Green Man Whiskey Bock (Doppelbock, 9% abv). Green Man Brewery, (Dunedin, New Zealand). $8.79/330ml.
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.
There’s lots of reasons to like Green Man. Proudly 100% organic and attempting to be a sustainable brewery, they seem to suffer to some extent by operating in the same town as Emerson’s. They were also the ones that bore the brunt of DB’s squalid little campaign to trademark the name ‘Radler’. It’s worth checking out Green Man’s (ahem) ‘Cyclist’ beer with it’s surly and contemptuous relabelling effort (I’ll try and find a pic but it’s not on google images and the Green Man website is, strangely, off-line [11 Mar. Update – here ya go] [2nd update – the label I’d meant is below. I nicked it so sshh]). It was rather less funny when I purchased a Boundary Road Lawn Ranger under the impression that it was a proper grown-up drink but it turned out to be an over-strength shandy, ironically enough mimicking the weak and watery Monteiths effort from DB that started the whole thing. Oh, it was on then. Any thoughts I had that I might in time lift my own personal boycott of DB products were shelved for good. But I digress…
I’d had the Green Man Tequila Beer last year and, though quite good, was disappointingly unlike tequila in any way. Not so with their Whiskey Bock, the most prominent characteristic of which is a smooth whiskey finish. It pours a dark amber with reasonable clarity (apologies for the misleading photo – it’s much lighter than it appears there). As with the Tequila Beer though the head is thin and disappears very quickly, and there’s only a slight malty aroma that was less roasty than I had expected. According to my notes there’s a surprisingly high carbonation yet (somehow) a smooth, viscous, almost buttery mouthfeel to it and a sweet, woody, caramel malt flavour with a noticeable whiskey edge, perhaps a very, very slight trace of honey and not a lot in the way of hop character. As far as the expected alcohol kick it seems to get a little bitey towards the bottom of the glass. It’s worth noting though that, despite what others have claimed this is not the strongest organic beer in NZ (Mike’s Whiskey Porter for one is stronger; there may well be others) and the effect isn’t unpleasant; it doesn’t overwhelm the overall flavour of the beer. In other words they haven’t just made it as strong as they could for the hell of it. It’s not an all-nighter but judging by the price alone it isn’t meant to be. As a one-off though it’s a real good ‘un, possibly worth cellaring if you have the patience for that sort of thing.
As far as what to listen to when drinking this, I don’t know about anyone else but when I think whiskey, I think Tom Waits. Trying to nail down which Tom Waits has been a pleasant little three hour diversion that has thrown up some interesting curveballs. How did I miss this the first time around? I’m also glad I stumbled on some great Tom Waits covers by Alison Krauss and QOTSA among others. Mind you, let this one serve as a warning against carelessly playing six degrees of separation on youtube. In the end, I’m thinking Rain Dogs. The later stuff might be a bit out there to go with something as smooth and sweet as this but the earlier stuff lacks the growl and bite he has from around this time on.
I’ll have to come back to this one in time. Perhaps the dog did eat some crucial bits, I can’t quite recall how it managed to be fizzy and buttery at the same time. In any case it will be well worth revisiting when the 2012 version comes out. You know, for research purposes.
Verdict: Only realistic as a very occasional treat but a high quality beer with a definite whiskey presence. Smooth and classy. 70/100.