Last month, Funk Estate’s first beer – Black IPA – was launched at Hashigo Zake in Wellington. The guys from Funk Estate sure did a good job of getting word out too, because Hashigo was packed FULL of people before Dan, Dylan, Jordan and Shiggy had even poured the first pint at 5.30pm.
Funk Estate took a bit of a risk launching a Black IPA as its first beer. While there aren’t all that many Black IPAs brewed by New Zealand craft breweries, those that are¹, are amazing. And when you’re launching a beer that is supposed to be competing with the Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black, which just won the Champion Beer award at the 2012 Asia Beer Awards², you better make sure that it’s really, really good.
But it was a risk that paid off. Funk Estate Black IPA broke all sorts of records at Hashigo on the launch night – the first 50 litre keg was emptied in less than 15 minutes and all five kegs were sold out in a little more than three hours. Poor old Dan, Dylan, Jordan and Shiggy spent the entire evening having to deal with people gushing about how good the beer tasted – how tough it must be to be a brewer sometimes!
And all of the hype was justified. Funk Estate Black IPA pours very black with ruby red edging and a light brown head. It gives off an earthy aroma with roasted malt notes too. What surprised me at first was at how dark and chocolaty and porter-like it tasted at first. The big roasted malt, coffee and dark chocolate flavours dominate initially, but then the hop character really starts coming through, with a big earthy flavour that builds, along with the bitterness, with the beer finishing quite dry. It is beautifully balanced, and has the big bitter kick you’d expect from a black IPA, as well as a beautiful earthiness that I think compliments the dark flavours beautifully.
The success of the first beer has meant the Funk Estate boys have been busy in recent weeks. Another batch of the popular Black IPA has been brewed at Aotearoa Breweries, and they’ve also laid down a batch of Coconut Porter which is launching at SOBA’s Winter Ale festival. Continuing with the dark beer theme, Funk Estate has also just brewed an imperial version of the Black IPA on Massey University’s 200-litre kit, which is likely to be hard to get your hands on, and expensive, but no doubt worth a try. Boy is my notebook going to be busy over the next few months…
¹ Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black and Croucher Patriot - both are absolutely delicious and you must try them if you haven’t already.
² One half of Yeastie Boys, Stu McKinlay, was interviewed about the award on RadioNZ’s Checkpoint show – http://bit.ly/OfRiqw