300 More Beers to Try Before You Die is described on the cover as the companion to his previous best-selling book entitled 300 Beers to Try Before You Die. The Guardian calls it “a weighty handbook of excellence, written by one of the most knowledgeable people in the field.”  Roger had sent me a signed copy because I had provided a modicum of help regarding New Zealand beers.
I have read piles of Protz’s prose for many years but have had the pleasure of meeting the man himself only twice – both in Melbourne. On several occasions I have likened him as ‘a gentleman on the podium, a tiger behind the keyboard.’ He is unfailing polite in person but his columns can be absolutely rip roaring affairs with plenty of fire and brimstone.
After basically tearing open the packaging with my teeth, patriotism dictated I quickly look up all the New Zealand beers.  I was quite stoked to see there were eight Kiwi brews listed. Sure, the 300 is dominated by beers from the United Kingdom (particularly Protz’s native England) and Australia annoyingly had sixteen, but plucky little Godzone edged out brewing powerhouses like the Czech Republic (7 beers), Canada (1), the Netherlands (2) and, to a lesser extent, Iceland (1).
Here are the eight New Zealand beers in alphabetical order with highlights from Protz’s comments and the latest on their status at Malthouse:
8 Wired HopWired: “The complex fruit character is balanced by cracker wheat malt and booming hop notes… I believe its massive fruit notes make it more at home among New World Pale Ales.” – Available in bottles at Malthouse.
Croucher Pilsner: “The finished beer has a burnished gold colour with a thick collar of foam. The aroma offers toasted malt with tropical fruit and spicy hops. The palate is dominated by a full-bodied toasted malt character with a good balance of citrus and hops. Hints of caramel make an appearance in the long finish alongside tart orange fruit and spicy hops. The beer finally becomes dry and quenching.” – Available in bottles at Malthouse.
Emerson’s Bookbinder: I did not know the following facts about Booky – it was initially brewed as a one-off for a festival at the Criterion Hotel in Oamaru in 1996, it was named after local bookbinders Michael O’Brien and David Stedmen, and the original recipe was literally written on the back of an envelope. In 1997, Richard Emerson accepted a silver medal for Bookbinder at the Wellington Brewfest from the late great Michael Jackson himself. 
Protz also writes “A complex grist is comprised of ale, lager, crystal and black malts. The amber beer has a perfumy hop aroma with ‘malt loaf’ grain notes and rich vinous sultana and raisin fruit. Malt and fruit build in the mouth but they are balanced by bitter hop resins. The finish is long and finally becomes dry but with continuing contributions from burnt fruit, nutty malt and bitter hops. A far from ‘ordinary’ bitter.” – Currently not available at Malthouse.
Emerson’s Pilsner: “Richard says the fruitiness of the [Riwaka] hop compares with the celebrated Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown in New Zealand… The beer has a toasted malt and citrus hop aroma, with ripe orange and passionfruit on the palate, balanced by a corn-on-the-cob note from the malt and a fresh-mown-grass hop note. The finish is long, with a fine balance of juicy malt, bitter hops and tangy fruit.” – Available in bottles at Malthouse.
Emerson’s Weizenbock: “Local beer writer Neil Miller says ‘the annual release of this wonderfully dark and strong wheat beer is a highlight on the New Zealand beer calendar’… It has an immense aroma of and palate of bananas, cloves and other spices, chocolate, raisins and Christmas cake. The finish is long, deep and complex, with continuing notes of bananas, cloves, chocolate, raisins, roasted grains and gentle hop resins.” – Only available seasonally.
Epic Armageddon: “The pale copper-coloured beer has an enormous blast of lemon and grapefruit on the nose from the hops along with hop resins and slightly toasted/oatmeal malt. Bittersweet fruit, oatcakes and massive, iodine-like hop bitterness coat the mouth while the finish is long and complex, with tangy fruit, bitter and biscuit malt vying for attention.” Protz seems to like the barrel aged version even more! – Available in bottles at Malthouse and will be on tap again shortly.
