NZ Hopping + Firestone Reviews

Time to review New Zealand hopped beers via Paso Robles and Firestone Walker.

Let’s start with Nelson, a West Coast IPA. It pours a dark orange color. I get grape must and a slight tannic quality on the first sip. A little cat pee in the aroma. Further sips reveal a Concord grape note. There is a good hit of bitterness. Finishes with a combination of herbal and spicy.

Elenna is a hazy and a higher ABV than most FW beers which usually land in the 5.6% range. It pours a murky yellow color in keeping with the style. Aroma is forest like. Quite soft on the palate. Little bit of a cream texture. At the end I get a mixture of cherry and citrus.

NZ Hopping

Thanks to the generosity of NZ Hops and Firestone Walker, I learned some new information and got to rub some New Zealand grown hops yesterday.

The headliner being the new-ish Nectaron hop. Let’s backpedal a bit though. NZ Hops is a hop co-op that has bine roots stretching back 150 years. The group is comprised of 27 farms with 18 hop varietals sone of which are organic. They have connections with the Plant & Food Program Hop Division and their hop rock star Dr. Ron Beatson, which wraps us back to Nectaron which is slyly named after him.

We have been enjoying New Zealand hops in our beers for some time now but this latest innovation push and increased usage by notable brewers like Firestone Walker means, we will be seeing more of their hops. The photo above shows three of four current beers from FW that feature their hops.

In my one adjective findings Nectaron pellets – Pineapple, Nelson – lemon and Motueka – earthy. In the two beers that I tasted, the Nectaron came through as watermelon plus nectarine and the Nelson was white wine grape. It amazes me that brewers can take one aroma in pellet form and create something new in a beer. Gotta love bio-transformation.

I will review the Elenna and 18th (can you believe it) iteration of Luponic Distortion later this month to round out the NZ hop experience.

Newly in Style

The 2021 style guidelines dropped at the end of February and here is the news people are tuning in for, what new styles have been added?

Per the Brewers Association press release…

“Hundreds of revisions, edits, format changes, and additions were made to this year’s guidelines, including updates to existing beer styles and the creation of new categories. New additions to the beer styles include:”

  • Kentucky Common Beer
  • New Zealand-Style Pale Ale and India Pale Ale
  • Belgian-Style Session Ale

I bet local Ten Mile Brewing will be sending their Common, Hidden Hollow on to GABF but this also helps the IPA focused breweries who now have less crowded main categories as the entrants shift to hazy. My interest lies in which of Kentucky Common and Belgian Session have more entries.

Review – Party & Bullshit from Garage Project


I have only had a few beers from Garage Project out of New Zealand. So when the offer arose to try their new canned (14oz) Party & Bullshit, I could not say no to the freebie. And I was not disappointed, the first sip gives me a creamy pine needle taste. Pineapple aroma with mango and guava as I take more sniffs of the orange hued and not really hazy IPA. It is quite bitter with some Citrus pith. Pinned down to Ruby red grapefruit. I like the name and the can design especially the close your eyes admonishment. One of the better NE styled beers that I have had. Maybe the pine does it for me.

The Desolation of Hops

I wasn’t a big fan of the Hobbit (aka, the one big dinner scene movie) but even that poorly paced flick might be made better by this hop-punned beer from Moa….

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They seem to be catching flak in their native land because they are thought of as more brand than beer. Fair point. The craft community has a history book full of brands masquerading as beer so that reflex is understandable. But, as I tell people, it is the beer that counts. Not the marketing. Not the size of the brewery. Not the reputation of the brewer. Not the hipster location. Beer comes first. Then you can filter and sort by the other stuff after that. The few Moa beers that I have had stood out to my tastebuds so I hope they soldier on.

Review – Green Bullet from Green Flash

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Green Flash is not lying with the Triple IPA moniker.  That is a major pine scent coming off of this and it is strong.  So is the ABV.  This is a palate wrecker for sure. Lots of citrus and herbal notes.  Lots of bitterness here.  Really strong.  Did I mention that?  The New Zealand hops pop right at the beginning but the remainder of the hop assault overwhelms that delicate front note.  This is a seasonal release that will only be with us through December and I think it is definitely a colder weather IPA for sure.

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Now I am reading about the starting point for one of my favorite bands from when I was younger, New Order.  It is by the band’s bassist, Peter Hook and it is his recollection of the start of Joy Division and the Manchester music scene.  Unknown Pleasures has a cool design and book jacket and has been fun to read 50 pages in.

MOA – reviewed

In addition to my monthly video reviews, I will be adding my two cents the old fashioned way via photos and words for a set of beers each month.

Now we head to New Zealand to review St. Joseph’s Tripel and Breakfast Beer.

St. Joseph’s pours a medium yellow color from the caged and corked 12.7 ounce green bottle. Big fluffy head on this one. Aroma is citrus and potpourri and vanilla notes. All of which follow into the taste. A pleasing slickness and hit of alcohol also come through with this Belgian tripel via Blenheim. The label is practically all in black with only the red font of St. Joseph’s to see.

Breakfast beer pours a light orange. A pear/grape combo hits the tongue first. It really is viscous though for what should be a sprightly beer. There is a creamy texture too. I like this a skosh more than the St Joseph’s because it is lighter with a more unique flavor.

Breakfast Beer

MOA Brewing from Marlborough in New Zealand brings us a beer for the AM.

“Moa Breakfast Beer is a blend of premium wheat malt, floral Nelson hops and cherries. A very refreshing and fruity lager specifically designed as a European-style breakfast beer but more commonly enjoyed as a mid-afternoon beverage here in New Zealand. Although not always.”

Might be perfect with pancakes.

MOA

No, it is not someone asking for “moa” beer please. It is a brewery from New Zealand. Blenheim to be exact.

MOA Beer recently held a tasting of 5 of their beers up in Oregon at the famous Belmont Station. And maybe some of their line will reach a little further south here to Los Angeles.

The ones that most interest me are:
Moa Five Hop Winter Ale shows the unique signatures of traditional North European bottle conditioning. Displaying a Nelson-dominant hoppy nose with a subtle oak character leaving extra smooth and creamy, honeyed characters on the palate. A well-balanced companion to eastern style spiced foods. Traditionally served just below room temperature.

Moa Methode is bottle fermented and conditioned to give a natural, more consistent carbonation and flavour. Due to the natural brewing process of Methode Moa, a light, beneficial sediment will remain. This sediment protects the beer from premature aging and leaves full, slightly spicy characters on the palate.

New Zealand goes all in

This sounds like one amazing beer. And you can not only drink it, but watch a video about the growing craft beer scene in New Zealand too.

“Here is an amazing world first for New Zealand, creating the world’s largest collaborative brew, with most of the small independent breweries of New Zealand contributing. This project was filmed and will become an online TV series about the craft breweries of New Zealand.

The resulting beer, Mash Up, is a New Zealand Pale Ale at 6% abv that is an ode to the deliciously refreshing New Zealand hops. It uses a blend of Kiwi and British malt (many brewers are British or got their inspiration from the UK beer scene) and is touted as being the world’s largest ever collaboration beer.

“We both think Mash Up is a great summary of where NZ beer is at,” states Ryan. “With the popularity of our great brewing ingredients on the rise abroad, it’s definitely time that we celebrate their quality here at home.”