New Zealand

Fundamentals #51 - 8 Wired iStout Affogato Imperial Stout

I remember the good old days, when beers were beers. I’m talking about 2012 of course, and trying iStout – the revered imperial stout from New Zealand’s 8 Wired – in a quaint Shoreditch bar that is now part of a large chain owned by a well-known Scottish multinational brewery. This was an imperial stout of stature. One that roared with malty molasses and rambunctiously bitter hops. It may have been very expensive at the time, but shared among friends it was a real treat.

We’ve always been lucky to have a small shipment of 8 Wired beers arrive in the UK every so often, all the way from Warkworth, an hour or so’s drive north of Auckland. That’s a very long way for beer to travel. 8 Wired’s hoppy IPAs, such as Hopwired, don’t fare too badly considering the 11,426 mile trip, but its sours and big stouts are not as troubled by this hardship, and so they continue to shine, endearing this brewery to many of us in the process.

I have always admired Kiwi brewers – they live in a country that grows some of the most sensational hop varieties in the world. Adding to this, cities like Auckland and Wellington have embraced them, the latter being one of my favourite beer locales in the world.

However, it’s a challenging market, mostly due to the fact that it’s quite small. At less than 5 million people, New Zealand’s entire population is almost half the size of London alone, so exporting makes sense, despite the distance. In this respect we’re fortunate to see some excellent Kiwi beer in the UK.

I’m equally fortunate today to be reviewing an updated version of 8 Wired’s iStout, this Affogato version with coffee, vanilla and milk sugar lactose. Now, I’m not a huge pastry stout fan – there are some very good examples of the style out there, but they aren’t typically for me. However, after one short sip (immediately leading to a second, deeper gulp), I was relieved to see that this version of iStout has maintained the same rambunctiousness as its predecessor.

Yes, there’s a little caramel sweetness, but this is almost instantly swept aside by an intense hit of espresso – and I’m talking Italian dark roast here, not your delicate third wave gear. This beer has no time for subtlety or nuance, this is an imperial stout just like imperial stouts used to be, albeit one that briefly lulls you into a false sense of security before coming at your palate like a wrecking ball. In a really, really good way.

Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag. Pick up a can of 8 Wired iStout Affogato online or in-store while stocks last, and be first to read Matt’s columns when you sign up to our All Killer No Filler beer subscription box - along with Claire Bullen’s recipe and pairings, plus in-depth tasting notes, they’re included in every box…

Natural Wine Killers: Kindeli Tinto 2018 (New Zealand)

New Zealand as a country certainly knows its way around a high-quality beverage. That’s particularly true in and around Nelson, located at the northern tip of the South Island, where many of the country’s grapes and hops are grown. It’s no accident that that’s also where winemaker Alex Craighead has staked his claim.

Alongside his partner Josefina Venturino, Craighead founded two labels – DON Wines and Kindeli Wines – in Martinborough in 2014. Now based in Nelson’s Moutere Valley, most of the fruit used in his Kindeli range is organically and locally grown on parcels of land that he either owns or leases. Craighead has also partnered with Wellington brewery Garage Project on its beer-wine hybrids.

Craighead uses only indigenous yeasts, and every bottle is unfined and unfiltered, and made without added sulphur. Since its founding, Kindeli has become a darling of the international natty-wine scene: its distinctive (and occasionally controversial) labels, complete with topless foxes, are a fixture on Instagram, and industry figures like Marissa Ross are often seen chugging straight from their bottles. (In a recent piece in Bon Appétit, she describes Kindeli’s wines as “incredible blends from New Zealand [that] were the most staggeringly aromatic and cohesive wines I had all year.”)

Kindeli’s Tinto is the kind of red that’s ideal in the summer months, and that could even do with a bit of chill on it, particularly on hot days. Tinto is made primarily with Pinot Noir grapes, and displays classic, moderate-climate characteristics of red cherry and forest floor and a touch of mushroom. Give it a swirl and a few moments in the glass to encourage its fruit to open up. The wine also features a small quantity of Syrah grapes (as well as an even smaller quantity of Pinot Gris). Their thick skins add some tannic structure and a plummy hue to the wine, plus an extra degree of richness.

Tinto is also made using carbonic maceration, during which whole clusters of grapes are allowed to ferment in a sealed, anaerobic environment before being crushed. The technique is particularly associated with the Beaujolais region, and gives the resulting wine a slight candied, juicy-fruit fragrance and character. Altogether, you’ve got a bottle that’s tremendously drinkable but worth thinking about, too.

Claire’s food pairing: Slow-roasted salmon with fresh herbs and lemon, or barbecued quail with a hoisin-based marinade

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table, is out now and available via our online shop and hopefully at your favourite booksellers. Pick up a bottle of KIndeli Tinto here, and to sign up for our Natural Wine Killers natural wine subscription box, head here.

