|Highest Rated||Hellzapoppin' (85 / 100)
||Average score||70 / 100 (Very Good)|
|Lowest Rated||Sauvin Bomb (59 / 100)
IPA infused with various pink things, to make it turn pink. Hence it's called Pink Drink. Brewed for GABS 2017, and tried at the festival on tap. Yes I'm aware the dates are wrong; I finally found the lost GABS tasting sheets hidden in my locker at work.
Pours an amber colour, fairly cloudy and sedimenty. Creamy-coloured head, webs out to leave a thin crown of bubbles. Cloudy, and amber rather than pink. But pretty good.
Smells citric, with a sweet orange overtone to it. Some cake battery malt and a touch of mango tropical aroma. Pretty decent.
Fruity for the most part with just a thin layer of grain on the front and underlining it all. Not really any distinct fruity characters, mostly just a generic apple/pear kind of character and it develops a weird chalky character on the back, like the fruit esters turn minerally slightly. Decent characters but not really distinctive or overly exciting.
Decent body; slightly thin body so a little pull as it goes back.
Decent, fairly generic IPA in the end. Don't get a great sense of what the pink things really do to this.
59 / 100
Bottle given to me for Christmas by Jez. Tried on my own.
Pours a pale orange-tinged amber, with large generous head produced from - if I may say so - a pretty great pour, but it retains nicely and sinks in that marshmallowy pattern I like so much. Some nice thick clumps of lacing too. Looks pretty great.
Smells hoppy, of course. Big pungent tropical fruit aroma with overripe mango and passionfruit. Touch of lime in there as well as a dusty and spicy character. Almost smoky when you really plunge your nose in but I think it's just the force of the earth and fruit battling each other. Good aroma.
Taste is disappointing. Overly sweet, with a big buttery caramalt flavour all over the front that keeps on until the back and gets quite insipid when it does. Hops emerge late-mid but they don't have much edge to them, which is particularly disappointing from sauvin which has usually the opposite issue - it's overly bitter - for me. Just feel it's all later hopping and the malt, which is light bodied for the style and therefore not very well grounded, ends up being too sweet without enough bittering hops to balance and ground it. Some more early hopping would help, as would the addition of some earthier malt - like some crystal malt or even some rye - just to add that bottom base note.
Not a bad body upfront but kind of empty midway, although smooth and pleasant on the back.
Yeah, I mean I don't expect mind-blowing from this kind of beer any more because I've had a lot of them, but a good bit of balance is the minimum I require so it's fairly disappointing to have this smell so good but taste so unbalanced.
Bottle given to me by Jez for Christmas. Shared on NYE with Chris.
Pours a pale orange colour, cloudy somewhat. Head is off-white, almost yellow, nice and dense with a good cradle of lace left behind. Good retention, maybe to do with my plastic serving container though. Good old plastic. The beer looks good; great even.
Smells dank and fruity. Piney and passionfruit with a nice sweet, sticky character at the back and some good citric tang as well. Fairly standard; nice but standard.
Taste is pleasant. Fairly standard IPA too. Malt upfront, but just subtle and doing the rounds. Then the hops kick in, fairly NZcharacter with tropical fruit notes that then get quite sharp and peppery on the back and linger fairly spicy. Lemony, piney otherwise. Yeah pretty standard IPA and doesn't go quite enough on the nice fruity new world hops to carry it off on the back.
Decent body with a bit of pull that gets quite dry on the back.
Decent IPA, but nothing really special or groundbreaking.
76 / 100
Peach IPA brewed for GABS 2016. Following last year's sensational Partywave, this was an eagerly anticipated second beer of the festival. Discovered while drinking it that it was also Dave Kurth's (Hot Water's) swan song to brewing, which was very sad to learn.
Pours a gold colour, very cloudy almost opaque. Cream-coloured head, large whispy bubbles that doesn't really stick around. Bit meh, no head retention and a bit too cloudy for the style.
Smells good. Huge peach character, with a nice malty base of caramel, honey and some notes of pear and apricot as well. Touch resinous underlying that helps to ground it but also renders it a little sharp.
