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July 13, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Spice up Your WIntER


Over the break I have been conducting extensive research on your behalf into the many newly released craft beers. In fact, I write this column from Dunedin where I have been tasting some of the freshest beer possible. Dunedin is known as ‘Emerson’s country’ in the beer industry, as Emerson’s dominates their beerscape. The newest beer from Emerson’s released over the break is a spiced Belgian Dubbel, with a bit of history.

Since 2007, Emerson’s Brewery has released a Belgian style brew once each year under the moniker ‘JP’. Like many Emerson’s beers, this name has some history. JP is the nickname of ‘Jean Pierre-Dufour’, who was an Otago University professor who sadly passed away in 2007. Coming from Belgium, he had a passion for the diversity of Belgian beer styles and did much to advance the New Zealand craft beer industry.

Jean gave the Emerson’s brewery a lot of advice and feedback about their beers over the years, and to honour this great man the JP annual release was born. The Belgian Dubbel style, has been given some of Emerson’s pizzazz by adding the cinnamon-like star anise spice to the brew.

The beer pours almost black with ruby edges. The brown head is quite frothy and dissipates quickly. Fruity aromas are foremost, dark fruits/berries. The anise spice is also quite strong—Richard Emerson must love brewing with those spices. It smells similar to Taieri George, but fruitier. However, the flavour is completely different to the George. Initially a mouth-filling astringency overcomes, possibly the alcohol showing. Warming flavours of aniseed and dark berries, then followed by a faint roast malt. The finish is quite long, and astringent. I’m not sure I like the big alcohol flavour in this one, it takes away from the drinkability quite a lot. But this should mellow out with time.

A Food Science Student Scholarship was established by Emerson’s, and sales of JP assist in the funding of this.

The yeast used in this year’s vintage is the same used in the 2007 brew. This Chimay yeast relinquished some amazing flavours after about a year. The 2009 JP is still very young, and will improve significantly after a few months. Good things take time…

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


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