New Zealand certainly has no shortage of breweries. As well as several big players and a couple of brewpub chains there are innumerable small-to-middle-sized operations all making a surprisingly wide range of beers. In the time I was there I could only hope to get a taster of what was on offer from these breweries, and with several I only managed to try one of their beers. So before I move on to the breweries I am most familiar with, this post is about the individual beers whose stablemates never reached me.
Duncan's Founder's range offers a broad selection of beers, of which Generation Ale was the only one I managed to try. It's a very smooth and satisfying dry nutty brown ale. Monk's Habit is an even more complex bitter with a strong burst of grapefruit on the nose and a taste both fruity and spicy at once. Green Man Organic Bitter is remarkably pale, but is most definitely bitter - probably the bitterest bitter in New Zealand. It has a full-on vegetal taste with notes of sprouts and broccoli, but in a good way.
On the lager front, the local Indian-style curry lager is called Monsoon which isn't a success, being blander and fizzier than Cobra or Kingfisher which it is presumably trying to emulate. The Pig and Whistle bar in Rotorua serve an own-brand lager called Swine which is very light, but carried an overtone of mustiness which spoiled it for me and I'm not sure if it was intended. Could be I just got a bad pint.
The Limburg brewery make a Witbier which is both orange in colour and taste. So overpoweringly fruity is this one that drinking more than 33cl would be a tall order, I think.
Lastly, and most interestingly, is Spruce Beer. The label claims this is based on an original recipe used on Captain Cook's voyages and incorporating the nearest thing New Zealand has to spruce, the rimua, as well as tea-tree leaves. The result is a fairly smooth beer but with a bizarre and distracting mediciney taste. It's certainly nothing at all like Scotland's real spruce beer Alba. Still, Kiwi as.
Westmalle Dubbel - *Origin: Belgium | Date: 2008 | ABV: 7% | On The Beer Nut: October 2007* It's a longtime favourite today. Westmalle Dubbel goes back to the very beginnings...
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