Peach!! on the palate as well. Caramel grain upfront and then a big juicy fruit note that gets huge and ripe and supple midway, then cleaned up by a good, slightly sharp citrus bitterness, with lemon, passionfruit and a hint of grapefruit. Overall it's quite soft but a good long finish to remind you it's an IPA.
Decent body, bit of texture but not too much.
Pleasant NZ style IPA with great fruit adjuncts. Farewell Kurthdog, the beer world is poorer for not having you any more.
This beer was shortlisted for a retry and ended up my number 13 beer of the festival.
Pours a gold colour, slightly cloudy with white head. Retains alright but not much, bit lacking in density for my liking. Not bad-looking though.
Smells gorgeous. Lovely NZ hop aroma and the added pineapple augments it all. Huge mango character, with pear, apricot, passionfruit and of course pineapple. Fresh and fruity. Smells great.
Taste is all hops from the front to the back, and it gets hugely bitter very early on. Pineapple and passionfruit characters that quickly turn into rindy grapefruit astringency and actually develops some phenolic medicinal character. Needs more malt to balance and just lighten it a bit as it feels like it's taking a layer of skin off.
Decent body, sharpness on the back that feels boozey but might just be some drying hop oils.
Not bad, but really very astringent on the back. Nice tropical notes but they're overwhelmed on the palate. Just not amazing.
85 / 100
Smoked IPA with added chilli brewed for GABS 2016. Enticing prospect, especially given my underappreciated love for Morrison's similar beer at GABS 2015. Tried at the festival in Melbourne on tap.
Pours a champagne colour, fairly cloudy, with lovely beige head, thick foam that sticks around beautifully. Looks great.
Smells massively smokey, and meaty, with a touch of heat, like salami. Some complex spice notes in there as well, some tumeric and fennel around the edges and a distinct hot 'n' spicy character emanating off it. Loads of complexity; smells lovely.
Smoke is there on the palate too by the bagful. Starts quite sweet that allows time for the smoke to blossom out although it doesn't explode like it did on the nose. It lingers nicely though, to complement the big spicy heat that comes from the chillis but is not overwhelming. Some salty characters, touch of clove, and some undergrowth towards the back as well. Lovely and fascinating blend of savoury flavours that somehow manages to come together into an amazing beer palate.
Slight warming alcohol but it's just there as a complement to the big malt base. Nice.
Tastes great, and has some notes in there that just subtly elevate the whole lot. Great beer.
Although this beer was initially rated lower than Shenanigans' Sabotage, upon retrying this beer, it ended up becoming my #1 beer of the festival for 2016. Several full glasses of this later, both during the Sunday session in Melbourne and the Saturday night session in Sydney the following week, I've adjusted my original scores up to reflect what an amazingly good beer this is.
80 / 100
A 'soured' IPA brewed for GABS 2016. Tried there in Melbourne on tap.
Pours a champagne colour, clear with foamy white head. Retains a nice thick crown. Generally looks impressively pale and in line with the sort of style I expect. Nice.
Smells largely of NZ hops, with a big passionfruit character. Some cereal grains leaking through which don't need to. Touch of barnyard and slightly damp lucerne as well from the funky yeasts being used. Not bad at all but could use more cohesion.
Taste is all NZ hops upfront but it grows and grows into a beautifully palatable melange of complex flavours. Passionfruit and tropical notes, then sour citrus with strong lemon and lime that keeps building. Some vinous notes on the back, slightly sour and then crisply clipped off in the end. Really impressively clean after that huge burst of different flavours. Beautifully handled.
Body is insubstantial, as it should be. Nothing exciting texturally, but it suits the flavour.
An amazing drop. Not a whole lot of IPA character sticks around but there's a beautiful tart cleanliness to it. It's really just a testament to Søren's brewing talent, as this is a showcase of a really mature brewer showing an in-depth understanding of all the different processes that go into making a beer.
This beer ended up my number 3 beer of the festival.
Bottle given to me by Jez, drunk alone.
Pours a shiny gold colour, very clear, slow bead. Head is white, frothy and nice sparse bubbling on the top. Lace is webbed and quite nice. Looks fairly nice.
