Not content with premiering an ale that is already, days out, making me drool dangerously onto my keyboard, there will also be a showcase of five other Te Aro brews and, in a genius marketing move that gets me almost as excited as the arrival of a new Double IPA, Te Aro Brewing are bringing their famous retro Double Dragon video game machine – a true classic from my youth.

I will have (a lot) more to say about Double Dragon the Game later in the blog but first it is obligatory to talk about the event, the brewery, the supporting beers and Double Dragon the Beer. [1] The Double Dragon IIPA Launch is being held at Malthouse on Friday 29 September 2017 from 5pm.

Te Aro Brewing Company started small – think really small [2] – in 2014. It was created by Stewart Gebbie and Karl Hayes, the brewer. Unsurprisingly, it began in Te Aro, brewing behind the Brewtopia home brew shop there. Because this is Wellington I had unsurprisingly met Karl before, though, and this is the surprising part, we met in a non-beer related context. We were both guests at a decidedly non-beer work function.

Despite that, we did talk about beer – my writing and his home brewing. It was therefore fantastic, years later, to visit his brewery and try his excellent range. Twas the beer circle of life indeed. Te Aro Brewing Company eventually outgrew its Te Aro premises and has moved to far more spacious accommodation in Upper Hutt. Seven years ago the concept of setting up a craft brewery in Upper Hutt would have been almost laughable. Now it is a trend.

Here is what I recently wrote for an Australian magazine:

For many years the Hutt Valley endured the reputation as a place craft beer did not go. Today, there is legitimate talk of an Upper Hutt Brewing Hub with four craft breweries up and running. They are Panhead which is famed for its automotive themed brews, Kereru who pioneered the use wood fired toasted coconut in their porter, Te Aro Brewing which out grew its origins in central city Te Aro, and newcomer Boneface steered by the experienced Matt Dainty.”

The situation in Upper Hutt – which also hosts the Greater Wellington Brewday Festival – is so positive that I have even said a number of nice things about the Upper Hutt City Council. They are doing a fantastic job to attract and support brewers and bars. Other councils could learn a lot from them. By other councils I mean virtually every other council in the country.

Here are the Te Aro beers on tap from this Friday until they run out:

Te Aro Robber’s Dog Sour Cherry Gose (3.2%): The brewers describe this as “a refreshing Gose, kettle soured, with pink Himalayan salt, sour cherries plus a little hit of raspberries for colour. Very pretty and ultra quaffable.” I will have to take them at their word as I will not be taking a sip far less a quaff. Sour, salt and berries are not really my bag, baby.

Te Aro Grapefruit IPA (6.3%): I totally did not expect pale ales made with grapefruit to be “my bag” but I was mistaken. This style has really grown me probably because it is tart and bitter rather than sweet or sour. The Te Aro version is described as “a strong IPA showcasing Gladfield malts and US hops with grapefruit zest and juice. There is intense yet balanced full bodied sweet toffee malt with bitter tart fruitiness.” I have had this, loved it, and fully intend to have it again at the launch. [3]

Te Aro Obligatory New Zealand Pale Ale (4.9%): When I visited the old brewery I had several pints of this well and truly in the shadow of the tanks. I joked that it seemed “obligatory” to drink and Karl laughed even though he must hear that same joke dozens of times a day. The beer was delicious – a touch of caramel, a firm malt superstructure lovingly overlaid with notes of orange and passionfruit from the hops.

However, the one at the Malthouse this Friday is going to be even better as it is the rare Cone Hop version. It is basically the same beer with the same Gladfield malts, but with a roaring injection of fresh New Zealand Cascade, Nelson Sauvin, Motueka and Pacific Jade hops. I predict this one will not last long, particularly if you arrive after me.

Te Aro 7 of Diamonds NZ Pale Ale (4.3%): For those more restrained than me – which is pretty much everyone – there is 7 of Diamonds. [4] The brewers describe it as “a sessionable pale ale with a zesty lime and gooseberry aroma.  Additional flavours of tropical fruit balance the sweetness from Gladfield American ale, medium crystal and toffee malts.” They should know as they made it and actually have drunk it.

Te Aro Dragon American Pale Ale (5.7%): One of their flagship beers, Dragon is a firm favourite of mine. It has notes of orange, pine, caramel, and a bowl of tropical fruit salad. Now this is what I call quaffable, not that Gose nonsense.

The star of the show is Te Aro Double Dragon IIPA (8%). As the name suggests it is a more powerful version of the classic Dragon APA. More hops, more bitterness, and more alcohol – how could it get any better?

Well, only if it was launched alongside a classic Double Dragon arcade game. By classic I mean one that came in a big wooden cabinet and needed to be fed all your pocket money on a weekly basis. Released in 1987, Double Dragon is considered by many to be the game that popularised the “beat em up” genre which became so pervasive. The plot sees two brothers (it is best played co-operatively) fight an evil gang in order to retrieve a kidnapped girlfriend.

Our heroes can punch, kick, jump, hold, throw and use stolen weapons against bad guys who get tougher with each level. However, the true key to the game is the back elbow. It does the most damage, is hard to avoid and, if executed correctly, the enemy is powerless to respond. Master the back elbow and you master the Double Dragon.

I only know this because as a youth I worked in video shop which had virtually no customers but did have a Double Dragon machine. I also had the machine key and could rack up free credits for me and my friends. Te Aro is taking a similar approach with the game free to play at Malty. They have taken it one step further by offering a 20c rebate for each Double Dragon IIPA purchased – a delicious reversal of roles. We shall see if my old gaming mastery returns on Friday. [5]

Next time, we drink to Winston Peters who has vowed to end the “mirage and facade” in the coalition negotiations. He then refused to comment 345 times. Things are much clearer now.

[1] This sentence contains a very clever pun which will only become evident later in the article or if you have consumed Te Aro beers before.

[2] I know you can think really small but trust me this was smaller. (I am expecting a letter from Pete Brown’s lawyers shortly for that flagrant rip off of his greatest footnote.)

[3] On the slim chance I do not just order Double Dragon IIPA… particularly with the rebate that readers will find out about later in the blog. Until then, you gotta read on McDuff! (I am expecting a letter from Canadian beer blogger Don Redmond’s lawyers shortly for that flagrant rip off of his greatest catchphrase.)

[4] 7 of Diamonds has been described as the “Millionaire’s Card.” Unfortunately, it was described as such by the Aquarian Age Cards of Destiny. I would not put too much money on this.

[5] No laughing when I get killed by the initial and by far the wimpiest villain – Williams – on my first go.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

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