Review #17 – Holsten Pils

From the label: “Holsten Pils gets its unique and distinctive taste because more of the natural sugars turn to alcohol during our enhanced fermentation process. This also makes it lower in carbohydrates than some other leading lagers.”

Name: Holsten Pils

Style: German Pilsner

By: Holsten-Brauerei AG (Carlsberg)

Origin: Hamburg, Germany

Alcohol: 5% abv

Price: $3.20/500ml can

From: Pak n Save


Perhaps by this point I should just call it tight-arse Wednesday and be done with it.

This one is better than expected but I really wasn’t expecting much. Continue reading

Review #16 – Boysenbeery

It’s different, but could it have been more?


Name: Boysenbeery

Style: Fruit beer

By: Invercargill Brewery

Abv: 6.5%

Price: $6.75/330ml bottle (from Thorndon New World)



Some of the very finest beers in New Zealand come out of Invercargill. Whether it’s contract brewing for Yeastie Boys, Golden Ticket or Mussel Inn (yes, I mean the iconic Captain Cooker) or their own creations which include – but are not limited to – the Pitch Black Stout, the Men in Skirts Scottish Ale or, my personal favourite, the mighty Smokin’ Bishop, a smoked bock that tastes like bacon, square foot for square foot this place has a better ‘hit’ rate than pretty much anywhere. Given how far New Zealand punches above it’s weight in terms of craft beer – and I’d argue NZ might have the edge over Australia at the moment which is all that really matters (go on, tell me I’m wrong) – Emersons is great and all, and Imma let you finish but Invercargill Brewery is one of the best anywhere. So I figure I’m entitled to expect something special from the Boysenbeery. Continue reading

Review #15 – Hud-a-wa’

Hud-a-wa Strong (English Strong Bitter, 6.8%). Brewed at Invercargill Brewery for Yeastie Boys (Wellington, New Zealand). $5.79/330ml bottle.

I’m convinced one of these days Yeastie Boys is going to come up with the world’s greatest beer. The Rex Attitude shows the extremes to which these guys are willing to experiment and yes, it’s virtually undrinkable as everyone knows by now but it is utterly unique. I love a brewery that doesn’t care for trends towards insane hoppiness or ridiculous strength and is prepared to risk toxicity in order to create beers that are memorable. And so, I always try a new Yeastie Boys brew in a spirit of adventure; let the chips fall where they may. I was only mildly disappointed then when the Hud-a-wa turned out to be foul, stenchy and noxious, though as I channelled the spirit of Shackleton and chewed my way through the pint I began to realise that even if it was my lot to suffer in silence – for such is the price of bold adventure – I swore there would be no way in hell I would fall for the same trick twice. But this is redemption Thursday; that evening in the Bru Haus was last year and as memories fade, forgiveness grows in the hearts of those who have been wronged. For the first time since then I return to the Hud-a-wa to see if it still has the power to buckle knees and turn stomachs. Continue reading

Review #14 – Cucapá Obscura

Cucapá Obscura (American Brown Ale, 4.8%). Cervecería Cucapá (Mexicali, Mexico). $10/6 x 355ml bottle.

Hecho en Mexico. You could do worse.

Here we go again with another Wednesday edition of tight-arse Tuesday. It’s not all down to sheer laziness though. Part of it is because of the dread I felt yesterday at the thought of going down to pick out another undrinkable can of bland and possibly toxic Europiss, the shame at taking it up to the counter and the absurdity of paying for the privilege of doing so. So, after procrastinating for far too long I find myself in Thorndon New World looking sadly at the shelves of seemingly interchangeable cans of desperate self-loathing but on the point of giving up entirely I wander down the other end and find a well-priced six pack of this Mexican beer which is not only not European but is not a pale lager. I feel like I’m saved. Continue reading

Review #13 – Parrotdog Bitterbitch

Parrotdog Bitterbitch (IPA, 6.3%). Brewed at Mike’s Organic Brewery (Taranaki) for Parrotdog Brewing (Wellington, New Zealand). $6/330ml bottle.

From the label: “An aggressively New Zealand-hopped aroma gives way to a deep, rich English malt base and a huge, lingering English-hopped bitterness to finish.” Well yep, pretty much.

