This month was an especially exciting one for me – it included a trip to Melbourne to enjoy Good Beer Week and the Great Australasian Beer Specatpular. It was a rather exhausting week actually, and it’s taken me another week to recover from the busy beery days and a particularly nasty cold I managed to pick up at the end of the holiday.
Not surprisingly, I enjoyed my beer of the month across the ditch during Good Beer Week. Perhaps what is surprising about it though, is that the stand out beer of May was just a plain old pale ale from an Australian brewery.
A week in Melbourne really did make me appreciate how lucky we beer lovers are here in New Zealand. While there were a lot of delicious beers in Australia, there were a decent number of duds too, and many of the more exciting beers, excluding the GABS offerings, were styles that have been around in NZ for quite a while¹.
So when I tried the Wig & Pen Pale Ale, on cask at The Courthouse Hotel, it really made an impression. It was a simple pale ale, made exceptionally well. Brewed with American hops, it had an earthy, fruity aroma, and tasted of earth and citrus, with an easy bitterness on the finish. The malt was just as impressive, with a bit of roast, a bit of biscuit and a bit of caramel – something that could stand up to the hops and filled out the body nicely, but was very easy to drink. It was smooth, well-balanced and just plain tasty.
In a week where I tried a beetroot saison, a lemon myrtle ale, a white chocolate raspberry pilsner, a pale ale brewed with Dai Dai fruit, three different types of Christmas pudding ales, and countless imperial, smoked, coffee, chocolate, barrel-aged concoctions, there were very few good, simple beers with no tricks². So it’s actually the simple, but oh-so tasty, Wig & Pen Pale Ale on cask that made the biggest impression on me in such a busy, beery week. With this beer completely unavailable in New Zealand, for once, I’m jealous of all you Aussie craft beer drinkers.
There will be more to come about my Australian beer adventures in the coming days!
¹ Black IPAs ,Red IPAs, drinkable sours…
² Though many of the beers in that list were very delicious. In fact, my favourite festival beer was one of those tricky concoctions – a barrel-aged, imperial stout from Prickly Moses in Victoira.