The Beer Lover's Table: Duck, Blood Orange & Radicchio Salad and 8 Wired Saison Sauvin

Duck salad has long been one of my go-to speedy dinners. Typically, I pair pan-fried duck breast with spinach, caramelised onions, and cherry tomatoes, but it’s an almost infinitely customisable recipe. In this cold-weather iteration, for instance, I opted instead to use vibrant purple radicchio, blood orange segments, balsamic-roasted shallots, and
lemony sorrel (the latter an early signifier of spring). 

What you get is a salad of enormous punch and vigour. The radicchio brings a bass note of bitterness, the blood oranges a dose of acid, the shallots a burnt caramel sweetness and then, of course, the centrepiece duck, crispy of skin and richly gamey. This is no wan, wilting plate of greens, and so it makes sense to pair it with 8 Wired's Saison Sauvin.

This New Zealand saison is a regular in my rotation. Made with, as its name suggests, Nelson Sauvin hops, it's floral and estery on the nose, vinous on the palate and leaves a railing, pithy bitterness in its wake. It’s everything I want from a dinnertime beer: complex enough that you’re tempted to pause after every sip to parse out its tasting notes, but also utterly drinkable. It stands up ably to the salad’s bold flavours, and tastes slightly sweeter besides it.

Just one note of warning: as some industry experts might say, this beer has the potential to be a foamy hello-er, so you may want to open it over the sink and have a glass at the ready!

End-of- Winter Duck, Blood Orange and Radicchio Salad
Serves two

For the salad:
2 duck breasts
Flaky sea salt and black pepper, to taste
4 round shallots
1 Tbs balsamic glaze
100g walnuts
1 head of radicchio
20g sorrel leaves (you can substitute watercress or spinach if preferred)
2 blood oranges

For the dressing:
2 tsp minced ginger
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 Tbs blood orange juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2.5 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Flaky sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. First, prep your duck breasts: dry off using paper towels. With a very sharp knife, lightly score the skin in a crosshatch (without slicing into the meat below); this will help the fat under the skin render out during cooking. Season both sides, generously, with sea salt and black pepper, and set aside, allowing to come to
room temperature if fridge-cold.

Slice your shallots in half, length-wise, and peel. Place cut-sides up on a lined baking sheet and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until softened, fragrant, and starting to caramelise.

Meanwhile, in a small, dry frying pan, toast the walnuts over medium-high heat for approximately 5 minutes, or until darkened and fragrant. Set aside and allow to cool. Roughly chop.

Next, prepare the radicchio and blood oranges. Remove any wilty outer leaves from the radicchio, core it, and then roughly chop it into large pieces. Then, supreme your blood oranges: cut off the ends and then slice off the peel and all of the white pith in long strips. Next, carefully slice out each segment, leaving behind any of the tough membrane. If
you're not familiar with the technique, this is a good visual demonstration.

Now, it's time to prepare the duck. Heat a medium, heavy-bottomed frying pan over high heat until hot. Add the duck breasts skin-side down and cook for approximately 6 minutes; you don't need to add any oil as the fat will render out. As the fat renders, keep a small bowl and a spoon at hand, and spoon out the excess (you can save this for later—it's brilliant on roast potatoes). Check how the skin is doing; once it's deep golden and crisp, flip the breasts over, turn the heat down to medium, and cook for 3-4 more minutes. Remove to a cutting board and let rest for 5-10 minutes. 

As the duck rests, prepare the dressing: add the ginger, vinegar, blood orange juice, mustard, and olive oil to a small bowl and whisk. Season to taste with salt and pepper and whisk again.

To serve, slice the duck thinly. On your plates, arrange the radicchio and sorrel. Top with the blood orange segments and walnuts; roughly separate the shallots and scatter across the salad. Arrange your duck slices over the top, and then pour over the dressing. Season to taste with a bit more salt and pepper.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen, and pick up a bottle of 8 Wired Saison Sauvin in store or online.

#HBBAdvent Beer 15: 8 Wired Saison Sauvin (New Zealand)

8 Wired says: This is a very modern, you might say new world, interpretation of this style. Based on the tradition we have used a Farmhouse yeast, which provides a plethora of funky, earthy, very "Belgian" flavours. From there we have upped the ante a fair bit by doubling the amount of malt, and thereby the alcohol, and loaded the kettle with punchy Nelson Sauvin hops.

We say: Not a lot of people know this (OK, quite a few people know this), but we were not only one of the first places in the country to stock the New Zealand Beer Collective beers, we also launched the Collective itself with a riotous night at the shop back in February 2015. One day we'll recover all of the memories...

Anyway, all "we liked them before they were cool" skiting aside, New Zealand beer still plays an important part in the life of HB&B three years on, and this beautiful saison from 8 Wired has been a firm favourite from the first day we tried it that fateful February. Happy Friday! - Jen

The Beer Lover’s Table: Heirloom Tomato Galettes with Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta Earl Grey IPA

Where I’m from, July means pie season: apple pies, peach pies, and cherry pies, made with freshly picked fruit and crowned with a lattice of crust.