When I first tried this it was wasted on me. I admit it. It was still pre-Beervana, and my system was still detoxing from all the Speights and couch smoke it had acquired during my time down south. To the great disappointment of my Wellington friends I think my reaction was a listless meh. So after all this time (all six months or so of it) does this beer – the very first produced by Parrotdog but one that attained something like semi-mythical status when it ran dry after just 96 minutes on the taps at Hashigo Zake and then went on to grab the people’s choice award at Beervana – does it, can it, stand up to the hype? Continue reading

Review #12 – Green Man Whiskey Bock

Green Man Whiskey Bock (Doppelbock, 9% abv). Green Man Brewery, (Dunedin, New Zealand). $8.79/330ml.

It’s definitely worth taking a punt on the 2012 vintage if you can’t find one of these. Which, by now, you almost certainly can’t.

Cards on the table here, I actually tried this one some time ago and…well I can’t claim the dog ate my notes or anything but for some reason I didn’t get around to writing it up which is a shame because this one is actually pretty good. Continue reading

Review #11 – Brewdog Hardcore

Hardcore IPA (Imperial/Double IPA, 9.2% abv) by BrewDog (Fraserburgh, Scotland). $8.50/330ml bottle.

From the label: “4 Hop Cones willingly sacrificed themselves in fiery cauldron (sic) that is our brew kettle to ensure your mouth is left feeling punished and puckering for more.” They’re half right.

A second round of redemption Thursday and this time around it’s the Brewdog Hardcore, a beer I’d had during last year’s world footy cup or whatever it was, apparently New Zealand won it and there was much rejoicing. At the time I described in my notes as “f…ing awful. Too hoppy, bitter, fruity and stenchy” but of course I hadn’t really given it a fair chance. It was served to me in a plastic cup – I believe I have elsewhere expressed my opinion of such an abominable act – and from memory I was coming off a row of porters and stouts so it was never going to sit well. And so, now, swollen with magnanimity in the comfort of my own home, I am willing to give it another try. Continue reading

Review #10 – Melchers Dutch

Melchers Dutch Gold Lager, aka Melchers Rembrandt Masterpiece (Pale Lager, 5% abv). InBev (Leuven, Belgium). $2.49/500ml can.

Canned meh. Better than it sounds.

After a week long Southern sojourn I find myself back in Wellington again on tight-arse Tuesday*, and it’s with a feeling of dread I pick out another can of Dutch pale lager. The last one was frankly awful, and it’s not until I get this home that I discover to my horror that this is in fact brewed by the same company. Upon further investigation though there are signs of encouragement. Continue reading

Review #9 -Sprig & Fern Tasman Lager

Tasman Lager (Strong Lager, 6.5%). Sprig & Fern, Nelson, New Zealand. $11/1.3 litre rigger.

The good stuff.

Tight-arse Tuesday round two, and I’m attacking the Sprig & Fern Tasman Lager which has been looking out at me from the shelves at Pak’n’Save for a while now. $11 for a 1.3 litre plastic rigger doesn’t exactly scream quality, but it is undeniably good value – assuming it’s drinkable. I can try and convince myself that decent beer need not come in a bottle or (god forbid) a can. But something’s not right. I read that Sprig & Fern are actually in the process of setting up a tavern on Tinakori road, within theoretical walking distance of my house, to sell their ‘award-winning’ range of craft beers. It opens in late February or early March, and while it’s their first North of the strait they have five in the Nelson area. I read on and these awards actually mean something. I mean, I’m sure even the Atlas from last week won an award somewhere, no doubt at some backwoods Albanian festival no reputable brewer could be bothered entering anything into but I don’t think that’s what’s happening here. These people might actually know what they’re doing. Then I find some reviews and they are utterly glowing. I’m left confused and intrigued. It’s cheap, so what’s the catch again? Continue reading

Review #8 – Rogers’ Beer

Rogers’ Beer (Amber Ale (?), 3.8%). Little Creatures, Fremantle, Western Australia. $4.20/330ml bottle.

Full once, full flavour with lower alcohol isn’t just an empty slogan.

For the pedants, this beer was named for two people called Roger and the apostrophe is indeed correctly placed. Also, no particular style is specified on the label or the website but I’m pretty sure it can’t be called a pale ale as some would have it. It is what it is, and comes with a high reputation. Continue reading