Smells spicy and hoppy. Huge new world character with pineapple, mango and passion. Touch of mildly spiced cake batter on the back as well. All smells very pleasant.
Taste is fruit salad: mango. Passion and pine and maybe a touch of lime. Sweet caramel malt underlying, with a big tropical sweetness standing over it. All very nice but the finish is really lacking; those hops just don't translate to bitterness at all. It's all front and fruit-heavy hops and is lacking balance on the back. Pleasant flavour but disappointing as an IPA.
Foamy upfront, bit of body through the back. Not bad.
Yeah it drinks alright but just needs more oomph on the back, it kind of trails off and lingers sweet.
76 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a rather clear golden colour, with a solid body behind it and swift carbonation. Head is white, forming a ring pocked at the edges with large bubbles. Lacing forms in coarse steaks. Looks decent enough.
Nose is very interesting and quite pleasant. Spicy notes mingle with a solid sharp hop presence giving aromas of eucalyptus and snapped bush twigs. I like it a good deal.
Taste is also good. Light, clean entry on the palate with enough body to create some smoothness in the centre. This is balanced by a sharpness from some solid hops and a clean finish where the spices make a slight indent. It's cleaned up on the back and feels punctuated by the hops.
Feel is sharp, very clean and light.
Overall, this was very good. It's very drinkable end refreshing in the manner of a good clean IPA, but it has some interest to set it apart from the norm. Even despite this I feel this one got a little lost at GABS, but I was certainly a staunch fan.
82 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a very pale golden colour, with firm haze to it. Body is solid, and forms very fine, thin streaks of carbonation. Head is off-white, creating a very fine ring around the glass that leaves mild specks of lace.
Nose is very interesting. Tart. Toasty. Salty. Funky. There's some slightly biting, green vegetative hops in there with the fragrance of green papaya and some underripe passionfruit. It all mingles together in unfamiliar but appropriate ways. I like it.
Lovely mango characters on the front palate, with newer notes of coconut and biting grape. Slightly funky hop characters blend a bit of acidity with the sharpness of something like Nelson Sauvin. Dry, but smooth, nots of fermented peach. Dry finish is dusky and tart with a little astringency. Aftertaste is very nice. Complex, nuanced and balanced.
Feel is light, sharp and very decent.
Overall this is a really nice brew. Solidly made and impressively different. I guess that's Garage Project down to a tee.
77 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a pale golden colour, very cloudy in the body with a bit of weighty heft behind it. Head is white, leaving a pocked, bubbling ring that leaves some few streaks of lace. It looks decent enough.
Nose is really solid. Nice, forward, fruity hop characters give it a lifted sweetness, with undertones of body from the malt—these provide a pleasant richness like orange cake. Very sweet and smooth, but with a brightness from the hops. Lovely.
Taste is light and crisp right from the start, and this continues throughout the palate. This is complemented though by sweeter flavours—smooth, stewed orange and a good neutral body and sweetness from the malt. Back is quite light, but that's not bad, it means it finished very bright and very clean. Lingering mild malt and fine carbonation punctuate the ending.
Feel is light but decent, and aids the drinkability.
Overall, this is a really drinkable IPA—extremely solid stuff, and for a "standard" style of beer like this to so stand out at a festival like GABS, it has to be. I loved it.
77 / 100
Pours a straw colour, very cloudy to the point of sedimenty. White webbed head, retaining OK. Quite pale. Not terrible.
Smells wonderful. Honey touch to the malt upfront that bleeds into big NZ hop character - passionfruit, pineapple, peach and pear. Tangy, delicious and balanced. One of the best aromas at GABS.
Taste is full of NZ hops as well with a good belt of American resin as well. Nice malt touch upfront, not a lot of character but enough to lead into the big hop complexities all over the back - pear, peach and passionfruit dominate with a big lemon citric character as well. Really very bitter and pithy but wonderfully padded and balanced. Just like an IPA should taste.
Body is thin, has a fair hop pull on the back. Not bad.
Excellent New World IPA. Big hop notes, fruity and complex.
