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May 9, 2011 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Beer Will Be Beer – Beer & Whisky

Beer and whisky have always had an affinity, being made of the same base ingredient, mashed and fermented—only whisky is distilled, and beer has hops.

When the most imperial of IPAs won’t cut it, many beer drinkers turn to whisky. However, a new Yeastie Boys release looks to fill that niche with beer.
Yeastie Boys’ Creative Director Stu McKinlay has long been a Scotch whisky fan and so, one day last year, he created an experimental test batch using Peated Distilling Malt (PDM), usually used in whisky from the Isle of Islay (pronounced “eye-lah”). This wouldn’t be such an extreme undertaking if Stu had followed normal brewing sense, which is to only use PDM as a maximum of 5% of your total malt (the smoky Scotch ale stonecutter has only around 1%). Stu used 100%.

What should have been so smoky that it was one note and undrinkable, was surpisingly complex and tasty. I was lucky enough to taste the second test batch, with 95% PDM and 5% caramel malt. Oddly, reducing the percentage of smoked malt made the beer less drinkable, with the caramalt adding too much richness. The lesson was learned, and two metric tonnes of PDM was ordered from Scotland. There wasn’t enough in New Zealand to make even one batch.

Here we are months later, and the child of beer and whisky, Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude (7%), is on the shelves.
My first sip was like licking an ash tray, but after a few more, my palate had time to adjust to the intense smoke, and the more subtle elements of the beer emerged. I was less blinded by the smoke, and more intrigued. The ash tray smoke turned into smoky bacon, and invited another sip. US Willamette hops provide a faint citrus flavour, which works well with some malty sweetness.

Almost all of Rex Attitude was bottled and these will be available at all good beer outlets in Wellington from here on out, making for Yeastie Boys’ third year-round offering. A select few outlets will be brave enough to put Rex on tap—confirmed so far are Regional Wines & Spirits, Malthouse, Bruhaus and Hashigo Zake. *

If you have any questions about this week’s beers or any comments, please contact me at or Tweet at me @davethebeerguy


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  1. Axel says:

    The Rex was why my Nogne #100 tasted so weird. Such a forceful character of a beer that it wasn’t happy to just leave the lines quietly, evidently…

  2. Stu as "Stu" says:

    @ Axel – I’d have suggested putting Oyster Stout through a line after rex. Or maybe Big Smoke, to make it Bigger Smoke.

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