But while I love a traditional summertime pie as much as any other red-blooded American, lately I’ve fallen hard for the pie’s rustic, French cousin.

Meet the galette. If you’ve never made one, know that a galette isn’t just delicious, or photogenic in its own homely way - it’s also fantastically easy to make. Where American pie recipes are full of anxiety about mastering the perfectly flaky crust, galettes give a relaxed, Gallic shrug. After you’ve made your dough (in the food processor: even easier), it’s rolled out in whatever oblong shape comes out. Fillings are dolloped in the centre, and its shaggy-edged dough is folded unevenly over them, so it only covers half of what’s inside.

The result is as low-key as July baking gets. Though you can fill your galette with whichever ingredients are at hand - both sweet and savoury - I’ve opted here for beautifully dappled heirloom tomatoes, which are just coming into season. Paired with basil, whipped goat cheese and a nutty, pistachio-based crust (a favourite recipe of mine, which I’ve borrowed from Bon Appétit), the result is sublimely summery.

With a handful of dried lavender and a drizzle of honey to finish things off, these galettes are also a nod to Gunnamatta, Yeastie Boys Earl Grey IPA. Dry and unbelievably drinkable, yet perfumed with floral notes, it’s one of my very favourites (despite a punishing moment of overindulgence at a karaoke night last year—but let’s not get into that now). With a galette on the side, it’s just the can you should be cracking open at your next picnic.

Heirloom Tomato, Basil, and Whipped Goat Cheese Galettes
Makes 4 individual galettes

For the dough:
Adapted from Bon Appétit
65g raw pistachios
330g all-purpose flour
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp coarse sea salt
225g cold unsalted butter, cubed
110ml ice water
Additional flour, for rolling

Add the pistachios to your food processor. Pulse until they’re semi-finely ground, and no large pieces remain (you’ll likely need to pause and scrape down the bowl once or twice).

When they’re uniformly ground, add the flour, sugar, and sea salt, and blend until the mixture is evenly combined. Add the cubed butter and pulse until the mix resembles coarse meal. Then, with the motor running at a low speed, pour in the ice water in a steady stream until the dough just comes together.

Remove the dough from the food processor - it will be relatively sticky, so flouring your hands and work surface is advised - and divide into two even pieces. Pat each piece into a flattened circle, wrap with cling-film, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

For the whipped goat cheese:
250g soft (rindless) goat cheese, room temperature
75ml double cream, room temperature
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Add all ingredients to a food processor. Blend, pausing to scrape down the sides of the processor with a spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Set aside.

For the galettes:
1 ½ tbs olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
Galette dough
Whipped goat cheese
4 medium-sized heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 egg, beaten
1 handful cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch basil leaves, torn
1 tsp dried lavender
Chile-infused honey, to taste (can substitute regular honey)
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Flaky sea salt, to taste

In a frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for approximately 10 minutes, or until it’s fully softened and beginning to darken and caramelise. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.

Ensure your work surface and rolling pin are well floured. Remove one of the two rounds of dough from the fridge and unwrap. Divide it into two equal pieces. Roll one out using the rolling pin until it’s approximately 1/8-inch thick, or approximately 9-10 inches wide. Transfer the dough to one of the baking sheets, placing it as close to one end as possible (you will need to fit two galettes on each baking sheet). Repeat with the second piece of dough on the second baking sheet.

In the middle of each piece of dough, dollop ¼ of the whipped goat cheese mixture, spreading with the back of a spoon until evenly distributed, and leaving approximately one inch of dough around the edge. On top of the goat cheese mix, add roughly one-quarter of the onions and one-quarter of the heirloom tomato slices. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and fold the edges of the dough over the tomato mixture (the edges will overlap each other; don’t stress too much about the appearance). Using a baking brush, coat the edges of the crust with the beaten egg mixture.

Repeat this process with the second round of dough; you will have four galettes in total. Do be certain to construct the galettes on the baking sheets themselves; if you try to add the toppings while they’re on the counter, they will be fragile and very difficult to transfer.

Bake the galettes for between 30-40 minutes, pausing to rotate the baking sheets halfway through, or until the crust is golden-browned, the tomatoes are roasted, and the mixture is bubbling beautifully. Leave them for a few minutes, as they’ll be mouth-scaldingly molten straight out of the oven.

When ready to serve, top each galette with some halved cherry tomatoes, torn basil leaves, ¼ tsp of lavender, a drizzle of honey, a drizzle of olive oil, and more flaky sea salt to taste.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. Pick up Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta or at our online shop

No More Heroes XXXIV – Hop Federation Coffee Stout

I’m writing this week’s penultimate episode of No More Heroes from New Zealand, so it’s apt that this week’s beer is of Kiwi origin. I say penultimate because we’ve decided to rest this column in favour of something fresh, new and “educational” that’ll be arriving on your in front of your faces in just a few weeks' time.

