April has been a pretty great month for beer. It kicked off with Marchfest – 15 brand new beers from breweries in Nelson and Marlborough, poured all day at Nelson’s Founders Park. That was followed by Wellington’s Hopstock – eight fresh-hopped beers poured at 12 different bars around the city. And my beer of the month came smack bang in the middle of the two.
Marchfest 2013 was possibly the best one yet – the sun was out all day, the food was as delicious as ever and 10 of the 15 brews on offer were tasty enough for a second glass. But it’s what was on offer after the festival that really made an impression on me.
After a pint at the Milton Street Sprig & Fern, we went for a couple of beers and some food at the relatively new Rhythm and Brown bar on New Street. New on the beer engine was a collaboration from Townshend and Liberty called Chatham’s Rise. The 5.7% pale ale was brewed using New Zealand Chinook and Cascade fresh hops, and went incredibly well with the cheese platter and Connect Four¹.
Chatham’s Rise was pretty much the perfect hand-pulled beer. It tasted of earth and grapefruit with a great caramel and roast malt body and a velvety-smooth mouth feel. The earthy hop character balanced the malt body well and after a day of drinking a very wide range of beers, it was just so tasty and easy all in one mouthful. I had two. Maybe even three².
When it got too busy at Rhythm and Brown to continue to play Connect Four, or really even have a conversation³, the boyf and I walked around the corner to The Free House – the traditional Marchfest after-party venue. But when we arrived, things were clearly winding down and last drinks had just been called. So with that, we ordered one more beer – a Chatham’s Rise – and sat on the couches for a festival debrief.
Just a few short days later it was available in Wellington as part of Hopstock, and while I didn’t manage to get around to tasting all eight of the beers, Chatham’s Rise remains my favourite fresh-hopped beer of the season, and my favourite beer of the month.
I’m looking forward to giving it another try on Friday at Hashigo Zake’s second annual fresh hop tap takeover – I can’t wait to find out if Chatham’s Rise will remain on top when up against seven other hop harvest beers!
¹ It turns out I still really love Connect Four. And I think I surprised most of my fellow festival-goers with how competitive I am. I now happen to be the reigning Connect Four champion, and it turns out Chatham’s Rise is a pretty tasty victory beer too.
² You’ll understand if you’ve ever been to Marchfest. By about 8pm, every beer begins to merge into one glorious haze…
³ An acoustic duo, while incredibly talented and playing all the right songs, were oh-so-loud, and there were so many people packed into the place that coming back from the bar was a ten-minute ordeal. Clearly, Rhythm and Brown was THE place to be.