Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My winter escape

Winter. It’s not exactly everyone’s favourite season. But I love it. Winter is the best excuse for drinking smooth, dark ales to warm you from the inside out, and intensely hoppy brews to ward off that dreaded cold.

Unfortunately, this winter I have been too preoccupied with keeping warm and healthy (well, attempting to anyway) to share my very beery thoughts. No longer. I managed to survive winter relatively unscathed, thanks to some full-flavoured concoctions from many of my favourite kiwi brewers. And here are three reasons why winter was not so bad afterall.

Renaissance Elemental Porter 6% ABV
Elemental is my favourite Renaissance brew. The aromas are every girls dream – strong coffee, dark chocolate and a touch of roasted malt. The flavours of this black brew do not disappoint either. The first mouthful brings a big coffee hit, followed by a rich dark chocolate flavour and cocoa. Dark malt comes through at the end, slightly burnt to leave a bitterness on the palate and balance the subtle sweetness lingering from the chocolate. The perfect warming beer on a cold winters evening.

Epic Armageddon IPA Batch 1 6.66% ABV
More balanced than the 2008 version, Armageddon 09 has mega hops with a decent malt body. The hops are fruity, with a big citrus nose, and taste incredibly fresh. They are bitter, almost peppery, and linger for hours – everything Epic is about. But what impressed me most about this batch was the underlying malt character. A strong roasted malt flavour could be tasted in every sip, but did not take away from the big hops at all. If anything, the malt accentuated the flavour of the hops. No cold or flu could mask the big flavours of this beer, can’t wait to see how the 2010 will match up.

Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black 6% ABV
It’s not hard to see how this beer won a trophy at BrewNZ. Pot Kettle Black is not a rich, dark and warming ale or a fresh, hoppy beer – it’s both. And it does both incredibly well. My preference is to drink a hand pulled PKB, but I only got around to writing notes on the bottled version… whoops! But it is impossible for this beer to disappoint, It pours pitch black with a brown head, and smells of coffee, berries, roasted malt, hop, a bit of smoke, and dark chocolate. The flavours start off sweet, with dark chocolate and smooth caramel malt to warm the insides. This is followed by a black coffee bitterness, a bit of smoke, a subtle dark fruit flavour, and a strong, bitter hop finish which lingers. I am continually amazed at the sheer amount of flavour Yeastie Boys can pack into every beer - look out for Plan K and His Majesty. A well deserved best in class.

So although the winter blues have passed us by, keep the winter brews handy for those chilly spring nights when you need a bit of warmth and flavour. And look forward to hearing more from me.

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