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August 9, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Beers that roll their Rs

Invercargill is one of those places that New Zealanders seem to know very little about. It has that outspoken guy who appeared in The World’s Fastest Indian as the mayor (Tim Shadbolt), the locals speak like pirates, and they are the proud (temporary) holders of the Ranfurly Shield.

But my favourite thing about Invercargill is its brewery.

While Invercargill seems like more of a country-man’s paradise than the home of truly special craft beer, ten years ago Steve Nally and his father Gerry decided to start a brewery there. And beyond all expectations, over the years Invercargill Brewery has become one of the most respected breweries in the country.

The second beer Invercargill Brewery ever made was the Pitch Black Stout (4.5%), initially to compliment the Bluff Oyster. And while it is yet to feature at an oyster festival, the sweet stout is comfortably the brewery’s biggest seller—and holds a very special place in my heart. With its chocolate aroma, coffee and roasted malt flavours, and its lighter body, Pitch Black is an accessible, sessionable and tasty stout, which just happened to trigger my love for dark beers. Perfect for taking the edge off a cold winter’s night, while, at the same time, quenching your thirst.

Invercargill has three other beers in its range which are available all year round—B.Man golden lager, Wasp honey pilsner and Stanley Green pale ale—and while they’re all very good, the more exciting thing about the brewery is its relatively newfound flair for experimental beers.

In 2007, Steve decided to brew a very small batch of a smoked bock-style beer to give his apprentice, Pru Bishop, experience in making a 50-litre brew. Probably the first smoked beer produced by a New Zealand craft brewer, word spread and many litres later, two full commercial batches of the 2009 limited release of Smokin’ Bishop (7%) were pre-sold before its July launch date.

And it’s not hard to see why. I will never forget the first time I lifted the ruby red beer to my mouth and tasted… manuka smoked bacon. No kidding. The sweet smoke, roasted malt, caramel and, well, bacon flavours combine to create a delicious, savoury and incredibly unusual drop. Steve’s even been holding some of the bottles back to release the Smokin’ Bishop from three consecutive years, to give beer lovers the chance to compare the different batches.

Other interesting brews from the Southland brewery include Boysenbeery, Dubbel Happy and Saison, and are all well worth a taste if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon the right bar or liquor store at the right time.

Over the past ten years, Invercargill Brewery has built a reputation on its ability to produce consistent, flavoursome and—at times—unusual beer. So it’s no wonder contract breweries like Yeastie Boys and Pink Elephant have come to Invercargill to use Steve Nally’s facilities and expertise to help produce their beers on a larger scale for us all to enjoy.
A selection of Invercargill Brewery’s best will be available at Beervana on the 27th and 28th of August. I can’t wait.

If you have any questions about this week’s beers or any comments, please contact me at denisethebeergirl@gmail.com.

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