The memory of my first experience drinking Tuatara beer is crystal clear. It was early 2014 and I was staying with family in the town of Whangamata, near the Coromandel, on New Zealand’s North Island. I’d been without a gloriously hoppy beer for several days, having only had ubiquitous “NZ Draught” beers such as Lion Red and Double Brown available to me where we were originally staying. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these beers, other than they taste of very little, and by this point I was desperate for something more.
I headed into Whangamata Town to find something more interesting, and picked up a 12-pack of Tuatara’s Aotearoa Pale Ale, as it was the most interesting thing I could find in the bottle shop. New Zealand takes cold beer seriously - the liquor store I made my purchase from had a walk-in cold room where it stored its beer - so when I got back to our apartment the beer was already nicely chilled. I opened the box to find 12 shining lizard eyes printed on the bottle caps staring up at me. I pulled a bottle out, with ridges that model those of New Zealand's native Tuatara lizard, and cracked the top.
Few breweries have the time or resources to invest in custom bottles like these and I feared that this beer might be all style over substance. I was wrong. Aotearoa was singing with the gooseberry and passion fruit flavours of New Zealand hops. At the time it felt like the beer I had been searching for my entire life.
Today’s beer, the single-hopped Sauvinova, focuses the intense flavours of the Nelson Sauvin hop into a vibrant pale ale. The tropical and gooseberry flavours are defined in a manner that makes it easy to see why this hop took its name from the Sauvignon grapes that made New Zealand wines famous. This beer is definitely one to try, whether you're just a fan of your hop-forward pale ales, or if you’re a wine lover that’s looking for a little more complexity in your beer.
Music Pairing – Oasis: Champagne Supernova
If you weren’t at Hop Burns & Black for the latest installment of our No More Heroes live events, Manchester, So Much To Answer For, then you missed a treat. Not only did we taste through six excellent beers selected by Marble’s Head Brewer James Kemp, but we also played some of our favourite tracks by Manchester bands.
Today sees the start of IndyManBeerCon, one of my absolute favourite beer festivals. As you read this I’ll be on the train to Manchester to get involved. As a young music lover, I played a lot of Oasis, but the older I got the more I fell out with their seemingly Beatles obsessed shtick. I recently returned to their first two albums and wondered why it took me so long to listen to them again. This track, from 1995’s What’s The Story (Morning Glory) is an anthem that sits neatly alongside the euphoric New Zealand hop aromas in this week's beer.
You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at the excellent beer blog, Total Ales, and Good Beer Hunting, and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up a bottle (or more) of Tuatara Sauvinova Single-Hopped Pale Ale via our online shop and get it delivered to your door.