I was a little low on this at the time but upon retrying I ranked it as my #5 beer of the festival. Upon retrying a full glass of it and other beers ahead of it the following weekend in Sydney, I revised this to be my #2 beer of the festival. Nothing idiosyncratic but a fantastic IPA.
69 / 100
Gold colour, fair cloud to it. Cream-coloured head, foamy with a decent crown retaining. Not bad.
Brett funk on the nose and loads of fruit. Barnyard blending with passionfruit, pineapple and mango. Grapefruit, green apple and orange as well and then some awesome funk on the back. Smells great.
Taste is fairly tropical. Coconut upfront that descends into tropical fruit late-mid - notes of orange and pear mostly with a touch of passionfruit. Quite short before funky finish, light barnyard but mostly phenolic with a fair whack of bitterness which I don't love. Not bad but disappointing after that aroma.
Body is a bit thin which allows alcohol to emerge. Still, holds together well.
I wanted more; there's lots of muddled notes here and it doesn't quite reach its full complex potential.
80 / 100
Pours a golden colour, touch of cloud with white sparsely webbed head. Looks OK; fairly standard.
Smells fruity from the hops predominantly, with passionfruit, peach, orange and apple making an appearance. Malt has a slight nutty edge which merges wonderfully into a light touch of native earthy herb. Lovely.
Taste is similarly wonderful: Citric takes the first note with lemon/orange characters blending with a touch of stonefruit - peach, mostly, then bitterness takes hold with a lovely blend of eucalypt, pepper and just hop bitterness. Bitter, herbal, pleasant. Damn that's nice.
Decent body with a touch of carbonation, and a slight booze warmth that isn't too much.
Really nice drop. Great balance between hops and herbs.
This was an honourable mention of the festival for me.
Bottle given to me by Jez, shared with Andrew I think?
Pours a gold colour, with a bit of haze. Head is white, just a touch of foam. Lace is OK. Looks quite nice.
Smells a bit brassy. Touch of fresh pine and fruit, but some mild oxidation. Yeah a bit old maybe but still smells OK. Would love to have this fresh.
Taste is a bit oxidised as well. Dark fruit, metallic, bitter and slightly herbal spice. Touch of lemon, a bit insipid though like detergent. Again this was probably a nice pleasant fresh drop but it's just a bit old.
Decent body, goes down easily, fluid.
Feel like I'd love this fresh. There's a really tasty beer inside here. And it's refreshing and crisp along with being flavoursome.
71 / 100
Pours IPA colour. Orangey shimmery amber, fairly brown overall. Head is foamy and dense with lovely speckles. Sinks a little quickly but looked sensational while it was there.
Smells piquant and a little spicy, maybe a touch of smoke as well. Peppery, some light fruit salad notes and a great malt base. Solid. Smells intriguing and pleasant.
Taste is tangy, citric with notes of green apple and confectionery; maybe sweet fruit juice and fruit salad. Develops astringent bitterness midway, loads of peppery character that gets really very bitter and spicy on the back, kind of a tobacco ash character. I like it a lot for the most part, but that back is a bit too high alpha and has no residual character to clean it up. Might be a good hop in pure bittering form with something else on the blend, but on its own it just leaves a very bitter taste. Too spicy.
Decent texture. Fluid, fair amount of body and fair liveliness from hops and carbonation. Nicely padded.
Am I rating the hop or the beer, really. I wouldn't rate this hop as a single hop use, but then I wouldn't rate citra or simcoe either, so go figure. The beer is nicely put together and well crafted to showcase the hop.
59 / 100
On tap at Cammeray during the Hottest 100 Beers dinner.
Pours a pale golden colour, slightly cloudy. Head retention is nice, white, good density. Nice lacing and good revival with a swill.
Smells caramelly, malty with a touch of butter. Fair hop character: citrus, passion and banana. Mostly malty, slightly nutty. Could use more hop forward aroma.
Taste is biscuity upfront, fairly dry malty. Develops citric notes midway with some peach, apple, touch of citrus on the back but fairly subdued. Finishes with a fair bitterness, dry with some more biscuity flavour. Also dry, dank hops. Not bad, but not hugely hoppy or brilliantly complex.
