewed for the Boys at Invercargill Brewery.  Here is what Yeastie #2 Stu had to say:

“We're constantly looking for that perfect quaffable pale ale and are always experimenting with what we can get out of NZ hops.  Although we know that the perfect pale ale doesn't really exist in reality, we love the journey, the gatherings of beer geeks that we meet on that trek, and the unique flavours that we experience every time we try a new beer. 
 
Nerdherder was originally conceived after discussing the slightly under-developed catalogue of the 'NZ Pale Ale' style with a few members of the Society of Beer Advocates (most NZ brewers, we concluded, tend to focus more on their NZ Pilsner than their NZ Pale).  The Nerdherder recipe was then developed as a bit of a tribute to - but certainly not a clone of - a few of our favourite New Zealand pale ales over the last decade.  Most of these ales are long gone - now consigned to history but certainly far from forgotten.  Though, ironically, one of them is returning this summer as a limited release.”

I’m pretty sure he is referring to Maris Gold in that last line though I guess it could be Monteith’s Summer Ale…

There is also a new beer from 8 Wired Brewery though to be honest because it is such a new brewery all their beers are new at them moment.  So new in fact that their website proudly declares “No news bulletins yet. Our very existence is still news!”  Their latest offering is called Hopwired IPA which they describe as “a uniquely New Zealand take on the craft beer classic: IPA West Coast style.”  It is made at Renaissance and, while I haven’t tried it yet, a softly-spoken spy has.  He described it as “Armageddon-like” which is stratospheric praise indeed.

Finally, Epic Mayhem returns much to my delight and Dux de Lux Ginger Tom is back simply to annoy me.

Cheers


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine

Links

Spring into Summer Facebook page -

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/event.php?eid=213824058464&ref=ts
Renaissance -  http://www.renaissancebrewing.co.nz/
Mussel Inn - http://www.musselinn.co.nz/
Twisted Hop - http://www.thetwistedhop.co.nz/
Emerson’s – http://www.emersons.co.nz/
Yeastie Boys - http://www.yeastieboys.co.nz/
Yeastie Boys Brewing Winners in the Lounge -

http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/local/3117279/Brewing-winners-in-the-lounge
8 Wired Brewing - http://www.8wired.co.nz/index.html
Epic Mayhem - http://epicbeer.com/epic-mayhem/
Ginger Tom - http://www.thedux.co.nz/index.cfm/Christchurch/Beers___Brewery
Malthouse Facebook Group - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wellington/Malthouse/7084276173
Real Beer – http://www.realbeer.co.nz/blog/blog.html
Beer and Brewer Magazine - http://www.beerandbrewer.com/