Day 3 – Beers of Auckland – Hot Water Brewing Barley Wine

LumsdenAs I think about how to track down Auckland brewed craft beer on tap I am finding it not as easy as I thought. Tonight I attended an event at The Lumsden and found that they have a South Island tap takeover. (pretty cool story. Evan the owner of the Lumsden Freehouse, headed to the South Island, rented a re-location Camper Van for $5 a day, and spent a week traveling around the South Island visiting craft breweries and picking up kegs, and putting them in the back of the camper van. The trip was called Lumsden to Lumsden. Check out their twitter, follow them if you aren’t. If you live in Auckland you should visit the Lumsden right now as there are beers from the South Island you won’t see in Auckland again on tap).

So I arrive and find there aren’t any beers on tap. Boo. (well boo for this Advent Calendar Boo, not for the cool selection of beers we don’t normally see here in Auckland).  Next I check out the bottled beer list. All I see is Epic (I have this as back up beer for the days I really get stuck on the Advent Calendar), Liberty & Hallertau also, but it is my plan to visit them and drink from the Fountain. I am recommended Behemoth and Schippers but the bartender can’t confirm where the beer was brewed, and I said I need to know it is brewed in Auckland.

I am now digging deep, I nearly consider getting a Steinlager Pure (the 102 metre dive could be an interesting angle) but can’t bring myself to do it. I ask for a Boundary Road Brewery Flying Fortress, with a screwed up face and probably funny sounding voice. They say we sold the last bottle a couple of days of go. I have a big sigh of relief. I am still stuck though. Oh no, what am I going to do?? Damn it, I’ll have a Hallertau #3. This isn’t the beer I wanted to review from Hallertau. I made some notes, but my evening continued on. Not happy.

I caught up with heaps of great beer industry people. Including John Morawski and asked him what beers from Laughing Bones I could try and where I could try them. I was a little confused when I assumed his beers would be on at Brothers Beer where he brews his beer, but he said they don’t stock them. He did say that his beer would be on again at Sky Sports Grill in the next couple of days.

Dave Kurth Fashion

Dave Kurth with an amazing Westport hand knitted jersey on

Dave Kurth from Hot Water Brewing Company was there and for some reason he was the lucky brewer tonight, as one of the South Island kegs ran out and his Kauri Pale Ale was put on and was tasting as good as I have ever tasted it. (quick get to the Lumsden ASAP to try some). It is always a pleasure to catch up with Dave, as I am assured of receiving some form of verbal abuse or teasing. (Love you Dave, and you make great beer, pity no one realises that yet)

Finally I catch up with Joseph Wood from Liberty Brewing Company, who turns up late. I was planning to head to Riverhead this evening to spectate at the Oyster 100 Club, but couldn’t bare driving out there and back to the Lumsden in the Auckland traffic. Joseph ate 101 Oyster in an hour and a half, and then drove to the city (with his lovely wife Christina). First thing I do is to run over and punch him in the guts. Yes he was in a distressed state and I believe he has actually eaten that many oysters. What a legend. Must also give a shout to The Plow, Dave Huff and Tom Madams from Cryer Malt, all of who ate 100 Oysters as well. Seems like an odd and difficult way to get a free tshirt. Eat $100 of oysters. Steve, you own the company, just buy a tshirt, and avoid the gastric distress. I am interested in hearing about how all four of you feel tomorrow morning.

OK, getting to the point of Day 3 of Beer of Auckland Advent Calendar. It was less than a perfect situation, so I have stretched my definition of Auckland, to Greater Auckland and included Whenuakite. Joe comes out (outside was a lovely evening with a moon getting close to full, slightly cool, a few clouds and the light getting low and dusky) with a can of the Hot Water Brewing Company 2014 Barley Wine. BOOM. That is the beer. (Cheers Joe for giving me the other half of the can)

So I had to revert to a can!?

Beers of Auckland Advent Calendar 2014
Hot Water Brewing Barley WineDAY 3 – 2014 Barley Wine by Hot Water Brewing Company

CAN: 2014 Barley Wine (355ml, 12 oz, can. I don’t know why)
BREWED: Hot Water Brewing Company
ABV: 9.5%
IBU: ??
HOPS: ??
AWARDS: Gold – 2014 NZ Beer Awards

Barley Wines are not that easy to make, and really hard to sell, especially in this country. Only a small handful of breweries make them. Dave made a couple of Barley Wines while brewing at West Coast Brewing Company, which were pretty nice. But he has really nailed it on this batch. I would call out that this is currently the best Barley Wine in New Zealand. (go on show me a better one. this did just win Gold).

Aroma is rich and malty, with a slight grain huskiness when cold but as it warms there is more caramel and toffee notes. The flavour is sweet but not cloying like some barley wines, notes of toffee and raisins, fruitiness, and barley sugars. The finish seems dry and light , with a bitter edge, but after a couple of mouthfuls this lighter finish actually makes the beer more drinkable than what one would expect from a Barley Wine.

So after a nearly traumatic evening not knowing what I was going to write about I ended up with a special treat, and even got to spend some time with the brewer. You never know what craft brewer you will meet in a craft beer bar in Auckland.

#craftbeer #auckland #newzealand

Craft Beer in Auckland

  • Andrew

    Totally agree about Hot Water Brewing – awesome beers. In fact, I’d go out on a limb and say they are currently the region’s most under appreciated brewery. His West Coast IPA from his days at West Coast Brewery was a classic too.

    I always look out for their cans but they are hard to find and when you do, the selection’s often limited, both in number and selection. I suspect that’s one of the main issues with the lack of appreciation.

  • “Nobody realises it yet”? Really? I see Dave’s Mighty Cans (ahem) everywhere I go lately. They are even in the cafe over the road not 200m from where I’m sitting. Kauri Pale Ale is a go-to beer for me these days.

  • OK, some people realise it, but not as many as should.

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