Two beers from Schipper's of Mount Eden in New Zealand today, both acquired at the Alltech festival waaay back last February so sadly not on the Irish market, as far as I'm aware.
First up is Scallywag, a 5.5% ABV amber ale boasting Motueka, Pacifica, and Styrian Goldings hops, though boasting is about all that's going on. There's a vaguely pleasant orangeade tang to it, balanced against some light biscuit malts, but not a whole lot else. As well as lacking the proper flavours for an amber ale, it even has the colour off, being more pale than amber. There's nothing wrong with it per se, it's just not what I'm after in this kind of beer.
Golden Geezer also makes a bit of a colour faux pas, being more of an orange amber than gold, pouring fizzily with a light fuzz of haze through it. Though only 4.6% ABV it's not the weak antipodean lager substitute I was expecting. The aroma gives the first clue: peaches, pink grapefruit and other succulent tropical loveliness. A more assertive bitterness arrives on tasting, pithy and acidic at first, allowing some rounded juicy mandarin in the middle before going back for a sharp lime finish. All done with Pacific Jade and Nelson Sauvin says the label helpfully, I'd never have guessed. Its Achilles' heel is the texture: an attempt at lightness has left it more watery than anything else; the hops lack a proper malt base to cling to. If you're going to unbalance a beer then this is definitely the direction in which to do so, but just a little more body would have upgraded it from pleasant sunshine sessioner to world-beater.
Schipper's, it seems, know what they're trying to do, and are capable of doing it, but on this evidence I think more practice may be required.
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