I mean, what makes up a best beer? A favourite beer? A loved beer? Not for drinkers “generally”, but for each and every one of us. If we had to choose our five desert island beers, what would we choose? And why would we choose them?
Would we choose rare hard-to-find beers, a beer that maybe we’d tried once and were blown away by? But, forced to drink that beer as one of the few left to us until our dying days, would we get sick of it?
Do we choose a full-flavoured, interesting beer that we’ve drunk quite a few of, that we know and love?
And, if I were doing my “five-beers-to-last-the-end-of-my-life” list, I’d probably make up my list with four of the five beers being either rare or interesting or unusual.
But I’d also choose Tuatara’s APA – the Aotearoa Pale Ale version, full of New Zealand grown hops such as Nelson Sauvin, NZ Cascade and Wai-iti. Because, amongst all the tea beers, the hop monsters, the smoked ales, the rich barrel-aged porters I love a good solid, flavourful drinking beer. Like this.
Something I love – and I mean, really love – about the Tuatara APA is its ubiquity. At least down this end of New Zealand’s North Island, you can find the Tuatara APA in either bottles or on tap in quite a number of bars and restaurants. Maybe, even a majority of them (but, admittedly, I don’t tend to visit an entirely representative sample of bars etc, being a beer geek). But, more often I’ve not, over the last two years or so I’ve found that most bars and restaurants I’ve visited have stocked this beer; even bars owned / contracted to the big two.
Because it’s damn good, perhaps?
There’s this big old waft of pine and citrus from the top, and in the mouth it is full, sticky, with grapefruit hops and lip-smacking sticky toffee. It lingers with a big long freshly citrus aftertaste, and that delicious sandpaper-like rasp that a good hoppy beer gives once it’s gone down the throat. That sensation that just makes you want another sip.
But it’s not overpowering, not too fist-full-of-hop punchy or sticky-sweet aftertaste. It’s a hoppy beer – a very hoppy beer – but it manages to be acceptable to those who love the hop and those who prefer to taste their breakfast the next morning.
But, I’m sure the quality of this NZ-hopped, American-style pale ale doesn’t explain why it has become so prevalent. That’s surely down to the way that “craft” has become “mainstream” and how Tuatara have managed to insert themselves into the public awareness as a local craft brewer through promotion and good sales work. Which means bars (including contracted bars) and restaurant owners who, deciding to surrender to a bit of this “craft beer market” know of, have heard of, have seen (and, perhaps, drunk and enjoyed) this beer, with its striking blue, red and white tap / label art. (And, perhaps, with less stupid sexism like another “wants to be large” competitor. Ahem.)
And, I’m sure calling it an Aotearoa Pale Ale hasn’t hurt, either!
And we all who like nice beer get the upside; getting to have this excellent beer with food, with mates, all over the shop. And I’m grateful for it.
It’s also available in six packs at supermarkets and local bottle stores, which is something else I just love to see. Because then I can take a box home and, when the autumn weather allows it, pull some out, put them in the fridge for a bit, then go sit out on the deck with a book, some music, and some nice beer.
Which is really what it’s all about, isn’t it? Nice beer; when and where you want it? I’m all in favour of the rare, the unusual, the challenging; but more often than not I just want a nice beer, at a time when I want a beer.
And with their Aotearoa Pale Ale, Tuatara nicely fill that niche.