SpecTAPulars normally mean there are twenty special beers on tap, a bell is rung once a keg is drained and there is an opportunity to taste all the beers on offer in paddles of five. Me, Tiff (fellow #beergirlrager), Tristan and bestie K had decided on our gameplan very early – we’d all buy paddles of all twenty beers and each have a sip of every beer.
If the idea of twenty beers to choose from seems very daunting, fear not! The Local always have a ‘passport’ to make your journey a good one – not only does it have a list of all the beers, but notes and general advice on beer tasting.
Steve, the owner of The Local Taphouse, and I directly quote, was very heartened by the success of the day:
Of the 20 or so SpecTAPulars we’ve held across both Taphouses, there have been some big ones but the Kiwi SpecTAPular was the biggest yet in both venues.
Quite an achievement! I remember the last one I was able to attend, the Aussie SpecTAPular had punters lining up at the doors pre-hour of establishment’s open.
But onto the beers, eh? I suspect I might’ve had palate fatigue but my personal highlights were the second half of the beer listed in the passport – from Yeastie Boys’ Rex Attitude (which you guys already know I love from previous post at the breakfast) onwards.
There were oddities, like my palate preferring Renaissance Stonecutter in the bottle over it in the keg?! Sacrilege, I know. 8 Wired’s Hopwired couldn’t displease if it wore its dirtiest underwear – that was fab.
The Three Boys Oyster Stout and Mike’s Imperial Porter absolutely hit the spot for the weather (though it was nice and toasty inside the Local given the amount of punters).
One of the earlier beers sampled that I liked though advertised as hoppy, I preferred its maltier characteristics – the Moa Five Hop. Again, could be my palate crack talking.
Every one of these SpecTAPulars is an absolute treat to attend. The staff do a phenomenal job, the patrons are always so polite and you end up exchanging tasting notes with absolute strangers and on top of that, it’s a great way to sample beer from a specialised place – in this case New Zealand.
I didn’t see him at the Local in costume but co-owner Steve got into the sheepish spirit of things too.
Last yearbeermen.tv did a truly wild and wacky thing: they put on a breakfast and beer event. This year, it was tied to Good Beer Week and was bigger and badder than ever.
Ten beers were served up with five delectable courses. How did they manage to pull it off? It was great value too – $35 a head was a very reasonable price for so much on offer. Upon arrival, everyone was greeted with the Feral Brewery Golden Ale. I recalled that Brendan Varis, the head brewer was keen on Sorachi Ace hops so when I picked out lemony notes in the beer, I was chuffed to see that yes, the hop in question had been employed – such palate epiphanies are awe-inspiring. My palate is not that great and though it’s slowly improving, it has a loooooong way to go. Good excuse for more beer imbibing? In any case, Golden Ace was quite a refreshing start to the day.
The next beer remains a bit of a personal fave – Bridge Road’s chestnut pilsner. Though some may criticise, I actually like that it’s so variable. The first time I had it, I couldn’t taste any chestnut, but the last time I had before this, it was nothing but roasted chestnutty goodness. Autumn in a bottle. This time around, the chestnut was subtle and sweet and it felt less like a pilsner? It could be the first beer colouring my palate, admittedly.
Then the first course came out and all thoughts of beer dissipated: a smoked trout and lemon myrtle quiche. Fantastic match with the Feral but not too shabby with the chestnut pils either. It was great that they served us our beers, gave us one course between the beers and let our taste guide us to decide which beer matched what food best.
Our next duo of beers was the Red Hill Hop Harvest ale and the 8 Wired Hop Wired.
I’m a massive fan of both, but have to say that the Hop Harvest ale matched the veal sausages with caramelised onion beautifully – the beer really accentuated the caramelisation long after the sausages had been polished off! (note: I’m hoping it’s veal – a few staff members serving didn’t seem to be sure about what they were bringing out. A menu along the beer menu would’ve been awesome for us food blog wanksters)
I think the Hop Wired would have worked on fattier sangas – but that’s just a guess. Half a sausage wasn’t enough: take from that what you will…(I wanted two full ones, ha)
Next up, a beer that is an old friend, Holgate’s Temptress, and a brand spanking new one, Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude – the latter causing quite a bit of dissension amongst the ranks: a fair few folks (brewing industry folk and ‘regular’ punters alike) had a a lot of trouble finishing their Rex Attitude because it was one smoky whatsit. Maybe I’m broken or just in want of more good whisky, but I freaking loved it.
Rex Attitude was my official number one beer for the breakfast, however neither Temptress or Rex suited the dish it was served with – steak and onion on bruschetta.
At this point of the breakfast, a bottle of Holgate’s Empress (a limited release beer that is a divine jazzed up version of their Temptress) was auctioned off for Beyond Blue for the princely sum of three hundred and one dollars. Yea for socially conscious beer lovers *heart swells with pride*!
Dessert time! Darren Robinson of Doctor’s Orders Brewing was on hand to take us through his creation to be served with one of the desserts – his Zephyr. I’m not sure that Doc’s beer matched dessert but wow, it’s summer in a glass. Imagine, stinking hot day, horrible day at work, go to the fridge and quench your thirst with a glass of this…almost makes me long for summer and I loathe summer!
