Well, since I mentioned Garage Project in today’s earlier rant about the Chatoe Rogue, I might as well write a bit more about Aro Valley’s finest. Garage Project have always been notable for the strength and variety of their artwork, across their tap badges, bottles and cans.
Cans. I love beer in cans. I wish there was more good beer in cans. Cans are lightweight, cans are convenient for storage and transport, and cans do far more to protect the flavour of the beer within than any transparent glass bottle could ever hope to do. I’ve had twelve month old IPAs from a can that, when poured into the glass, revealed themselves to be almost as hoppy and bright as they were when fresh.
But there’s a reason more brewers don’t sell beer in cans – because they don’t sell. When punters think of beers in cans, they think dozens of Tui or DB Draught. They think in terms of quantity, not quality. And when you’re faced with a single 335ml can being sold for almost the price of a cheap six-pack of fizzy yellow lager, the suspicion that you’re being brutally overcharged probably looms large in some purchaser’s minds.
Which means the beers don’t sell. I saw cans of Maui’s gorgeous CoCoNut Porter sitting unloved and unsold on Thorndon New World’s shelves for nearly a year, despite my best efforts to drink their stock. Eventually they were discounted to be moved on, and while that was great for me to get a bargain, that beer going unsold means the supermarket’s never stocked it again. And who can blame them – they’re there to make money, too.
But more and more local brewers are canning their beers, and Garage Project’s right there leading this trend. As a brewery and a brand they’re not selling themselves to “Joe Sixpack”. From their Aro Valley location, adventurous artwork, frequent appearances on tap at Wellington’s hippest bars, and their beards, they’re going for a different market. People look for good beer, interesting beer, challenging beer.
Which brings me to this, Garage Project’s little French-style farmhouse saison, ‘Mon P’tit Chou.’ Just look at it; the pretty white can, the gorgeously cute artwork, the pretty font. It’s a nice can to look at. You want to keep it nearby while you drink the beer within.
And what a nice little name for a beer. A French term of endearment, meaning “my little cabbage”. The whole package, the colours, the soft artwork, everything about this beer just says “this beer is nice.”
I’d normally never recommend drinking from a can directly, but I think you can make an exception here. Sitting on a lawn on a warm afternoon (even better if it’s the lawn outside Rogue & Vagabond), you want to drink this sprightly little beer right from the tin, just like I was doing for this photo.
But here’s the catch – I don’t really think all that much of the beer within the can! For something described as a farmhouse saison, I don’t get any of the farmhouse funk or tart sourness I’d expect to taste. If I was to describe this beer in a word, it’d be “sprightly.” It’s light on its feet, but there’s not a lot going on beyond the first fizzy orange peel notes on the nose. It’s not very dry, the aftertaste doesn’t really do anything apart from fade quickly.
Indeed, after finishing the glass I struggle to even remember what this beer tasted like.
The thing is, none of that really matters. Because sometimes a light, sprightly beer is the beer you want to drink. And when it’s coming from such a gorgeous package you can’t but help to enjoy every sip.
Is that superficial of me? So be it. As I wrote in that earlier post, beer’s a very subjective thing.