Baylands Brewery ‘Woodrow’s Veto

Baylands Brewery Woodrow's VetoI’m a bit prone to the SADs during the winter months. As such, I always try to make the most of any fine weather we get down here in Wellington during these cold, dark, wet days; getting out to walk or run as often as the weather allows; enjoying the sun as much as possible between work and the grey overcast skies.

So, it was great two Sundays ago when the sun came out and a burst of unseasonably warm June weather came over the city. After spending some time getting the laundry out on the line and basking in the sun as it came into the house I then headed out for a run around the hilly streets of Kingston.

Well, I was intending to have a run. However, I’d just overcome a bit of a head cold, and when I turned around into the uphill part of the circuit my lungs let me go about fifty metres before giving me a stern “oi, fuckhead, what are you doing? We’re not recovered yet, ease back a bit, pal!” So, instead, I walked home uphill instead, swiftly as I could, getting the blood flowing, enjoying the sun on my neck.

Back at the house, I caught the last rays of the warm sunshine out on my deck with a ‘Woodrow Veto’ IPA from Newland’s Finest, Bayland’s Brewery. And it was a perfect beer for the occasion, a little burst of summer, bright golden with a big fresh hop aroma wafting upwards as it poured from the very attractive can into the glass.

I’ve mentioned before how much I love canned beer.   And, as I said back then, I love cans for not just their convenience and lack of weight, but because I think they protect the flavour of beer better than even the darkest of dark glass bottles could hope to do.

Perfectly sealed, perfectly light proof. We’re all accepting of beer served to us from great big aluminium cans (via taps in bars), but for some reason there’s this stigma that comes with beer being put into serving-sized cans. But a can is just a smaller version of the keg, that you open and drink the contents of, without any thought to storage or resealing – fresh, well preserved, each time.

Mind you, there was no way of testing that with Woodrow’s Veto – this beer tasted fresh because it was very fresh; the cans had only just arrived at Baylands before Nikki Styles (who works in the same building as me) turned up at my desk bright and early in the morning with a couple of “nano-keg” samples for me to try.

Naturally, my boss was standing there talking to me at the time. Open mouthed the boss looked at me and at the departing Nikki.  Turning to me, they asked “um, did she just… give you beer?”

“Yup.”

“Does that… happen often?”

“Well, sometimes. Not usually at work, though.”

Which led to a discussion about beer, about good beer, and what an IPA was and what Baylands were up to. And, eventually, tentative agreement that I’d take my boss out for a drink and show them some of the more interesting things that are going on in Wellington’s beer scene one night soon.

Sharing the beer love!

The Woodrow’s Veto is certainly sharing the IPA love. It’s a hop bomb through and through. A fresh, vibrant aroma of pine and newly cut grass fills the air above the glass, and when it hits your mouth the big hop flavours are balanced nicely on a big, strong sweetness. The flavour in the mouth is full of grapefruit, leaving that sharp, slightly acidic, very more-ish aftertaste I always get from that fruit.

Very fruit, very exciting, very summery. A hop bomb, done very well. And delivered in the can, it should keep its bright hoppiness for many many months, while the mellow sweetness should probably bind it together even more nicely as it ages. Only one way to find out, though. I’ve got a can set aside for just that very reason…

From bringing a bit of summer to a June Sunday, to enjoying in the sun when summer eventually arrives, this is another great beer from a little brewery steadily increasing in both reliability and confidence. And for Baylands take that step into what is for many small brewers “the great unknown”, eschewing bottles for cans, is great to see. I wish them success!

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Hopstock 2014 part 2

You’ve probably worked out by now that I like beer, and I like music. I like walking, too, feeling this pretty city of Wellington under my feet. I’m also an introvert, who needs time to recharge after being around others in social situations. And, putting all those together, day 3 of Hopstock 2014 was a near-perfect day for me.

I’d gone out on Thursday night, but that was mostly to be social. I was able to tick off three more of the Hopstock beers during the evening: Tuatara’s ‘Conehead’ IPA at D4, Dale’s Brewing Co’s ‘Fresh Hop IPA’ at Hashigo Zake, and, at Malthouse, the ‘Fresh Hopped Rudolph’s Pique’ red ale from Wairarapa’s little Peak Brewery. The Dale’s IPA stood out the most for me, being a very clean, very well made and well balanced example of the West Coast IPA style. Nearly flawless.

But, really, the night was for being out with friends. But, with the town full of what was essentially a Friday night, all the pubs were crowded and noisy, and by the time I got home I was very ready to spend some alone time, recharging.

So, just before 11 on ANZAC Day morning, I put in my earphones and set out from my home in the southern hilltop suburb of Kingston. I first walked over to Bebemos, a Latin-American influenced restaurant / bar in Newtown that I’d heard many good things about but never gone out of my way to visit.

Well, I’ll be back. The place had a lovely feel, the menu’s very interesting, and there’s a great range of beer on tap and in the fridge. I brunched on the moqueca, a superb Brazilian fish stew served with spiced ‘biro biro’ rice and drunk the ‘Autumnal Harvest Ale’, a collaboration between Bach Brewing and Shakespeare Brewhouse. The ale is brewed in the saison or farmhouse style, and there’s an appealing spiciness under the tangelo flavours of the hops. It proved a perfect match with the peppery fish stew, a chance combination that I’d love to try again.

After a walk down Adelaide Road and across the Basin Reserve, it was The Hop Garden for 2014’s fresh-hopped version of 8 Wired’s ‘Hopwired.’ Unsurprisingly this was a massive hop bomb, with huge citrus aroma smacking into the nose, and a big clean taste of sweet lemon. But it faded a bit quickly, leaving a bit of an astringent aftertaste, and I wonder if it might’ve needed a bit more oomph in the body, with a bit of more malt solidity to balance the huge hops.