Greedily, I scoffed down my share of rhubarb and ANZAC crumble…
…before moving onto the chocolate sauce pancakes. I confess I cannot tell you which of the stouts were best suited to the pancakes because I was too busy stuffing my face.
There were also plenty on non-beery highlights. I absolutely adore this photo of my #beergirlrage mate Jenn and her glee at winning trivia:
Soon-to-be-leaving (pout) Mountain Goat head brewer Jayne Lewis wearing merch of the ‘competition’, so to speak (as you can gather from the photo, it’s not really like that, is it?)
Mark of beermen.tv explaining how Damo lost a bet and ended up in a rather fetching costume. Details of the bet lost were not divulged…
Two punters consenting to a blind tasting – first of some evil cola soft drinky whatsit then the liquid that united us all.
And what happened to the jolly good sport who lost the beer taste-off…
But wait, that’s not all! Clear out you bastards!
And enjoy your last beer, the Stone and Wood Pacific Ale (formerly draught ale) outdoors (Tristan insisted I use this photo. Sorry).
But be buoyed by Brendan Varis and Shandy never looking so damn happy in his life.
Beer Deluxe did an amazing job with the Hair of the Dog breakfast: the staff were phenomenal, always attentive, helpful and just damn hospitality ninjas. Thanks to all involved as it made for a cracking start to the weekend.
Due to space concerns and not giving The Local Taphouse’s food at the Brewers and Chewers event in my last post any coverage whatsoever, I decided to do one dedicated solely to the food and the beer (see previous post here discussing brewery-industry-journalisty types and wonderfully esteemed, scintillating company it was too). It never felt like we had enough time with either person which indicates to me that the event was a roaring success.
Sorry, my table. I stole a lot of the tomatoes. I’m destined to suffer a similar fate to St Augustine for such crimes…(when he’s not talking about his racy past and how sorry he is about that, he also goes on about how wracked with guilt he was at stealing pears from a neighbour’s tree as a kid. Read his Confessions if you don’t believe me). Beautiful salad: nice mix of leaves and the dressing was subtle but special and an excellent appetite-whetter.
Not really paying attention to beer and food matching but desperate to get just as many Sierra Nevada beers into me (responsibly: Tristan and I shared a single bottle of all of the ones we had for the whole night), next up was the Sierra Nevada Summerfest lager, 2011. Fresh off the boat!
This was drunk alongside two courses – field mushrooms with chorizo sauté with Brewdog Tokyo (eeeee!) and beef empanadas with 8 Wired Big Smoke porter. Both courses were phenomenal – juicy, sauce-soaked-up mushies and the beef empanadas I could easily have done with another though given the generous servings, that probably wouldn’t have been wise.
Raising the culinary bar even further, two generous dishes designed to complement each other were served yet again – Moroccan spiced couscous steamed with Sierra Nevada Kellerweis, with roast vegetables served separately. The second actual dish however was the most moreish for me of the evening – BrewDog Paradox Isle of Arran lamb neck tagine with snow peas and tomatoes. The meat was melt-in-the-mouth tender and again, greedy sot that I am, it didn’t feel like there was enough to go around. Heavenly. The couscous soaked up the tagine’s sauce making sure not a drop was wasted! Bless you couscous. Our table companions opposite us TJ and Chris were also celebrating its deliciousness.
Forgive me, but I did not have a beer that matched any of these dishes, drinking ‘rogue’ if you will: in fact the word ‘iconic’ comes to mind to describe my next shared beer…as does twosongs (replacing the word ‘atomic’ for ‘iconic’).
Then it was onto their Torpedo IPA. What a treat to enjoy these beers guilt-free as well as fresh…I’m not implying I would judge you for your decision to drink grey, but personally, it was something that did bother me when I chose to do it though the temptation and the lure to try a beer I’d never had before was just too great. I’m like Jonathan Safran Foer being all private about eating meat as described in the first chapter of his book Eating Animals (which for the record I never intend to give up).
Dessert time! Oh lord. I said I would only have half a slice but it was just too fab to share.
To finish the sumptuous dinner we had a Feral brown ale gingerbread pudding served with crème anglaise and butterscotch sauce. What a perfect end to a glorious evening. The gingerbread flavouring was fairly subtle but the sauce! Absolute gustatory gleefulness.
TJ, the lovely lass across from me was proudly extolling the virtues of a damn good dark beer from very early on in the evening. Finally, after going through all the beer on the beer menu I’d not previously tried, it was time to get our SN porter and stout on.
The amount of positive things I have to say about The Local Taphouse, you’d seriously think I worked for them (I don’t) but they just do so much for good beer. Aside from the dishes being fantastic as stand-alone dishes, I felt like they had a small element that connected each to the previous one served, the progression was natural.
If Brewers and Chewers runs next year for Good Beer Week and how Steve & co. managed to run it so effortlessly this year given it was a brand new format is awe-inspiring, you really ought to make an attempt to get to it. Things really can only get better from this point onwards.