Yeastie Boys ‘Punkadiddle’

IMAG2065I do enjoy drinking beer outside.

Maybe it’s because I’m not too much of a fan of a bar that’s very crowded and noisy inside – years of playing in or watching live bands in small rooms has damaged my hearing a bit, and when there’s a lot of hubbub, babble and music in a crowded bar, I often can’t make out a word that is said to me.

Maybe it’s because I’ve a few friends who are smokers, and so sharing a beer with them almost inevitably means drinking out in the (not-so) clear air.

But, mostly, it’s just I like the feeling of being in the fresh air, being able to see the sky while I sup a nice drink and chat with friends.

Being a hardened Wellingtonian, provided there’s some cover and a bit of hopeful shelter from the wind I’m happy to be in the outside area of a bar in all seasons. Sure, I’d prefer warm summer or dry autumn, but chilly winter and damp spring are fine, too.

But it does help if the bar does have some heating to take the chill off the August night air.

I’m a particular fan of those fire table thingys. You know, the tall ones with a gas flame in a central well, that you can stand around (or sit on a high chair at), with your beer in front of you and the warmth from the flame gently warming both you and the beer against the chill winter air. (Googles – ah, they’re called “fire pit tables”! See, you learn something every day!)

My beloved Bin 44 used to have one of those tall gas fire pit tables, but it stopped working a while back. But this week, when I arrived for a quick after-work beer before heading into town, I was delighted to see a shiny new table had arrived, with a happy orange flame dancing from the well.

To celebrate, my friend and I ordered two pints of Yeastie Boy’s ‘Punkadiddle’. It’s a lovely wee drop, and one that at 3.7% won’t throw your evening into a spin if you have a few. It’s described as an “English Red Ale”, and while it is certainly red in colour I get more of a sense of it being a well made, sessionable English bitter. It’s got a lot of sweet and fruity hops coming off the top of a well rounded, almost nutty malty base, a combination of flavours I tend to associate with a traditional bitter.

But, the malt’s doing something a little bit else, which I guess is the Red Ale element; there’s an almost-sourness. Not unpleasant by any means, but a play between the hops and the reddish malt turns out a flavour that reminds me of a slightly old walnut; where the oils have gone slightly rancid, but not so much that they ruin the delicious nuttiness flavour.

As the glass warmed though, warmed by the dancing flame, this nice little beer just got more charming, the flavours melding smoothly into something almost like a light and fluffy pecan pie; but less sweet. I love a beer with a good taste of nuttiness, and the easy drinking Punkadiddle certainly gave me that flavour.

A great beer to drink while chatting with a friend beside an open flame, fending off the cold of a Wellington winter’s night, watching the run pour down onto the Queens Wharf plaza.


P.S. And, on the subject of Bin 44, congratulations to their Duty Manager Kieran O’Malley and his partner Abigail on the birth of their daughter Eden. Cheers, Kieran, Abigail and little Eden!

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?

Golden Pints 2013 – the bar

Wellington. “Craft beer capital of New Zealand.”[1]  We drink a lot of it here.  And we have an ever increasing number of bars who stock tasty beers, as well as bars who specialise in them.  It’s a great place to have a beer.  Such as…

Bin 44 – buzz and hum’s favourite bar of 2013

A quiet pint at Bin 44 as the sun goes down over Wellington

A quiet pint at Bin 44 as the sun goes down over Wellington

Sometimes it’s all about having a local.

For years I hadn’t had one.  I live in a suburb whose hub consists of a superette, a Chinese takeaway, and a public toilet.[2]  I work down by Wellington’s railway station, a part of town not known for its vibrant craft beer scene.   But Bin 44 opened on Queen’s Wharf in 2012, and I soon discovered that was the perfect place to stop if looking for a pint of something good after work.

Location wise, it works very well. Sitting near the water, it’s slightly off to the side of the main routes through town, but this is a plus. A brief diversion for a drink before catching the bus for home, or for a few tasty beverages to start the night off before walking along the waterfront towards the bars in the Taranaki Street / Courtney Place / Dixon Street area.

If it’s a cold evening, stay inside – there’s booths, leaners, sofas and, one one side, restaurant seating. But when the sun is shining or the night is warm you’ll want to be outside. All the doors open, and tables sprawl out into the sunshine for almost a quarter of the plaza between the bar and the TSB events centre.

Continue reading