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May 26, 2008 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

New Beers in Wellington

These days, twenty dollars won’t even buy you a t-shirt to wear to the graduation ceremony. However, it was the price of admission to the 2008 Wellington Food Show and most people there seemed to be getting plenty of value for their money.

Last year, there was the rather unbalanced choice of nine beers or over 150 different wines. Thankfully, beer was better represented this time with twenty six offerings available. That tally included several beers new to the Wellington market.

The Food Show was the first time I’d ever even heard of the Storm Brewery in Bali. While most Asian breweries focus exclusively on light lagers, Storm makes a wide range of ales, many of them are bottle conditioned. The Storm Pale Ale (4.2%) was surprisingly fresh, fruity and refreshing.

The Storm website contains the delightfully implausible story of how the brewery was founded. It involves the King of England, the King of France, a convenient lightning strike and a young woman who “falls prey to mysterious forces and tragically disappears.” This could be because, according to the story, she is simultaneously the daughter of the king and the daughter of a rival brewer.

Leandra Imports are also bringing in the much more famous Bintang (5%). The best selling beer in Indonesia is made by Heineken and is a sweetish lager best known for its quenching qualities on a hot holiday. I also sampled Bintang Zero (0%) which actually tastes more like apple juice than beer.

The Filter Room is the new name for the Hawke’s Bay Independent Brewery which has also traded as Mates. In 2007 they moved into brand new brewing premises, got a new name and released a new range of beer, cider and spirits.

At the show, they had five beer including the eminently sessionable Pure Lager (4%) and the hoppier, sharper Force Pilsner (5%). The Special Reserve (5%) is more of summer style with touches of ginger, honey and cinnamon. It was described to me as “a ladies beer.” The Black Duck (4%) is a roasty dark lager with pronounced chocolate notes. Finally, there was Bug Ginger Beer – a nonalcoholic version of my beer style nemesis. Actually, Bug is not overly sweet and I can see its appeal to people who like that sort of beverage.

The Filter Room beers are now available at Moore Wilsons and the Island Bay New World.


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