Our first stop in New Zealand was Auckland, their largest city. Outside of Auckland off the beaten path to the Northwest is Hallertau Brew Bar and Restaurant. It's a beautiful place with a mix of rustic and upscale decor that make it feel fancy but cozy and comfortable at the same time. As if it's the local watering hole by day for you and your buddies to hang out. At night it transforms in to a classy restaurant with amazing food your date would be head over heels for. And they make beer!
When you go, and I highly recommend you do, try all the food on the menu! It's wonderful. The beer, I recommend you be more selective.
Hallertau Luxe Kolsch:
This is a wonderful example of a Kolsch. Light pale yellow. Just a ring of a head with lots of lacing that hangs on the sides of the glass. The nose is apple, hay and sweetness. It has a light taste with a slight sweet biscuit and tang at the end to cleanse the pallet. This paired well with my octopus in lime mayo. This is a great beer for drinking after a long day bungee jumping or maybe hang gliding. It quenches your thirst but has a nice subtle complexity that rewards your attention. A great opener or session beer.
Statesman Pale Ale:
I moved on to the next level on the Dial and stepped up to their Pale Ale. The New Zealand hops have a great tropical flower aroma. I also picked up a touch of soap in the nose. Maybe some cardamom seed? It also has a fine thin head again with hanging lace on the glass. It has a lovely deep golden color. Clear. For a pale ale this really goes in to IPA territory. Yummy fresh hoppiness with a sweetness that balances it out in the middle of your tongue. It's a bit of a palate buster but a really flavorful beer that you could drink all day. this was definitely my favorite in the bunch and I recommend this be your pint.
Copper Tart Red Ale:
This the first of the maltier offerings. It has a sweet hibiscus tea nose. A reddish brown color. It has a very light color. This is where things go off the rails. It has a light watery taste. There is almost no hops, or malt come to think of it. It's Kinda herbal tea like similar to the nose. Slight hop spice at the end. If I were drinking a pilsner I might like this. A red ale should have more flavor in my book.
Schwarzbier: Black beer. Skip it.
So things didn't get better as we went up to the next tick on the dial. This was thin, watery, and just this side of the red tea i just had. Tobacco and not much else. Kinda seems like they were trying to create a gentle black ale that was this side of a porter And made something that Dr Frankenfurter wouldn't go near. Not offensive, not flavorful, and not interesting.
Now were back! This beer was brewed in an Maori hangi. It's a traditional Maori tribal method of smoking food. Smokey bacon nose and smokey bacon taste. The sweetness does a nice job of cutting the edge off the smoke. So it doesn't taste chemically like some smoked beers can. Still a little thin but lots of flavor. Smoke plus sweet is a nice combo. Both would be too strong on their own but together they keep each other at bay even in the lingering aftertaste. A deftly balanced beer that picks you up and puts you firmly back on the rails.
All in all a lovely experience for food and beer. I prefer their pale ale and lager offerings over their darker beers. If you visit Auckland and you care about beer. You have to check these guys out.