That said, I freely acknowledge that sour beers are a big thing in the New Zealand beer scene. Heck, I even predicted this phenomena way before sours were actually cool.

One of the most popular events at Malthouse is Sourfest, a now annual celebration of the sour, tart and mouth puckering brews that have become so popular with people that are not me. Sourfest 2017 runs from 17 March to 20 March 2017 and will see (currently) 25 sour beers on tap during this time. [1] Most are rare, some are brand new and others are down to their last keg in the whole country/world.

That of course makes meaningful tasting notes even more difficult than usual for me to write. This week I attempt to cover the remaining half of the sour beer list but I have drunk exactly one of them (and it was under duress – I am looking at you Te Aro Brewing). [2] Let’s do this thing:

Garage Project Plum Plum Plum (5%) – Going out on a limb here but I think it may have plums in it. Given Garage Project is building an entire new brewery dedicated to sour and barrel aged beers, they are probably very good at this style.

Good George Blueberry Gose (4%) – Blueberries and salt water beer – such a natural combination. Three years ago there were about one and a half Gose style beers in New Zealand. Now, they are everywhere.

North End Blanco (6%) – This beer is what happens when Waikanae and the south of Spain collide. [3] Blanco uses an amazing array of yeasts – Sherry flor, [4] saccharomyces, brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus. It has been aged in barrels that once held Pedro Ximenez sherry, a sherry so famous even I have heard of it. The brewer says Blanco is “elegant, tart, dry and yet also rich, we think Blanco is the perfect tapas beer.” It is also the last keg.

Tuatara Margarita Kettle Sour (5%) – This is new. Tuatara have been making sour beers for over three years now so how they incorporate aspects of this famous cocktail into a sour beer will be intriguing.

Raindogs Blister in the Sun (3.2%) – This is a sour Berliner Weisse with a dash of pomegranate. It also now has the Violent Femmes song of the same name stuck in my head. I hope I get to do Karaoke soon… [5]

International Women’s Collaborative Brew Day Wild Women Sour (5.3%) – International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day (IWCBD) is an annual event held on 8 March to coincide with International Women’s Day. Female brewers from around the world brew the same style of beer to raise awareness of women in brewing, to network and to make fine beers.

Brew Moon Other Side of the Moon Barrel Aged Sour (5%) – I am a long time fan of this North Canterbury brewery, mainly for their wonderful Hophead Pale Ale. However, they have always made a Dark Side of the Moon Stout and this is the barrel aged and soured version. Just typing that makes me want to put on my Pink Floyd t-shirt and defy authority. [6]

Emerson’s Rannin Sour IPA (8.1%) – By my admittedly limited maths, this is the strongest sour beer on offer during Sourfest. It is a sour IPA which apparently tastes strongly of grapefruit.

Emerson’s Saint Wickliffe Lambic (5%) – As far as I can tell, there is no actual Saint Wickliffe. Instead, the beer’s name is a reference to the previous location of the Emerson’s Brewery in Dunedin. This is a tart lambic with notes of apple and cider.

Mussel Inn Tart Giraffe (5%) I was initially confused because I thought “Tart Giraffe” was a registered trademark of Andrew Childs from Behemoth Brewing. He must have let it expire immediately after he met his now wife Hannah… Anyway, this is a mildly sour and quenching ale. I also want to get a copy of the tap badge because giraffes are excellent.

Te Aro Flanders Red (7.6%) – This beer is named after the area in Belgium rather than the character in The Simpsons. [7] It is a red sour ale, not a ripped evangelist. People are always getting mixed up over that issue.

Mike’s Damson in Distress – Damson is a small plum-like fruit of the type never seen in my fridge. It is a bit sharp and astringent, a natural for a sour beer – if you will. Here’s what Ron Trigg had to say;

We harvested the 100kg of Damson plums at Tarata during May 2015, forked them individually and put them into glass carboys with the Gin, as well as some cinnamon sticks, ground nutmeg, whole cloves and a bit of Manuka honey.

We brewed a porter during July 2015 and then laid this in barrels and inoculated the brew with Brettanomyces Bruxellensis.

In January 2017 the plums were removed from the Gin and combined with the beer from the barrels in an open top fermenter, then conditioned, but not filtered.

I’m rather pleased with the result.

Behemoth Im-Peachment – Andrew Childs brewed “Dump the Trump IPA” and, according to my Beltway sources, promptly delivered the United States Presidency to Mr Donald Trump. That was not his intention. Now he is brewing an Impeachment Ale which, on previous form, will undoubtedly assure that President Trump is not impeached – and the beer probably has peaches in it. Honestly, if I was a politician that The Beer Giraffe voted for, I would be worried. [8]

Last week I noted that I was heading off to the historic pink ball cricket match at Westpac Stadium. As it turns out, I was one of about one hundred people to do so (and that is including all the players). My hopes of supping craft beer were instantly dashed at the one food and drink outlet that was open – Tui Lager or Amstel Light. Normal service has resumed…

Next time, we drink to the late Outlaw Ron Bass – the first professional wrestler to genuinely terrify me.

[1] Even since last week there have been two changes with one beer dropping out but another stepping up to fill the breach. Because lord knows we could not just have 22 sour beers on tap at the same time…

[2] The nice fellows at Te Aro would not allow me (another) pale ale until I at least pretended to try their sour beer…

[3] Legal Advisory: This may be the only recorded instance of the south of Spain colliding with Waikanae.

[4] Yeast: Flor (Spanish and Portuguese for flower) is a winemaking term referring to a film of yeast on the surface of wine and which is important in the manufacture of some styles of sherry. Yep – I had to look it up.

[5] Everyone else is hoping I do not.

[6] Some of the profits from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album went into making Monty Python’s movie The Holy Grail. I have a great deal of affection for that film.

[7] “Stupid sexy Flanders.”

[8] Hey big guy, vote for The Opportunist Party!


Neil Miller

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