Coffee is becoming an increasingly prevalent adjunct in craft beer and not just in the more obvious coffee-infused dark beers like the one I’m reviewing today. It’s also ably used in pale ales, red ales and even dry-hopped sour beers. As an ingredient, coffee can be as versatile as malt or hops, with the ability to impart flavours on a spectrum that ranges from roasted and chocolate through to floral and even herbal.

But just like hops, coffee is an extremely volatile ingredient, with the flavours it imparts dissipating quickly. So unless you’re not particularly fond of coffee, don’t hang on to beers that use it, drink them quickly before that flavour disappears.

Hop Federation, which is based in Riwaka at the top of the South Island (also in New Zealand’s famous hop growing region), uses coffee in one of the most obvious senses in this stout. It adds a serious amount of roast and poke to the herbaceous, gooseberry-tinged notes provided by the hops. This combination of ingredients binds to form a robustly satisfying and moreish beer that drinks easy despite its weighty 7% ABV.

The good news is that, thanks to the folks at Hop Burns & Black shipping it over to the UK, you don’t have to travel to New Zealand like I did to enjoy it yourself. Just make sure you drink it fresh.

Music Pairing: The Fall – Totally Wired
As well as cramming in heaps of flavour (Christ, I’ve been here 5 minutes and I’m already using the lingo), the Hop Federation Coffee Stout packs in a serious amount of caffeine. These days I’m as a much a third-wave coffee junkie as I am a craft beer enthusiast and I’m confident in my ability to chain several strong coffees in the morning. In fact, it’s a necessity.

However after 500ml of this particular beer I was buzzing. In fact you could say I was totally wired, which is as good an excuse as any to bring out this absolute belter of a record from Mark. E. Smith and the gang. Just remember: You don’t have to be weird to be wired (although take it from me, it helps).

Find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total AlesGood Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. You can find the roasty, toasty glory that is the Hop Federation Coffee Stout and more from the Hop Federation range exclusive at HB&B - get it in store or head online to get it delivered to your door.

No More Heroes XXXI – Panhead Grease Monkey Old Ale

I’ll admit I struggle a little this time of year. The last dregs of the Christmas holidays have trickled down the drain and it can feel like there’s little other to look forward to than long nights and cold days. Winter is here.

While I applaud those folks who take it upon themselves to take the month off booze – some even raising money for charity, which is no bad thing – for the rest of us there is always beer. Delicious, tasty beer. Now is the time to break out those strong dark ales that have been squirreled away at the back of your beer cupboard for far too long. I’m starting with Grease Monkey, an old ale from New Zealand’s Panhead Custom Ales.

A great deal was made of Panhead’s sale to the Lion Group last year, but in my opinion it’s had zero discernable impact on the quality of its beers thus far. Its zingy, tropical fruit packed New Zealand hopped pilsner has always been a particular favourite of mine and it continues to shine.

Grease Monkey is an altogether different beast, however. This viscous, black liquid pours like an oil slick in a glass. Aromas of leather and tobacco mingle with those of molasses and burnt muscovado sugar. To taste it's toffee sweet at first but this is almost immediately followed by a slick wave of herbaceous bitterness. That tobacco note then returns in the finish to leave a pleasing dryness.

Grease Monkey is a beer that really benefits from having some time to warm a little and open up once its been poured. So maybe try giving it no more than 30 minutes in the fridge before you open it and for maximum effect pour it into a wide brimmed, bowl shaped glass. You won’t be halfway through the bottle before any winter blues you were shouldering begin to ebb away.

Music Pairing: Flyying Colours – It’s Tomorrow Now
I figured that as it’s a new year I’d turn the spotlight onto to some new music instead of relying on a classic. Spotify’s insanely good Discover Weekly algorithm has been throwing some great new music my way over the last 12 months, so it makes sense to share some of my discoveries.

Flyying Colours formed in Melbourne, Australia, back in 2011 and released their second album “Mindfullness” at the back end of last year. As a record it’s a reverb-drenched, shoegazer's dream, recalling My Bloody Valentine, And You Will Know Them By The Trail of Dead and The Cure. I’ve had the album on repeat for around the last two weeks, so here’s hoping you dig it as much as I do.

Find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total AlesGood Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Get Panhead Grease Monkey and the rest of the Panhead range exclusively to the UK at our shop or online to get it delivered to your door.

#HBBAdvent Beer 22: 8 Wired Hippy Berliner (New Zealand)

8 Wired says: A refreshing, light, hoppy, sour and very fruity tasting ale inspired by traditional Berliner Weisse ales. Naturally soured by live cultures and dry hopped with American and New Zealand hops. Probably the closest thing I have tasted to fruit juice, that didn't contain any fruit at all! - It's a trip! Peace out.

We say: 8 Wired is hands down one of our very favourite breweries, let alone one of our favourite New Zealand breweries. Brewer Soren Eriksson knows how to make a beer, and he's especially adept with sours. (Check out his Wild Feijoa Sour for a master class in the art.) Hippy Berliner is a supremely drinkable sour for any time of day or year. We hope you love it as much as we do. - Glenn

Each night, we'll reveal the day's hand-picked beer from our Big Beery Advent Calendar. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter or Instagram (#HBBAdvent). Pick up a bottle or five of 8 Wired Hippy Berliner in store or via our online shop.

