I’m not sure what I have done wrong [2] but here are my comments on each of the beers currently confirmed. There is a caveat – I have not tried many of these – partly because a number have not been released yet and partly because they are sour fruit beers. What could possibly go wrong? Punch it Chewie:

 Renaissance Citrus Kiss (3.7%) – This former Champion Brewery of New Zealand is starting to walk more and more on the sour side. As the name suggests, there is a battle between citrus and sour in the glass and opinion on-line is divided about which side of the brew dominates.

Invercargill Boysenbeery Sour (5.0%) – The huggable Steve Nally and his team in Invercargill Brewery have long used fruit in beer, including a boysenberry stout. This is a sour version of their regular boysenberry beer which has a number of Belgium-style notes. [3]

Choice Bros Tremble Like a Flower (3.0%) – This is the first beer I’ve seen described as a Polish Sour Cherry Beer so it will probably be the best one I’ve ever tried. Be warned – If you don’t have David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” in your head for two hours after even reading this beer’s name then you have worse taste in music than me. [4] If you actually drink it then I imagine the song will be an earworm for a day.

Tuatara Tart (7.9%) – Dubbed by the brewers as “The Raspberry Charmer”, this pink blush beer is designed to blend “the characteristics of a robust Belgian-styled beer to the tart charms of raspberry.” The bottle label is so pink that I said “damn, that’s really pink.” I’m colour blind but it was so pink I actually got the colour right. [5]

North End Rivage Brux (6.2%) – It is the first “Salt and Wood” Reserve beer from Kieran Haslett-Moore in his new Waikanae brewery. He describes it as “a Farmhouse ale aged with Brettanomyces in Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc barrels and dry hopped with Wai Iti hops. The result is tangy, lightly funky with an underlying grapey note.” I’m not going to argue with Kieran’s palate – particularly on one of his own beers.

Wild and Woolly Orchard Sour – This is a limited edition apricot sour beer from a Wellington nano-brewery. I was at the Greater Wellington Brew Day and overheard a number of people saying “I don’t usually like beer but I love this!” [6]

Black Dog 14 Month Barrel Aged Sour – I can confidently predict this beer is from Black Dog Brewery (a nearby neighbour of Malthouse) and it will be a sour beer (probably a Saison) which has been aged in barrels for just over a year. Sorry, I got nothing else.

Garage Project Wabi Sabi Sour (7.7%) – When the Garage Project team themselves call the beer “challenging and interestingly different” then there has to be something serious funky happening in the bottle. I’m not sure whether to kiss Wabi Sabi or hide under the table until someone else drinks it. It is a strong golden beer which has been soured by multiple strains of semi-wild yeasts and bacteria then conditioned on Yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit) and honey dew melon. You know, the usual. [7]

Good George Waikato Sour (6.5%) – As far as I can tell, this a barrel aged and bretted Sour Ale. I am reliably informed by the barmy, benevolent and bounderish Unit Manager Ciaran Duffy that this is the “last keg ever”.

Hallertau Funkonnay (6.5%) – While many breweries use wild yeast, semi wild yeast, sour fruit or barrel aging to impart a certain sourness and funkiness in their beer, Steve Plowman from Hallertau takes a unique approach. He emerges his naked body in the wort and tastes it constantly until it achieves that magic sourness. Mr Plowman predictably claims he uses “nice bugs” and Chardonnay barrel aging to get the dry peachy finish. [8]

Hop Federation Cherry Berliner Weisse (4.0%) – This beer is being launched at Malthouse’s Sourfest. Berliner Weisse is a challenging style for me to like but I do like it better with a shot of syrup. I’m presuming the cherries take on that kind of role to soften the acidity of the Weisse but also bringing in the sweet and tart character of cherry. [9]

