Choose one – but don’t choose the Chosen One

It would have been difficult to miss the Independent Liquor’s ‘Chosen One’ campaign. Large newspaper ads and a heavily promoted website invite beer drinkers to register as one of 999 lucky beer fans who get to choose Independent’s new craft lager.

Just for the record, I didn’t register. The sample pack arrived unsolicited, with a covering letter telling me “we have for you a Boundary Road Brewery tasting pack so you can pass judgement on our beers and let us know the brew you think should go on sale as The Chosen One.”

Some beer fans have been cynical about the campaign, but, as I wrote when I received the sample, any exercise that gets people thinking about beers, and acknowledges drinkers can discriminate between them, is OK with me.

There’s no point in simply ranking the three beers against each other – I wanted to know how they rated against other beers of the same style. So I organised a blind tasting with fellow beer blogger Phil Cook and included three other lagers in the tasting.

Our six test beers included other Boundary Road Brewery products and one craft lager:
Boundary Road Chosen One batch A
Boundary Road Chosen One batch B
Boundary Road Chosen One batch C
Boundary Road NZ Pure Lager
Boundary Road Ranfurly Frontier Lager
Mussel Inn Golden Goose Lager

One beer was easily our preferred lager and was far above the others. All other five beers showed serious flaws. The flaws include oxidation, diacetyl and acetylaldehyde, and it was difficult to distinguish any real preference between these five.

Our blind rankings were:
1st Mussel Inn Golden Goose Lager
Slight haze; dry, grassy aroma; balance of malt and hops with malt sweetness in aftertaste; rich mouthfeel for a lager. A clear preference in this group.

2nd Boundary Road NZ Pure Lager
Clear appearance with white head; malty nose with hint of diacetyl; toasty malt tending towards NZ Draught flavours, some acetlyaldehyde; thin mouthfeel.

3rd Boundary Road Chosen One batch B
Clear, white head with good retention; some sulphur on nose; flavour of sugary sweetness overlying acetlyaldehyde.

4th Boundary Road Chosen One batch A
Clear, while head; solventy, vegetal aroma; flavour thin and metallic; watery mouthfeel with coarse carbonation.

5th Boundary Road Chosen One batch C
Clear, white head; Unpleasant fumy, sulphurous aroma; flavour oxidised, thin, sour.

6th Boundary Road Ranfurly Frontier Lager
Golden yellow, white head; aroma of sulphur and damp newsprint; flavour thin and sour with low carbonation.

So there it is – of the three Chosen One samples, batch B was our preference. But that beer rated third out of six, and was beaten by Independent Liquor’s own NZ Pure Lager. None of the Chosen One samples was much good and I believe you will be able to get better value for your money when the chosen beer is launched in August.

Independent Liquor refers to The Chosen One campaign as “launching our new craft range”. It will be disappointing if beer buyers taste any of The Chosen One products I tasted and think they are representative of craft beer. The samples I was given showed fundamental flaws of the kind I experience when judging home brews.

Anyone who pays good money for The Chosen One will come away thinking craft beer is nasty stuff that gives a mean hangover, and the overall craft industry could suffer from this false impression.
©Martin Craig June 2011
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6 Responses to “Choose one – but don’t choose the Chosen One”

  1. Agree that B was the best of the three. Also didn’t get chosen, but a friend did so tasted them together. Be curious to see how it all goes!

    Remember the mantra… Needs… More… Hops… :)


  2. Agree that B was the best of the three. Didn’t get chosen, but tried a friends. Interesting to see how the whole thing pans out… An interesting marketing exercise for them.

    Need to remember the mantra though… Needs… More… Hops… :)


  3. The strangest part, really, was that the three were so incredibly samey — we were distinguishing them by their varying kinds of faultiness, rather than on anything-much to do with flavour.

    They didn’t feel like a brewery trying three different things, to see what people preferred. It almost felt more like a Brewer Audition, than a beer one; like the exact-same recipe had been attempted by three different people, with differing levels of ability.

    Given then ‘pitch’, you’d have hoped that one might be middling, one sweeter, one drier, at least. If they were, it wasn’t by much, and the differences were pretty-much buried under a bunch of distracting problems.


    • Ben Shaw, Boundary Road Brewery Marketing Manager says …
      “We want to hear from true Kiwi beer lovers to let us know how they want The Chosen One to taste. It could be they prefer their hops mild, their malt notes medium or they are after a beer to really wow the senses; however they like their brew to be crafted, we want them to decide.”

      Martin Craig says…yeah, well, nah. Ben, mate, if you aren’t taking the piss and you really do want to know if they prefer their hops mild, their malt notes medium or they are after a beer to really wow the senses, then give us brews we can tell apart in the first place.

      As for wowing my senses, sleep easy. You did wow my senses, just not in a good way. You did it with the kind of flaws that should not be present in commercial beer.

      You did ask.


  4. Good call, Phil.

    If anything, I found B to have slightly more hop presence, even if it was minimal. Saying that though, I had imbibed wine, Sapporo and Sake that night, it was late and I was delicately inebriated. Was I imagining the hoppy phantom?

    Some definite faults though…


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