#HBBAdvent Beer 20: Yeastie Boys White Noise White Ale (New Zealand)

Yeastie Boys says: A quaffable, cloudy white ale that is perfect for those afternoon sessions after a hard day's work or play. Pours a cloudy pale straw colour with a dense mousse-like white head. A perfumy coconut and vanilla note on the nose, with a little citrus and spice, and bready grains from the wheat. The mouthfeel is full for such a pale beer, but still very light and elegant. The beer finishes with a cleansing acidity, a faint spicy note and only the mildest touch of citrus from the virtually non-existent hops.

We say: For today's advent choice, we ummed and ahhed about including Rex Attitude, the peated ale that has seen more hate mail sent to the brewery than any other. However, we decided to play it safe and opt for this very drinkable white beer. Imagine you're smashing this on a hot Antipodean summer day. - Jen

Each night, we'll reveal the day's hand-picked beer from our Big Beery Advent Calendar. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter or Instagram (#HBBAdvent). Yeastie Boys White Noise is available in store or via our online shop.

#HBBAdvent Beer 18: Panhead Black Top Oat Stout (New Zealand) / Weird Beard Black Christmas Cranberry Stout (London)

Such was the demand for this year's #HBBAdvent calendar that we completely failed to anticipate demand - three cases of Panhead Black Top Oat Stout was nowhere near enough! Thus, quite a few of you will find Weird Beard Black Christmas in your box - an enviable substitute.

Panhead Custom Ales says: As self-confessed bogans we have a natural attraction to black, preferably matte, so Blacktop Oatmeal is close to our hearts. The key to creating a silky death metal monster like this is the caramelised Golden Naked Oats we’ve built it around. Sophisticates will detect the chocolate and coffee notes of creamy tiramisu. The rest of us will note that it matches our jeans.

Weird Beard says: A festive stout with subtle roast character that plays well with fruity and slightly tart notes from the cranberry. Sorachi Ace hops, which there are plenty of in this beer, gives hints of vanilla and coconut.

We say: Two beers, two of our favourite breweries. We wanted to go to the dark side for the Sunday before Christmas (nothing sinister, just that the last few advent beers were pales so it was time for some stouty goodness). One beer channels the spirit of the Antipodean Westie (aka the hard rock-loving, car-obsessed bogan of Kiwi lore), the other channels the spirit of West London. Both perfect for Sunday night sipping. - Jen

Each night, we'll reveal the day's hand-picked beer from our Big Beery Advent Calendar. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter or Instagram (#HBBAdvent). Find Weird Beard Black Christmas and the Panhead range (exclusive to HB&B) in store or via our online shop while stocks last.

#HBBAdvent Beer 5: Siren Craft Brew/Garage Project Blacklight Banana Imperial Stout (Finchamstead/New Zealand)

Siren/Garage Project says: For this year’s Rainbow Project collaboration with Garage Project we drew the colour indigo. After much research on both sides the idea that excited us all most was that of the Blacklight Banana. Ripe bananas uniquely glow bright indigo under UV lights, one possible reason for this being that it identifies them as a food source for animals that see in the UV range, like bats. Molasses, caramelised bananas, banana purée and bourbon barrel aged coffee beans elevate this beer to something special.

We say: We always look forward to Rainbow Day, where the collaborative efforts of the seven participating UK breweries and their international counterparts are released. The 2016 project had special interest to us as it featured seven (or six, as it transpired this year) New Zealand breweries, including Garage Project, probably the most hyped Kiwi brewery never to make it to UK shelves. Jos and his team are doing exceptional things in the Aro Valley, as we discovered during an infamous 22-beer tasting session when we were back in January, and we can't wait until they decide to export over here. In the meantime, this lush impy stout, brewed with Siren, helps to ease the pain of Garage Project's absence. And who said you can't drink a 9.2% stout on a Monday? You've earned this. - Jen

Each night, we'll reveal the day's hand-picked beer from our Big Beery Advent Calendar. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter or Instagram (#HBBAdvent). Find Blacklight Banana in store or via our online shop.

No More Heroes XXV – Tuatara Sauvinova

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.

No More Heroes XXI – Townshend’s Flemish Stout

The first thing I remember about my early beer experiences in New Zealand is the ubiquitous New Zealand Draught. This solid, yet simple variety of draught beer from brands such as Tui, Speight’s and Lion is the first thing folks might think of when it comes to NZ beer. However, it didn’t take me long to discover that there’s much more to Kiwi beer than NZ draught. In fact, New Zealand is home to one of the most eclectic and accomplished craft brewing communities in the world.

