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September 28, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Spring Time


I bet you were late to class at least once this week. Daylight savings has come to mess with our internal clocks. To me, this means it is spring.

Gone is the time for tar-black stouts and strong, warming porters. Now is the time to lighten the brew in your glass—but not too much.

The perfect beer for spring is something in between a dark winter beer and a light, golden summer beer. And often a bit radical.

On my recent beer pilgrimage to the South Island I discovered a beer fitting the bill perfectly. The fact that this brewery showered me with free beer of course did nothing to colour my opinion. Wigram Munchner Dunkel (5.2%) has the perfect balance between the malty goodness of a winter beer and the fruitiness which oozes summer. Wigram is the only New Zealand brewery (to my knowledge) brewing this German style of beer. The combination of slight roast malt and a unique fruitiness make this a versatile brew for this unpredictable spring weather.

Wigram actually do another great beer for spring, probably an even better fit than the Dunkel: Kortegast Sparkling Red Ale (5%). This odd beer uses a portion of wild hops, found on the bank of the Hokitika river. It is believed that the original hops were grown by one of the first New Zealand brewers: William CJ Kortegast. The beer itself pours an alluring bronze, and is very carbonated. Toasty malt flavours pervade, with a fresh, crisp hop finish and good bitterness from the unique hops.

Another perfect match for spring is a Vienna lager, but they’re a bit hard to find these days. A Vienna lager is made with a small proportion of roasted malt, which imbues a reddish tinge and a toasty flavour. It is quite fitting that an obscure brewery makes this obscure style. Wanaka Beerworks Cadrona Gold (4.0%) has the colour down and a nice caramel achieved by using darker malts. As the label says: “A golden lager of quaffable contingencies”. If you’re wondering where to find this, you’ll come across it in the fridge at Regional Wines and Spirits.

Whether the weather is overcast, sunny or raining (or all three, knowing Wellington), these beers will suit the coming months just fine. It’s difficult to find such versatile beers, let alone create them, so applaud the great effort from these micro breweries and enjoy the fruits of their labour this spring.

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


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