Hallertau's Hopping Good Beers
Wednesday, 29 July 2009 11:36


Stephen Plowman, “a self admitted beer guru”, may be the first brewer in New Zealand to use the word “epicurean” correctly in context to describe his hospitality philosophy.   Hallertau, opened by Stephen and his wife Hayley in 2005, is a boutique rural brewpub based on a “desire to share their love of brewing and the basic principle of epicurean lifestyle with customers and friends alike.” 

In order to prevent everyone having to frantically click on dictionary dot com and then try to spell the big word correctly, this blog can reveal that epicurean is defined as “devoted to the pursuit of sensual pleasure, especially to the enjoyment of good food and comfort.”  [Source: www.dictionary.com

So move over Naked Chef, here comes the Sensual Brewer!

Sadly, the really rather sensual Hallertau beers are infrequent visitors to Wellington.  The vast majority of the range (which includes a Kolsch, a Pale Ale, a Schwarzbier and a Red Ale) are made, poured and drunk at their Riverhead establishment.  We have managed to lure Stephen south to battle Luke Nicholas from Epic in the now annual West Coast IPA Challenge which is currently underway at Malthouse.  This year, he has bought a few kegs of his other beers to keep Maximus company as it battles with Armageddon.

Hallertau Saison has been on tap for a week or so.  Saison is a very traditional style of Belgian farmhouse ale which also happens to be a registered trademark of DB who clearly must have had a hand in its invention centuries before they were established.  The Saison style easily polarises drinkers because people either love or loathe the funk.  As a result, some brewers have cleaned their Saison’s up but to me that misses the whole point.

Stephen has, in a self-admitted beer guru manner, stayed true and even celebrated the noble funkiness.  He notes that “our version is hopped with four kilograms of fresh hops grown at the brewery to give it some local funk.  It pours a hazy deep gold with a spicy citrus and bubblegum aroma.  This beer glides across the palate, light and fresh with a soft earthy creaminess and refreshing, slightly sour.” 

The Saison is a memorable beer but it is indeed now just a memory as it has run out and been replaced by Hallertau Statesman, a 5.3% Pale Ale with a robust 37 IBUs.  The Sensual Brewer believes that drinkers will exclaim “hops galore” on first sup.  While this exact reaction is unlikely but possible, Statesman is a well balanced Pale Ale with a balance of clean, sweet malt and floral hops.  Attempting to expand the beer lexicon, Stephen says the beer is “both zesty and tangy, indeed, we reckon you’ll find it uniquely ‘zangy’.” 

Statesman is a fine pale ale worth trying.  More seasoned imbibers might (somewhat hazily) remember Hallertau Stuntman, a festive version of Statesman produced a couple of years ago, which had a monstrous level of hopping and turbo-charged alcoholic strength.  It was terrifying yet enormously fun.

Later in the year Hallertau may be surprised to find out they will definitely be sending Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor a case or two of their superb Porter Noir.  This is the Take Your Daughter to the Porter beer (launched at Malthouse last month) which has been aged in pinot barrels before undergoing a secondary bottle fermentation using a native yeast.  The yeast is brettanomyces, the famous yeast which gives Orval its trademark sweaty horse blanket whiff. 

Commenting on last year’s batch, Stephen described the Porter Noir as having “layers of complexity, red currents, earthy gumboots, a stroll through the barnyard?  All very interesting stuff.”  Remember, that is the brewer describing it.  Interestingly, it could well be the first beer to feature “currents”.  There will be more to come on this beer in later blogs.

Speaking of Orval, the rumour mill is whirling madly that this beer could be exceptionally hard to source in New Zealand for a while thanks to the global recession.  If you haven’t tried this Trappist Ale before, now might be the perfect time.  It is literally a beer you will never forget. 

Finally, Armageddon may have passed but Beervana is fast approaching.  This is the largest beer festival in the country and will take place in the Town Hall and venues around Wellington in late August.  There will be public tasting sessions, beer seminars, a launch party and the Brew NZ Beer Awards.  I will also be conducting beer and food matching demonstrations with top chef Martin Bosley.  Full details are being progressively placed on the Beervana website which is linked below for your pleasure and convenience.

Cheers

 
Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine

Links

Hallertau - http://www.hallertau.co.nz/index.php?page=home
Take Your Daughter to the Porter - http://www.themalthouse.co.nz/index.php/blog/89-the-porters-daughters-kettle-calls-the-pot-black
Beervana - http://brewersguild.org.nz/beervana/
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/