If you’re into your Kiwi craft beer you might have heard of brands such as Tuatara, Yeastie Boys and Garage Project, perhaps even some exciting up and coming brewers (and one of my personal favourites) such as Liberty Brew Co. Today’s beer is from one of what I would call a lesser known NZ brewer, but he’s certainly no less accomplished than the ones I’ve already mentioned.

Martin Townshend founded the brewery that shares his name back in 2005, right in the heart of NZ hop country, near the town of Nelson, at the northernmost tip of the South Island. Townshend’s Flemish Stout is a limited release beer and combines the malty girth of an imperial stout, all dark chocolate and roasted coffee, with the tangy, lactic acidity of a Flemish Red such as Rodenbach Grand Cru.

It might sound a little bonkers, but that’s because it is and perhaps the most remarkable thing is that the gentle acidity does an admirable job of disguising the 9% ABV. It’s a beer to be taken in small sips, accompanied by giant slabs of strong cheese. Hop Burns and Black might well be carrying the best range of NZ beers in the UK at the moment, and this is one that’s not to be missed.

Music Pairing: Plastic Bertrand, Ca Plane Pour Moi
It would’ve been easy to recommend some excellent Kiwi music to pair with this excellent Kiwi beer, but we picked NZ band Th’ Dudes in our previous installment, so that would hardly be fair. Instead why not enjoy this bonkers sour stout with a Belgian twist by listening to a frankly bonkers Belgian. Ladies and gentlemen, Plastic Bertrand.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total Ales, and Good Beer Hunting, and on Twitter @totalcurtis. And you can get Townshend's Flemish Stout exclusively in the UK from HB&B, delivered to your door via our online shop.

All your Kiwi beer are belong to us

Our trip back to New Zealand at the start of this year was a revelation - although not at all a surprise - at just how incredible the beer scene there has become. It’s long been known for its quality and creativity, but we believe 2016 is the year the Kiwi craft beer scene goes stratospheric on a global scale.

We’ve a natural inclination to all things Antipodean, and as such we’ve prided ourselves on having the UK’s best and widest range of New Zealand craft beers since we opened our doors in 2014. The chance to give Kiwi beers (and ciders) even more shelf space was irresistible.

Arriving early June are a range of amazing beers and ciders never before seen in the UK, many of which will be exclusive to Hop Burns & Black, with some also destined for our good friends at East London’s finest taproom and bottle shop empire Mother Kelly’s. It’s not a huge shipment, but oh my word, it’s a good shipment, containing the best beverages we tasted during our travels.

 

Wellington represent
From New Zealand’s capital city Wellington, we’re bringing over amazing beers from Panhead Custom Ales, Parrotdog and Kereru Brewing.

The names Panhead and Parrotdog will be familiar to craft aficionados as two of the seven incredible NZ breweries who’ll be participating in this year’s Rainbow Project. Their hop-forward beers showcase the very best of New Zealand hops and they’ve rightly won stacks of awards, not least Parrotdog winning Champion International Small Brewery at the Australian Beer Awards 2015 and Panhead taking home the SOBA Award for Best New Zealand Beer 2015 for their glorious Supercharger APA. (That's us celebrating the news with Panhead head brewer Mike Neilson above.)

Kereru Brewing you may not be so familiar with, but it’s a name you’ll want to remember. Brewing next door to Panhead in Upper Hutt, we fell head over heels in love with Kereru’s Imperial Nibs porter made with cacao nibs, vanilla and coconut - and we weren’t alone. This beer won Best In Class at the New World Beer & Wine Awards 2016, so now the secret is most definitely out.

 

Nelson, home of hops
We also visited Jen’s hometown Nelson - home to the world’s best hops - and it was here we encountered Townshend Brewing, Hop Federation and Peckham’s Cider.

Martin Townshend is a mad magician of beer and beat the big boys when his brewery, Townshend Brewing - which he still runs out of a shed in his backyard - was named Champion New Zealand Brewery at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards 2014. His remarkable Flemish Stout is as good, if not better, than anything coming out of Belgium, as is his Belgian Tripel.

Hop Federation, based in Riwaka, makes the most of its location to celebrate the hops on its doorstep, with clean, fresh beers that are bursting with flavour. We’ve chosen to bring over three of their beers we feel showcase those glorious Nelson hops best - IIPA, Red IPA and Weewaka.

Last but not least, Peckham’s Cider was set up by two English ex-pats, Alex and Caroline Peckham, in an idyllic Nelson setting. They grow 30 different types of cider apples and make proper English-style cider on their orchard, winning Champion Cider at the 2015 Fruit Wine and Cider Makers Association awards. We loved their cider so much that we’re bringing over no fewer than five different varieties. We have a feeling the name will go down well round our way too…

 

We’re just so excited about the bounty of beautiful beer about to land on these shores. We had such a great time meeting these brewers and tasting their wares, and are stoked we can now share the experience. You’ll be able to buy all of the new New Zealand beers in store or via our online shop, shop.hopburnsblack.co.uk, while stocks last. We’ll sound the great big Kiwi Klaxon when it’s arrived.

New Zealand beers - we've got 'em...

