It’s a rainy ol’ redemption Thursday here, so it would seem fitting to try one of the dark ales from last year that left me feeling, well, a little cheated. The Kaimai Porter’s Rye Ale I had then was a ridiculously fizzy cola-like thing that was all bubble, toil and trouble as it spilled itself all over the seat. It was a thin, flavourless concoction that had serious issues. Surely though this is just another case of a bad batch or an errant, astigmatic work experience lad who missed a decimal point somewhere, yes?
Sadly, no. Based on a sample size of two, which is probably statistically insufficient but because life is short that’ll be my lot, I’m sorry to say that in my very inexpert opinion this is a deeply flawed beer. The bottom half looks wonderful, a dark, opaque mahogany that promises depth and body but unfortunately it is topped by a massive, off-white, foamy, rocky beast of a head that despite careful pouring at first tries to escape the glass and then sits there sulking at you like a bored teenager. That’s a sign of things to come because this thing is still ludicrously overcarbonated. Even after an unscheduled forty-five minute break from tasting when the cat dragged in a mouse that proceeded to run amok amongst the boxes under the stairs (thanks a lot, useless cat) and despite many increasingly pointless swirlings it was still unrelentingly fizzy. The aroma is initially decent enough with hints of chocolate and maybe dark fruit in amongst the rye but the flavour reveals something off and vaguely sour as well which makes it tough to enjoy what would probably otherwise be a fine dark and roasty chocolate malt backbone. The effervescence seems to upset any balance that might have been achieved as it gives a false impression of zesty sweetness, and the resulting thin mouthfeel leaves an impression of cheap soda stream. The finish feels short and artificially sweet to me but to be honest, I’m thankful the taste of this one doesn’t stick around too long.
To me a dark ale normally suggests something weighty and broody as musical accompaniment, something with a bit of depth and attitude. This beer on the other hand is almost an insult to that idea with it’s faux-cola fizz and anaemic texture. To properly convey my contempt for this beer I would suggest listening to this for starters, a cover of a song made famous by Iggy Pop but originally nicked from a genuine Aussie legend Johnny O’Keefe. Then this. Then probably this one and to round it off have some of that. I’m sorry to be harsh but this beer has fallen well short of the mark, especially for an alleged dark ale. Yes, it’s 6.5% but in terms of body and flavour it’s a subpar soft drink strutting around in big boy pants.
According to Kaimai Brewery’s website Rye Beer basically disappeared for nearly five hundred years, and has only comparatively recently been reborn. I don’t know how true that is, and I know very little about the style but if it’s as difficult and problematic as it seems to be to produce on the basis of this particular offering I’m yet to be convinced the effort is entirely worthwhile.
Name: Kaimai Porter’s Rye Ale
Style: Rye Beer/Specialty Grain
Made by: Kaimai Brewing co., Mt. Maunganui, New Zealand
Alcohol: 6.5% abv.
Price: $4.69/330ml bottle at Thorndon New World
Verdict: I can’t say if this one is typical of Rye Beers, but if so I’ll be giving them a wide berth. Not actually poisonous, it seems, but it has other problems I can’t be bothered with. 42/100. Edit (13/3): Added back 8 points because despite being awful, I hadn’t realised just how difficult and rare rye beers are. I hope to have a good one of these one day.