A few new brews

Over the past few weeks I’ve tried a few new brews, and revisited a couple of older favourites in new forms.

Ranfurly generously sent me two dozen of its rebranded lagers and pale ale. Ranfurly is made in Auckland by Boundary Road Brewery and has sat firmly on the “value-based-proposition” end of the market. The rebranding is clearly aimed at building profit margins.

I have repeatedly asked Ranfurly’s Auckland-based PR spokeswoman for brewer’s notes, but no good, I’ll have to write my own.

Ranfurly Frontier Lager is sweet and probably best-avoided because you can get more flavour for your money, even at $1.50/330ml bottle. Ranfurly Station Pale Ale gives a pleasant hiss as you open the twist-top. It pours a bright, coppery brown, with a clean white head that lasts several seconds. The vigorous carbonation contributes strongly to the flavour, at least as much as the malt and hops. Unlike many craft beers I have tried, Ranfurly Station Pale Ale can be consumed straight from the bottle with no loss of flavour.

Points deducted for mislabelling a larger lager as an ale, but half a point added for the Darwinist marketing slogan ‘Naturally Selected’. Give some to creationist friends for Christmas, and then help their beer tastes evolve over the year.

Mata Brown Boy is made by brewers who care about their product. Aotearoa Breweries’ roving ambassador Jaysen Magan travels the North Island visiting stockists, and he told me cafes are proving to be a good market for this small, Kawarau-based brewer.

Mata Brown-Boy Amber Ale is unashamedly English in its styling – reddish-brown, moderate carbonation, and malt-driven, 5% ABV. Mata says it has a unique New Zealand contribution from horopito, which has peppery flavours. I didn’t notice the horopito, which is no bad thing, because I found Brown Boy a good, real-ale style beer and one for the English beer fans.

Rumour has it the Mata Brown-Boy is the very beer Paul Henry has chosen to drown his sorrows, because it comes from real Kiwi brewers with a proper New Zealand name like Aotearoa.

Aotearoa’s Mata Black Bru (5% ABV) calls itself an ‘Irish-style stout’ and it is noticeably dry and bitter in its finish. I enjoyed this one and thought the finish helped it stand out from the pack of smoother stouts I am used to. Pours impressively thick and dark with a dark tan head. I preferred this one over Brown-Boy and think it has potential as a food match. I tried it with jerk chicken and the dry finish went well with the jerk spices. Jaysen is a bit of a gourmet himself – have you tried this one with some Bay of Plenty oysters, Jaysen?

Sunshine Brewery’s Black Magic is a stout I have enjoyed over the years. Brewer Geoff Logan has aged a batch for a year and brought it out at Beervana back in August. The aging has brought out rich dark chocolate and black plum flavours – Richard Emerson says it tastes of Black Forest torte. At just 5% ABV this is low alcohol for an aged beer, so if you have some, try it soon. The aged Black Magic wasn’t released commercially, but try your luck at the brewery, and compare it to the fresh product. Let us know if you get the chance.

Three Boys Golden Ale is another old mate. Last summer it was my top beer, the one I would have whenever I found it. It has returned this spring and I have tried it off hand pumps at Hashigo Zake and The Malthouse. In both cases, I was disappointed with the hand-pump version. It has some powerful and unpleasant sweaty aromas that I certainly hadn’t noted in the carbonated version.

I asked Three Boys Brewery about this. They report that the carbonated version tastes as good as ever, which is good news because I want some, and some summer weather too. I think this is a case of a mismatch between the beer and the hand pump, and shows that some beers are best off the tap.

Next week – why it is legal to drive drunk in New Zealand.

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©Martin Craig. Reproduction with permission only.


2 Responses to “A few new brews”

  1. Points deducted for misspelling lager!

    Looking forward to some Three Boys Golden Ale myself, man that was so good earlier this year. I didn’t get to try it out on the hand pump but sounds like I didn’t miss out.


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