So many of you have tweeted or emailed us asking for a list of the NZ beers that came in this week. Now that the hangovers from the NZ Beer Collective 1st anniversary party have cleared (or we're still drunk - the jury is out), we can finally type out the list. ;)

8 Wired Brewing:

  • Sour Side of The Moon - barrel-aged sour dark ale
  • Wild Feijoa Sour - ale brewed with feijoas and aged in wine barrels
  • Batch 2.18 - Oak-aged imperial stout fermented in open vats with dates, jaggery and vanilla beans
  • Tropidelic - hop-packed NZPA now on flagon fill
  • Super Dank IPA - the clue's in the name. Coming soon on flagon-fill.

Yeastie Boys:

  • I AM - totally awesome extra pale ale
  • PKB Remix Dark Matta - Pot Kettle Black with added Earl Grey 
  • Rex Attitude - peat-smoked strong golden ale
  • xeRRex - imperial Rex Attitude
  • Her Majesty 2014 - DIPA
  • His Majesty 2014 - triple stout porter
  • Her Majesty 2015 - blood red ale
  • His Majesty 2015 - red oat ale

Tuatara:

  • Black Mojo Espresso - limited edition unfiltered espresso coffee stout with Mojo Coffee
  • Black Chocolate Stout - limited edition unfiltered chocolate stout with the Wellington Chocolate Factory

Renaissance:

  • Collision Course IPA - India Pale Lager jam-packed with Citra, Mosaic & Nelson Sauvin
  • Craftsman Oatmeal Chocolate Stout - creamy as, and coming soon on flagon-fill...

A New Zealand beer odyssey

Glenn and I were lucky enough to undertake a little Down Under beer odyssey in January, when we returned to the country where we spent our formative years. The New Zealand beer scene is going from strength to strength and we've felt extremely privileged to have been able to play a part in its quest for world domination.

In the few years since we moved back to the UK, the NZ scene has exploded, so our trip was a journey of discovery in many ways. We were fortunate to meet with nine of the top Kiwi brewers during our travels (plus the NZ champion cider makers, also doing great things - more on that later) and we can confirm that the hype is 100% justified. We were astounded at the quality and consistency of New Zealand beer - at the most remote of back-blocks supermarkets we managed to find super-fresh beer from the best breweries, and not once did we have a beer that was old or under-par.

It's currently a very US-led scene, with a mad drive for hops and big, punchy IPAs (it was a challenge to find too many dark options on tap in most places we visited), but some breweries are starting to shake this up - Garage Project and 2014 NZ Champion Brewery Townshend's are two doing some very interesting things indeed.

Anyway, we loved the beers we tasted so much that we had to buy extra suitcases and spend a fortune on excess baggage to lug loads back. We enjoyed many of these at a small tasting event last night - a trial run for our new monthly events, Hop Burns & Bottle Share, which will launch in March. (More details coming soon.)

We're hopeful we'll be able to bring over some of these beers in the very near future for you to try, so keep watching the skies for news on when they land. [Spoiler alert, before you ask: no Garage Project.] In the meantime, here are some of the hits from last night.

Townshend's Flemish Stout - widely agreed by guests to be the beer of the night. A stunning example of a tart but not sour chocolatey, cherry stout. Also on the menu were two others from Townshend's - an excellent Belgian Tripel and Wynne's Fall, a collaboration with Stu McKinlay from Yeastie Boys, named after Stu's mum. One for the cider fans, this malty beer features 50% windfall apple juice.

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Kereru Brewing For Great Justice Coconut Porter and Imperial Nibs - Not too widely known outside of New Zealand, Kereru Brewing's beers were the surprise hit of the tasting. We'd had the heads up from Yeastie Stu that the Coconut Porter was one to look out for - however this tasty drop was outgunned by its imperial cousin, which upped the cacao content to create a sumptuously rich beverage. Would drink this for dessert every night, given the chance. Also enjoyed was Kereru's Karengose Salty Seaweed Ale, brewed with native NZ karengo seaweed.

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Panhead Canheads - A great example of the breadth and quality of New Zealand beer distribution. Glenn picked these up at a New World supermarket in Kerikeri, a small town in the Far North of New Zealand, and they're tasting superb. Hard to pick a winner from the three we tried - the Oaked Stout, Red IPA and glorious Hopfenweisse - and how awesome are the can designs? We were blown away by everything we tried from Panhead during our trip, and it helps that the brewer, Mike Neilson, is a bloody nice dude to boot. Look out for Panhead at this year's Rainbow Project, where they'll be collaborating with London's own Partizan Brewing.

Parrotdog Rarebird Series - Parrotdog are another NZ brewery coming over for this year's Rainbow Project, partnered with Beavertown, which should make for some interesting collabs indeed. We absolutely loved these two small batch beers - a Tamarillo Sour and a Dunkelweisse - and just look at the beautiful, beautiful bottles.

Speaking of beautiful bottles...

