Some meanderings on NZ beer

Catching your own fush makes the chups taste better!

Well I’m back from NZ now after a week of wandering around North of Auckland. NZ is as the locals say “choice bro”, nice green places, quietness, fush and chups and strangely it seems a lot of guys wearing girls jeans in Auckland (I may have been in an overly trendy area).  I need to add that we actually caught our own fush to accompany the chups. All good.
NZ is a great place for making sure that you are as far from work as possible, I think the North bit of the North Island may just be the best place for doing this. In my oh so short break I managed to find plenty of good places to eat, most notably Moo Chow Chow in Auckland, some bloody big Kaouri trees, a winery and a spot of snapper fishing. I also checked out what NZ has to say for its self about beer, bars and breweries.
I probably need to mention that Moo Chow Chow was really bloody good. Its only been open for a few weeks and we fluked upon it, scoring a seat at the bar. Excellent food, nice and relaxed. possibly the best restaurant in NZ. Living near this place would be bad for my health as the pork was so good. Go there. No really, go there.
Bars included offerings from the major NZ breweries;

    Northern Steamship Co. Mac’s bar lamps on the roof.
    Would this make me feel better or worse if I fell over?
  • Macs – kind of NZ’s James Squire, they have an excellent bar on the Auckland bay in the old Northern Steamship Company Building. I think this is kind of their flagship bar, had a Witt and a red ale (best I can guess is some kind of English mild?) both really good. The lamps hanging from the roof and comfy chairs were also pretty good. This is a real nice bar and I could see my self making it a regular haunt if I lived a little closer.
  • Speights and Lion Red – more or less CUB and Lion Nathan I think, think Carlton Draught or Tooheys New beers. Good honest beers that the guys from Once we were Warriors would have drank warm from a longneck. OK to drink cold too though.
  • Montieths – good beers, really liked their original and black beer but the summer ale I had was more like a ginger beer (might have to drop them an email about that). The original is an interesting beer, as for the flagship beer it was darker than you would have expected, kind of a brown looking ale.
  • Tui – apparently an IPA. Not a hope in hell that was an IPA.

And now to the breweries. I only visited two, both of which I had not tried the beers. I’d heard good things about Halletau, nothing about Brauhaus Frings.

I’ll start with Brauhaus Frings in Whangarei. Firstly Whangarei is pronounced Fungarei (bloody Maori spellings) and its not the prettiest place in the world, just a basic little town that’s more of a travelling through place to other places on the way further north, beaches, Forest’s etc.

The Lonely Planet gave this place a pretty good write up but I’m guessing brew pubs are not their specialty. It was a sad and tired looking joint that was dead quiet when we dropped in. OK it was a Monday night but this place was dead and looked well past its glory days. Have a look at their website, it sounds like the current owner has worked to turn the place around (he makes it clear that the look of the place isn’t his design) but I think he still has a fair bit of work ahead of him. The guy at the place we were staying told us after we went there that it was a biker bar (when we said we were going in there he just raised his eyebrows and said OK).

On to the beers, nothing amazing here I tried their draft a brown beer, it was fairly flat and I think well past its prime. I also tried the seasonal, a Marzen. It was a bit hoppy for my take on a marzen but still a much better beer. The guy behind the bar told me it was triple hopped. No idea what that means. The guy obviously can make OK beer (and apparently has some experience with one of the big German breweries?), I just think he has a lot conspiring against him with this venue. As someone who would like to own a brewery its a bit of a reality check.

Now on to Halletau, a whole nother world to Frings. A nice place in a nice area with nice food nice staff and what appeared to be nice customers. The setting of this place was kind of like Red Hill Brewery on the Mornington Peninsular, kind of a brewery in a wine area. I heard about this place on the Brewing Network when the head brewer was on with the guy from Epic. The Epic beers are great and I liked the way the the brewer (Steve I think?) spoke about beer so seemed well worth a try. I did get to say a G’day and cheers to the brewer but he was busy talking to some home brewers and I think tasting their beers. My kind of place.
I grabbed a tasting paddle, not really my thing as I like to have a pint to really get to know a beer but as I wouldn’t likely be there for a while I broke my own rule. Thankfully the beer didn’t let me down, all good beers. The paddle contained;

the tasting paddle at Halletau

Hallertau Luxe (Kolsch Beer)  Kolshe tends to be but not really my thing, this didn’t change my mind from this but not not a bad beer.

Hallertau Statesman  (Pale Ale) nice hoppy pale ale, I’m thinking this is mainly Kiwi Hops – perhaps some Nelsin Sauvin? nice beer though. Drinking this beer made me really want to try the IPA and double IPA, unfortunately they went on tap.
Hallertau Copper Tart (Red Ale) this was my least favorite beer of the line up. It just didn’t pop for me.
Hallertau Deception (Schwarzbier) I think this was my favorite of the lineup, a really nice Swartz beer. Smooth and easy drinking, chocolate and coffee. Definitely pint worthy.
Seasonal – Belgian Pale (apparently the recipe is from a home brew comp winner) Didn’t have enough of this beer to get a good handle on it, but there was a bit of a yeast and hop clash happening for my taste.
The other seasonal was a barley wine, kind of an English style, about 9.3% ABV, warming but not hot. Would like to try this one with a bit of age on it but it was good all the same. I think I may have saved the best for last with my bottle of Pinot barrel aged Porter that is currently sitting in my fridge for drinking at some appropriate time. Uncertain when this will be but I’m looking forward to it.
So Halletau gets 9/10, losing a point for not having a t shirt in my size. Great place, go there. Not that I really want a bar attached to a brewery, if I end up with one it should look like this.
So that’s my little bit of NZ beer thoughts. Its Choice Bro.

Cheers D

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