But, just to show it’s all subjective, a guy I chatted with while tasting the beer thought it was perfect. Ah, it’s all subjective, isn’t it?

Hopwit IPA from Mike's Organic Brewery.

Hopwit IPA from Mike’s Organic Brewery.

Next, a walk over to The Southern Cross for the ‘Hopwit IPA’ from Mike’s Organic Brewery. Look at it. Cloudy as an orange juice. Lots of juicy apricot flavours from the Nelson Sauvin hops sitting above an excellent sour wheat ale body. I love sour beers, and so do the brewers at Mike’s, and they’ve never let me down yet.

Then it was a walk down Cuba Street to Golding’s Free Dive, always a favourite place of mine to visit. Here the Hopstock beer was ‘Waifly’ by Baylands Brewery. Oh my god. Hops. Hops hops and more hops. I’m glad I only had a taster, as I could feel it killing my tastebuds. Not my thing, I admit, but for those seeking extremes of hops I bet this was their favourite of this year’s Hopstock brews. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a beer quite so tongue-stripping. I bet Neil Miller loves it…

Thankfully, I had a chance to refresh my palate after that, as my next destination was another bar I’d never visited before; the Kelburn Village Pub. I hopped on the #23 bus up the hill, past the university into a suburb I’ve never visited since graduation. Weirdly, it seems to have not changed all that much in the last 15 years…

The Kelburn Village Pub scored immediate brownie points by me for their snack menu (or “tapas” as they called it, but really, it’s not). Because as well as chips, dips and breads, they offered a small bowl of salad in the same price range. Perfect. More pubs need to do this; while there’s always a place for fries, pizza and chicken wings, I love a good salad or lighter, healthier light meal, especially during the day.

Hopstacle Course

‘Hopstacle Course’ golden ale from Golden Bear Brewing, and a delicious little salad at the Kelburn Village Pub

The salad, the cosy interior, and friendly staff made me very well disposed towards the ‘Hopstacle Course’ golden ale brewed by Mapua’s brew pub and brewing supplies company, Golden Bear.

Regular readers of this blog will know I’m a huge fan of hoppy golden ales anyway, and this one was delightfully clean, crisp and refreshing. Another great combination of food, beer and environment.

Finally, through Kelburn, down the steps and down Tinakori Road to Sprig & Fern for their fresh-hopped ‘Harvest Pilsner.’ It’s a favourite lager of mine, and with the addition of fresh Motueka and Nelson Sauvin hops, it’s bright, vibrant and fruity while the solid biscuit-like malty base never disappoints.

It was a lovely way to spend an autumn day. About five and a half hours, about ten or so kilometres walked while listening to music, popping into six different bars to chat with bar staff or fellow drinkers, with some nice food and interest beers on the way. A day that was good for the soul.

Well played, Hopstock 2014, well played.

Baylands Brewery ‘Miss Demeanour’

Beer love.  It’s like bus love, but with a beer.

What, you haven’t heard of bus love, either?  Well, it’s when you’re sitting on the bus and someone gets on who you instantly fall head-over-heels in love with.  Something about their hair, their clothes, their posture, the way they swipe their Snapper card.  Something.  And you sit there for the rest of the trip in a reverie of romance, a life spent together, children and forever after.

Or maybe just really hot sex.

Anyway, beer love’s a lot like that.  When you’re sitting there, having a drink or two, and a new beer appears in your glass that you’ve never tried before.  And from the first mouthful you know this is the one. The one you’ll drink again and again, love forever.

At least until the next beer that sweeps you off your feet.

Mind you, unlike bus love, beer love is more likely to be reciprocated.  Beer is a very giving drink in that regard.  And unlike bus love, it’s likely you’ll be able to continue the fling with that beer again and again and the more I think about it beer love isn’t all that similar to bus love when you get right down to it.

Um, where was I?

Oh, yeah, last Wednesday I was breaking my sort-of-Feb Fast with a few beers at Bin 44Rex Attitude was first up, of course, and it barely touched the sides.  But soon after was my first taste of Baylands BreweryMiss Demeanour.’ And it was beer love, just like that.

Not long ago I waxed a bit lyrical about ‘Golden Perch’ from Yeastie Boys.  Now, I love that ale so much I could almost say that the “hoppy golden ale” style might well be my favourite.  If I’d ever tasted more than just that one.

Well, now I’ve got a sample size of two, and I’ll take the 100% success rate as confirmation that, yes, hoppy golden ales are a favourite style of mine.  Especially on a sunny summer or autumn’s afternoon.

This golden ale is chock full of hops.  Perhaps too full, if you’re a golden ale purist.  Me, I love the explosion of citrus and resin that wafts off the top, and the big, sharp fruity grapefruit flavours that roll around in the mouth.  And a big, long, sweet and resinous aftertaste, lip smacking and leaving the mouth just dry enough that you want another sip.

And, at 4.2% abv, this is one that you can keep on sipping for a few pints as the sun sets without getting too squiffy. 

Delicious.  So much so I had to pop back into the bar the next day just to make sure I wasn’t imagining how delicious this unassuming golden ale from the little garage-based family brewery from Newlands.  Nope, even better the second time around (with no Rex to ruin the palate beforehand).

There’s some great stuff coming out of that Newlands garage, and for my taste buds, this is the best yet.  Cheers, Aidan and Nikki Styles!

Big call time: I think it might even be better than the Golden Perch.  I’d really like to try Miss Demeanour from the bottle to be sure, so for now I’ll tie them neck-to-neck when it comes to smooth, easy drinking, moderately boozy full flavoured hoppy golden ales. 

How’s that for a style classification?