Wild weather & wild beer in Auckland's west
Today Auckland has been battered by the worst storm in a decade (allegedly) - high winds and heavy rain have led to weather forecasters advising people to stay indoors and only travel if absolutely necessary. So thankfully it was absolutely necessary that we drove over to Hallertau bar & restaurant to sample some of the most amazing and unique beers I'll ever get to wrap my tastebuds around.
Hallertau brews a range of pretty fine beers and serves some excellent food, so it's worth a visit at any time. However, at the moment it's also serving three rather special beers which makes a visit even more essential.
The first of these is a traditional German Bock which was the winner of last year's SOBA National Homebrewing Competition. Dan from Gore won the competition with this beer and part of his prize was to get it brewed by Hallertau on a commercial scale.
The other two beers are a pair of IPAs brewed as a challenge by Luke Nicholas (owner/brewer of Epic) and Steve Plowman (brewer at Hallertau). They each undertook to brew a strong IPA, Luke using American ingredients and Steve using New Zealand ingredients (malt & hops). Both beers were brewed at Hallertau and launched at the Malthouse in Wellington last week. They made their belated arrival in Auckland on Thursday at Hallertau, hence my burning desire to be there this weekend come hell or high water (and the water was pretty high under the Riverhead bridge!).
An very pleasant afternoon was spent sampling the three beers along with some excellent food and excellent conversation with Barry (fellow SOBA member) and Steve the brewer. Even my wife liked the beers, and my son played happily in the Hallertau lounge. It really is a great place. I then picked up a takeaway bottle of each beer and resolved to sit down and conntemplate them in a bit more detail this evening.
The photo shows the three beers. From left to right: Bock, Maximus Humulus Lupulus (Steve's IPA), Epic Armageddon (Luke's IPA).
So after sitting down with a wineglass of each beer here are my thoughts:
- Traditional Bock. 6.3% ABV. Moderate aroma of coffee/chocolate with a little raisiny alcohol sneaking through. Creamy light-brown head sitting on a reddish-brown beer. Slight haze, possibly a chill haze. Flavour is very well balanced with strong chocolatey malt balanced by a backbone of underlying (but not over-evident) bitterness. While starting sweet and chewy it finishes dry with just a hint of raisiny alcohol. A nice beer. Perhaps just a fraction too much alcohol in the finish, but very drinkable. 17/20
- Maximus Humulus Lupulus. 6.66% ABV. Big hop aroma. Quite perfumed though, rather than heavily resined. Citrus tends towards bitter orange. Not a lot of head on this sample (although it was a complete bitch to pour in the bar - the staff were cursing Steve, with a smile on their face!). On the pale side of amber in colour. Rich and round with an oily mouthfeel, the hops coming through slightly later to elongate the flavour and push on into the finish. Bitterness is assertive but not overpowering. Lots of floral (jasmine?) notes in there. Long lasting finish is pretty balanced. A superb beer. 18/20
- Epic Armageddon. 6.66% ABV. The hops climb out of the glass and cuff you around the head before you can even get your nose in the glass. Lots of hop resin, lots of grapefruit. Decent off-white head on top of a dark amber beer, darker than the Maximus. Doesn't start as sweet as the Maximus and the hops kick in faster and harder. A creamy mouthfeel is blasted away by coating hops. Balance in this beer is all about running along a tightrope in hobnail boots. It's a hell of a ride. The bitterness lingers in the mouth for hours. 17/20