Invercargill Pitch Black Stout: “The beer has a glowing ruby edge in the classic stout fashion. The aroma offers caramel, milk chocolate, burnt toast and gentle hint of floral hops. There’s a charred note from the roasted grain on the palate but it’s balanced by creamy malt, chocolate and gentle hops. The finish is a delicious blend of roasted grain, milk chocolate, caramel and light hop resins.” – Available in bottles at Malthouse.
Three Boys Wheat: Roger stresses Dr Ralph Bungard’s time in Sheffield and “taste for British beer.” “Ralph says ‘we add dry ground coriander seed from India and our favourite lemon zest comes from the variety Yen Ben. We only use zest and not juice in the brew. Lemons are a much more Kiwi form of citrus – most home gardens have a lemon tree – and we feel lemon zest adds a little more local NZ flavour to the brew… The beer has a zesty/spicy aroma of lemon and coriander with creamy malt and floral hops. Citrus builds in the mouth, balanced by the creamy malt, light hops and peppery spice. The finish is long and quenching with rich, creamy malt, spice, gentle hops and a tangy and tart lemon note.” – Available in bottles at Malthouse.
To my mind, this was a pretty fair reflection of established Kiwi craft beers which have been consistently good over several years and are likely to be around for several more. One of the major difficulties of writing books about beer is that the information can become out of date very, very quickly and it is important that the legions of Protz’s readers have at least a sporting chance of tracking down some of the Kiwi beers showcased in this weighty tome of excellence.
Overall, Protz seems to admire of the Kiwi beer scene and he is a man who drinks beer for a living around the world. The next step is getting him to actually come to New Zealand. After that, we may try to make him take his tie off at the pub but that may be pushing our colonial luck. He seemed genuinely mortified that I once threatened to report him to CAMRA to turning up to breakfast without a jacket. 
Now, I am one who is never afraid to admit when I was wrong, mainly because I get lots of practice. In the last blog, I incorrectly stated that the Yeastie Boys five year anniversary mini-magazine used a lot of “strange photoshopping.” This prompted polychromatic brewer Stu McKinlay to send in a polite correction saying they used absolutely no Photoshop technology – it was all “old school collage.”  He understandably did not dispute the “strange” part given the pictures in there. The bear playing a bottle of beer as a guitar was at the more normal end of the scale…
Next time, we drink to (Sir) Shane Warne, the greatest legal spinner of all time, who reportedly enjoyed a few quiet craft beers  in Blenheim according to my confidential sources. 
 Sadly, I doubt any beer books I may write will ever be described as “weighty”, “excellent” or “knowledgeable”.
 This was only after ego forced me to look for my name in the index first. Unsurprisingly, it does not appear. However, I am quoted as local beer writer on page 221 waxing lyrical about Emerson’s Weizenbock.
 I have a plastic glass from Beerfest which is currently on display in the Malthouse cabinets. I’m not sure if it was from that particular year but I do know I wasn’t there. I bought the glass at a dodgy shop in Paraparaumu for $1 some years later. They were probably pleasantly surprised someone gave them money for it.
 See footnote 2 above.
 My breakfasting outfit made it appear I had gotten dressed in a hedge, backwards, while it was dark, but this is apparently my normal look.
 Younger readers may need to know that collage involves sticking actual pictures on top of other actual pictures before photocopying or scanning them. It was a more elegant form of art, for a more civilised age.
 Turned out to be Moa. Draw your own conclusions.
 My sources being Facebook and then an article in the Marlborough Express. Not exactly Pulitzer Prize winning journalism there…
Beer and Brewer Magazine
300 More Beers To Try Before You Die – http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/300-More-Beers-Try-Before-You-Die-Roger-Protz/9781852492953
8 Wired – www.8wired.co.nz
Croucher – http://www.croucherbrewing.co.nz/
Emerson’s – http://www.emersons.co.nz/
Epic – www.epicbeer.com
Invercargill – http://www.invercargillbrewery.co.nz/
Three Boys – http://www.threeboysbrewery.co.nz/
Malthouse Facebook – www.facebook.com/pages/Malthouse/7084276173
Malthouse Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/malthouse
Malthouse Taps on Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/MalthouseTaps
Neil Miller on Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/#!/beerlytweeting
Beer and Brewer Magazine – www.beerandbrewer.com/