Fair bit of body, fair carbonation texture to it. Quite thin on the back.
Not bad, but I'm drinking this at this moment because it was voted the #8 beer in the land and it's not worthy of that mantle at all. Decent but nothing special and in fact lacking in key places.
330ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a very clear, light golden colour, light in the body, with a fine but thick head of white that leaves some mild rings of lace as it goes down. It's lacking carbonation to some extent, but that may affect it in no other way than aesthetically. Otherwise, it looks good.
Nose is quite pleasantly constructed. Sharp, vinous Nelson Sauvin comes through with a little pithy green fruit character. This is, however, matched with a slightly bready, almost toasty grain character that seems to weigh down the aroma somewhat. Still, the hops sing true enough, giving it a pleasant muted fragrance. I like it.
The palate is also ostensibly pretty good, with just a couple of drawbacks. There's a lovely lightness and crispness to the body, and again those slightly vinous underripe grape tones provide a pleasant bite. The malt is again a little too forward though, providing a touch of graininess through the centre which develops into a slightly buttery tone on the back. This means the finish is a lot sweeter than it should be, even though the hops do provide a straining note of bitterness at the conclusion.
Overall, it has all the right characters to be a really nice NZ Pilsner, but there are just a couple of things that make me tilt my head a little quizzically, and not enjoy it quite as much as I should. This a few small tweaks, this could be a really great example of the style.
62 / 100
440ml can purchased from the brewery in Wellington.
Pours a deep amber colour, certainly richer, darker and thicker than the Hop Trial #1. Head is more fine and thick as well, forming a firm cap of off-white that leaves nice stalactite streaks down the glass. Body has some weight to it, forming lots of fine pillars of carbonation when tilted. Looks good.
Nose is most certainly not as good as #1. Here, there's a pellety dankness that gives a very earthy, vegetative quality, but little in the way of true aromatics or brightness. It's not unpleasant on the whole, but it's a bit more like cabbage than the fragrant brilliance we got from the first batch. This is most certainly a very different hop variety.
Taste is also really rather strange. Here, there's a pronounced sweetness from the malt on the front, giving an almost milky or custardy character for the hops to work against. They to leaven it somewhat, however, giving an organic, herbal or spicy character that cuts against the sweetness to give a character like gingerbread. The finish is fairly dark, with little aromatics, but a fairly strong build up of resinous bitterness on the back. Feel is thick and a little flat. Not bad overall though.
It's certainly not a bad beer. But neither is this beer, nor the hop that created it, the equal of #1. This may be useful in creating that rather dark bitterness that comes through on the back, but as an aromatic or flavoursome hop variety this most certainly gets my thumbs down.
80 / 100
440ml can purchased and consumed at Hashigo Zake in Wellington.
Pours a nice pale straw colour, cloudy, but firm in the body. Head is slightly frothy, forming a somewhat loose cap of white. Body is fairly light and fluid, but the carbonation forms fine streams. Looks pretty good.
Nose is lovely. Big, aromatic and definitely Kiwi in character. I think it's quite similar to Nelson Sauvin: with that astringency people refer to as catpee, but which I think is bright and sharp and green. It does, however, have an almost ammonia note, which gives it a lift and vector of intensity. Milder notes of musk sticks and celery come through as well. As far as I'm concerned, it's a winner in terms of aroma.
Taste is very similar. There's a wonderful crispness to the beer, suggesting a pilsner-style lightness to the body, backed by a pronounced bitterness from the hops. There is a slight funky astringency, and an organic vegetative quality to the hop flavour, mingles with some grapefruit and citrus notes. Body is beautifully balanced to allow the hops to come through. If nothing else, it's beautifully made in a way that allows you to understand the hops.
Feel is smooth, but certainly with a bit of weight to it, despite the lightness of the flavour on the back.
Overall, this is a really genuinely good beer in its own right, quite apart from being a truly excellent showcase for a new hop variety. As far as the hop goes, I find it a very nice mingling of the dankness of Nelson Sauvin, with the direct crispness of Riwaka. I love that it's so unapologetically New Zealand.