Garage Project.  The most hyped of all the New Zealand breweries and fully deserving of such. We were lucky enough to enjoy a superb selection of their beers - from the weird and wonderful (La Calavera Catrina - a habanero chilli, rosewater and watermelon lager, anyone?) to their famed hop bombs such as Pernicious Weed and new favourites Whizz Bang and Dirty Boots. They're all bloody amazing. Fingers crossed they can increase production and get their beers over here soon.

Last but not least - Hop Federation and Fork & Brewer. Nestled smack bang in the middle of Nelson hop country (my home town), Hop Federation are a relatively new brewery doing lovely things that celebrate their local product. We enjoyed their Double IPA and Red IPA so much that we totally forgot to take any photos - likewise with Fork & Brewer's award-winning Godzone Beat Champion Pale Ale from Kelly Ryan, the nicest guy in brewing. Sorry about that. Too many beers will do that to a person...

So that's our story. As mentioned, look out for a shipment of at least some of the great beers mentioned above heading our way soon. And stand by for new beers from some of the great New Zealand breweries we already stock - Tuatara, Yeastie Boys and 8 Wired - hitting the shop next week. Good beers guaranteed.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 17: Renaissance Stonecutter Scotch Ale, 7% (New Zealand)

Each night at 8pm, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Renaissance says:  "Multi award winning Stonecutter Scotch Ale is the big, hearty, ‘red wine’ of our range. The Scotch Ale style is believed to have originated in Edinburgh in the 18th century and is colloquially known as "wee heavy" due to its higher strength than its paler siblings. We use nine malts blended together to produce layers of caramel, toffee, liquorice, chocolate and roasty flavours. These layers are balanced by a tart, raisiny fruitiness that gradually gives way to give this dark beer a lingering dry finish. Rich, full bodied, warming and moreish."

We say: We could rave on about this beautiful beer for ages but beer writer Matthew Curtis pretty much summed it up in his recent blog for us. It's an ideal beer for these dreary days - pair it with a hearty stew or a roast for the ultimate comfort food.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 15: Stone & Wood Pacific Pale Ale,

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Each night, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Stone & Wood says: "Inspired by our home on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and brewed using all Australian barley, wheat and Galaxy hops, Pacific Ale is cloudy and golden with a big fruity aroma and a refreshing finish. After being dry hopped at the end of fermentation, our Pacific Ale is then drawn straight from the storage tank at the brewery into kegs and bottles. Drawing it from the tank and straight into a keg or bottle without filtering means that the beer can be enjoyed at the pub or at home in the same condition as it is when we try it from the tank at the brewery … simply fresh."

We say: This is the taste of Australia in a bottle. The good bits, that is - the beach, the sunshine, the big blue skies, not the snakes, spiders and yobbos drinking dodgy lager. Just kidding, Australia. A great escape on this wet and nasty London evening.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 12: Tuatara Sauvinova Single Hop Pale Ale, 5.2% (New Zealand)

Each night at 8pm, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Tuatara says: "Kiwis are notorious for developing an enthusiasm for local commodities only after a thumbs up from the more discerning parts of the world. In the case of Nelson Sauvin hops we think that’s a little unfair. Tuatara and Sauvin were released into the world at about the same time so we knew them back in the day. We’re celebrating with Sauvinova, a single hop pale ale exploding with the distinctive tropical gooseberry notes that made its Sauvignon Blanc namesake famous. Tasting Notes: Full malt body copiously hopped with Nelson Sauvin displaying mouthwatering gooseberry, pineapple and grapefruit flavours. Balanced bitterness."

We say: Another stunner from the Tuatara crowd. Tuatara is one of the five breweries that make up the NZ Beer Collective, and with their stablemates they've helped us build our much-treasured reputation for the best NZ beer selection in the UK. This is a fabulous showcase for the mighty Nelson Sauvin hop, hailing from Jen's Kiwi hometown and lauded all over the world. Dankly resinous, this pale positively bursts with flavour and - along with the "air-hopped" Conehead IPA, is our favourite Tuatara brew.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 1: Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta IPA, 6.5% (New Zealand)

Each night at 8pm, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Yeastie Boys says: "A modern cult classic inspired by the Pale Ales that travelled from England to the East Indies and, perhaps more importantly, all that precious tea that returned on those same ships. This beer utilises judicious amounts of Earl Grey Blue Flower tea to generate an intoxicating floral and citrus aroma with the quenching dry finish of an ice tea. A truly unique new world India Pale Ale with a decidedly old world twist."

We say: Yeastie Boys and HB&B go all the way back to 2011, when Jen first tweeted that the Yeasties’ new Rex Attitude peated ale was like “tonguing your granddad”. (Disclaimer: We love this brewery so much we bought shares in the company.) Gunnamatta is an HB&B icon, consistently sitting at #11 in our best-selling beers list, something that irritates their head brewer no end. Now being brewed right here in the UK, this delicately perfumed IPA with a big Kiwi hop punch will sort your Tuesday (or any day) out right.