July was a pretty hectic month for me. Between work, moving house, being sick (yay for shift work), and helping the Society of Beer Advocates get out the Winter Issue of The Pursuit of Hoppiness, I actually had very little time to enjoy all that many beers.
But through some twist of fate¹, I did manage to make the SOBA Winter Ale Festival. It was held at a new location this year – Victoria University’s newly renovated Hunter Lounge², and was bigger than ever before. There was a huge selection of beer on offer, making it difficult to know just what to try in the short space of time. I stuck to the dark beers – it being a winter ale festival after all, and tried some wonderful gems.
Yeastie Boys’ Pot Kettle Black was on cask and tasting like it’s wonderful roasty, bitter self; Mike Neilson’s new Panhead Brewery made its debut with an Oat Stout – a full-bodied and well-balanced roasty, chocolate delight; while Liberty Brewing’s Never Go Back provided both a toffee sweetness and coffee kick that ended the evening perfectly.
But it was Kereru’s For Great Justice Porter that was the stand-out beer for me. At 4.5%, it was the lowest alcohol beer on offer that day – a fact I only became aware of at the end of the event while searching back through the programme during my own personal festival debrief³. For Great Justice went down like a beer of close to 6%, with a full body and smooth finish. It tasted of a chocolate brownie, with a rich, dark chocolate flavour and roast malt notes. While the description of the beer in the programme mentioned it has coconut in it, it’s not a character I picked up on – potentially due to my cold. But its flavour was not lacking without it, and For Great Justice made quite the impression on me with its sweet, chocolate notes.
While the weather forecasters are predicting an early spring, I’m determined to continue to drink the high quality of rich, dark beers on offer at this time of year, for as long as I can.
Kereru have a stall at Beervana next weekend – and For Great Justice comes with my highest recommendation.
¹ On the day before the festival, my netball game was shifted to a 4pm start, which meant I would only be able to arrive at the festival at about 5.30pm. But by the time I woke up from my morning nap on the Saturday (I was napping because I felt like shit, thanks to the combined effects of a cold and tummy bug), my netball game had been cancelled because of a double-booked court. I decided to head to the festival despite my illness, and one beer happened to settle my stomach and lift my spirits – so I stayed.
² The last time I set foot in the Hunter Lounge I was at the front of a mosh pit at a Shihad concert in first year. A very different atmosphere this time around.
³ I’m a nerd, I know.