Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Piracy has been headline news in the past few weeks as Somalian pirates continue to hijack a considerable number of vessels passing through the Gulf of Aden, also known as 'Pirate Alley'.

When the world is facing such economic instability, ransoms of several million US dollars have been paid to the Somalian pirates without so much as a blink of an eye in order to secure the safe release of crew members and (in the majority of recent cases) millions of dollars worth of oil. It is certainly not a bad days work for the pirates, who don't even need to threaten the lives of hostages before large sums of money have exchanged hands.

With this widespread media attention of late, a recent trip to Regional Wines & Spirits resulted in my bringing home a 10.5% Belgian beer named 'Piraat'. Unfortunately, the beer does not reflect in any way the dispicable behaviour of those pirates roaming the African seas.

The beer embraces the pirate name by being a bold and daring drop, rich in both colour and flavour. It pours a beautiful amber-golden colour with a fluffy white head. Malt is the dominant flavour throughout, however, there is a strong sweetness to the beer thanks to the citrus and grape-like flavours which balance the bitterness well.

At 10.5%, there was undoubtedly a shocking alcoholic flavour at first. My best friend's only reaction to her her first (and last) taste was a very fitting "Arrrrgh!!!!" But after a few mouthfuls the strong alcohol is completely masked by the complex and smooth flavours of both the malty bitterness and fruity sweetness. One most definitely feels the strength of the beer by the end of the glass however.

As the pirates of the storybooks like to say, "Yo ho ho!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hoppy Heaven

Despite a price rise in packaged beer looming, Lion Nathan's Mac's Brewery range was on special for $9.99 a 6-pack at my local supermarket this week. Taking advantage of the low price, I grabbed a pack of the Hop Rocker Pilsener. In my opinion, it's the best pilsener lager on offer from the two mainstream brewing companies in New Zealand.

The Hop Rocker has a lightly hopped nose with floral notes, but the first sip offers a far more complex flavour than the aroma's let on. A smooth mix of passionfruit, malt and floral hops which both begin and finish the mouthful. Quite sweet at the start, perhaps a hint of vanilla, but a powerful hoppy bitterness to stay true to the Czech style. Beautifully refreshing, perfect to enjoy with the last of the afternoon sun.

The beer looks great too. A deep golden colour with a white fluffy head.

And, Mac's have packaged the range in a really cool way: block letters on colour-coded background - it's as if the letters have been painted on the wooden panels of a kiwi holiday bach.

Plus, there are several different labels on the back side of the bottles, so there is something new to learn on the back of each bottle in the pack. Awesome.

My definite favourite of the Mac's Brewery range.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Beer prices to rise

As the Western world is facing a period of uncertainty due to the unexpected "credit crunch", currencies have weakened, food prices are rising and employment is becoming harder to find.
It was only a matter of time before new Zealand's beer industry was also effected by the weakened economic climate.

New Zealand's Dominion Breweries (DB) have announced that from March 2009, the price of their packaged beer products will rise by up to 5% due to rising glass, aluminum and cardboard costs. That's an extra 10c per bottle in a Monteiths 6-pack, or an extra 30c for a Heinekin at your local pub. All this starts to add up when hosting a family barbecue or buying a round on a Friday night.

DB's biggest rival on the local beer market, Lion Nathan, are yet to comment on whether a similar rise will be seen in their products, but in the current financial climate it looks like there will be more bad news for local beer consumers next March.

On the bright side, with summer just around the corner there will be many beer bargains to take advantage of before the price hike in March.

For full article as it appeared in the NZ Herald click here.