Moa Persimmon Sour (6.70%) – Moa is in the process of developing a number of sour beers including the new Persimmon Sour which will be launched at Malthouse and is available only in limited amounts. For the record, a persimmon is “the edible fruit of a number of species of trees in the genus Diospyros. Diospyros is in the family Ebenaceae.” [10] As a fruit it looks like and is often treated like an apple, but it is technically a berry. Not a lot of people know that…

Fork Brewing Tainted Love (6.20%) – I’m going to defer to former Beer Writer of the Year Michael Donaldson on this one from his article “No soft sell needed: it’s tainted love.” He wrote “it’s tart but not sour and is offset by a remarkable passionfruit note which comes from … passionfruit. There’s also a juniper tea which gives a bitter woody, pine note similar to hops. And then there’s yoghurt … did I say this was no ordinary beer? The yoghurt culture, without the dairy component, is used to sour the beer…  I don’t think I’ve had a more refreshing or interesting beer this side of the winter solstice.” [11]

Mike’s The Strawberry Lies down on Lambic (5.00%) – This is another launch beer at Malthouse this year. The team at mike’s have been playing around with barrels for many years now in their remote Urenui brewery. Usually it has been big old stouts however mike’s Strawberry Blonde lager has long been part of their core range. Now they are combining wild yeast and lots of strawberries and the results will be… interesting!   

Eagle Golden Sour (3.80%) – The Christchurch brewers describe this as “Kettle Soured Golden Ale blended with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, filtered.” I know I’ve hidden it really well over the years but I don’t particularly care for sour beers, fruit beers and/or sour fruit beers. But, and this is a big but, the last three grapefruit beers I’ve tried have been sensational. If you see me drinking a sour ale at Malthouse, it’s probably going to be this one.

ParrotDog Rarebird Tomtit (5.60%) – One of the Rarebird speciality range from the three Matts at ParrotDog, they introduced it as a Sour Ale conditioned on tamarillos. It is not the first time tamarillos have appeared in beer but it has been a while. I suspect it will be a polar opposite to the Epic Portamillo which was a dark beer with smoked tamarillo. This one will be sharper and fresher.

Sparks Brewing Forbearance Sour (3.60%) – Brewer Adam Sparks says “I really enjoy the added layer of complexity that sourness can bring to a low alcohol beer like this. Combined with a good dose of late hops and a heavy hand of dry hops, the resulting character is so similar to fresh grapefruit. You see real fruit has tannin’s, bitterness and sourness all in one bite and it is this very sensation that I’m trying to replicate with Forbearance.” A dry hopped sour beer that tastes like grapefruit, I might have to give this one a go too.

There will also be beers from 8 Wired and Funk Estate, plus probably a few others. Details as they come to hand. Don’t you dare be sour, Malthouse better feel the power – its Sourfest!

Next time we drink to slipping another wrestling reference into the blog title.

[1] This is yet to catch on as a tagline for the lovers of sour beers.

[2] The list is too long…

[3] Did you see the clever spelling of “Boysenbeery”? Who says people in Invercargill can’t write? Apart from the Ministry of Education of course…

[4] Nobody wants that particular epithet.

[5] On before of colour blind people everyone, when we reveal our affliction, please do not ask us what colour every single item of clothing you are wearing is. (This is called Don’s Law).

[6] I’m always impressed by non-beer drinkers who go to a beer festival and try all the things. I doubt I could go to festivals featuring wine or Green Chartreuse.

[7] In a 2014 Malthouse Blog I (half) joked that Pete Gillespie could pee in a barrel, throw in some Brett yeast, age the beer in a port barrel with smoked kippers for a year and people would throw money at him to buy a magnum of the stuff. I have to say I’m kind of surprised this has not happened yet…

[8] His brewery is full of barrels but I think they are largely for show.

[9] If you see me drinking this, go and hug your loved ones. It’s a sign of the appocolypse.

[10] But I’m sure you already knew that.

[11] Standard Disclaimers: I own a small part of Fork Brewing and think Michael Donaldson is really awesome.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

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