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May 31, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Weather woes

It’s getting colder, wetter, and—somehow—windier here in the capital. Winter’s here. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Winter is the perfect season to enjoy many good things in life. Woollen socks, roast dinners and coffee all look or feel or taste better when it’s cold outside. And while beer is generally a cold beverage, some just taste better when it’s colder.

Two beers which immediately spring to mind come from Dux de Lux. The Dux, as it’s fondly called, is a restaurant, bar and brewery found in Christchurch and Queenstown. For years, people from the mainland have enjoyed the delicious ales and lagers while dining in the Dux, or just chilling at the bar. But a couple of years ago, Dux de Lux released a selection of their beers in bottles—including two of my favourites—and they’re now readily available in Wellington.

Dicky Fife, the head brewer at Dux de Lux, has a background as a chef, and has used that knowledge of food flavours to his advantage. Some of the Dux beers are simple, yet tasty, and others have a complex array of very different flavours, which he’s been able to make work together—and well.

Dux Nor’wester (6.5%) is described as a strong pale ale on the bottle. While the nor’wester is a rare occurrence in Wellington, and usually sweeps through the country during the warmer months, this beer is perfectly suited to drinking during the colder weather. Amber in colour, this beer has light fruit hop aromas, and roast and caramel notes. The flavour is malt-driven, with warming roasted, coffee and caramel flavours. The hops are light and citric, and the beer is very well balanced between sweet and bitter. While refreshing during the summer months too, this goes down best next to the fire, or more likely, the one-bar heater.

During the winter months, many beer drinkers tend to reach for the dark ales like stouts and porters. While some people find them too bitter or too much like a ‘meal’, the Dux Sou’Wester (6.5%) is a very accessible dark beer. One of the newer additions to the Dux range, this sweet stout isn’t too intimidating. Sou’wester pours a lovely black/ruby colour and smells of slightly burnt chocolate fondue (hey, I’m not so good at melting chocolate on the stove). It tastes of chocolate, sultanas and slightly burnt malt with dark fruit notes, and has a delicate hop bitterness throughout. The sweetness builds as it warms, but the best thing is that it’s not too heavy or rich, because the texture is relatively light and refreshing.

Both of these beers are made to be enjoyed slowly or shared, and are available individually in 500ml bottles from Glengarry, Regional Wines and Spirits and most good New World supermarkets. Others in the range can also be found in four packs—look out for the Ginger Tom (world famous in New Zealand) and Dux Lager when the temperature begins to rise.

So while the weather outside will remain relatively uninspiring for the next few months, why not warm up with some Dux de Lux ales next to the sole flat heater and a blanket over your knees? They’ll just taste better.

If you have any questions or comments about this week’s beers, you can email me at


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