Origin – United States of America
Style- Imperial Indian Pale Ale
There was My Cousin Rachel, My Cousin Vinny, Cousin Betty, Cousin Jules, Clark Griswold’s cousin Eddie from National Lampoon’s Vacation, and which car loving lad growing up could forget The Dukes of Hazzard cousins, Bo and Luke Duke. Most of us have cousins. Many good ones, some goofy ones and certainly the odd devilish one, but I’d suggest none have a cousin as evil as this whopping 8% double IPA from the lads at Heretic. They are well known for unconventional beer names, such as Dead Santa, Primo Diable, and Popenator, and their strong ales, the Evil Quadruplets is a lazy 14.5%. So the Evil Cousin with its 2.2 stand drinks per can is pretty much run of the mill really! But in the style of an Imperial IPA, this Heretic, to put it mildly, is a bold, in-your-face hop monster. Though don’t let that put you off. Its big flavour is also incredibly smooth and easy drinking, and I’m not the only one who thinks that. It’s one of the best-rated beers on ratebeer.com, receiving a remarkable 96% from 422 reviews! But forget what the others are saying, crack one and try it for yourself. She beer pours light amber, betraying its true composition, while the nose, however, reminds you of the territory you are in, with pine and grapefruit dominating. It’s light on the palate with a sweet malt providing the base upon which a sharply resinous hop profile, loaded with citrus and pine, leads to a bristly finish. While the hop flavour is intense, there’s a surprisingly soft bitterness in the aftertaste. What stands out most about the Evil Cousin is the deceptive profile. This tinny was far too easy to finish, leaving me wanting more. Perhaps this is where the evil nature comes from, as the 8% brew snuck up on me quickly as I contemplated another. After a few of these, I certainly wouldn’t recommend getting behind the wheel of the General Lee.
Origin – England
By the 19th century, with townships and streets across England having already been named, how else does a master brewer have his name etched in history? A beer brand of course! But the brand that Charles Young went on to make a household name, pre-dates even the great man himself. Records show that the original brewery, the Ram (the animal which is now the trademark image on all of Young’s labels) first raised a glass of fine, and no doubt warm, English ale in 1576, and continuously operated until its closure in 2006. Even at the time of its closure, the brewery was a mix of ancient and ultra-modern, still using a steam engine which had been installed in 1835. Now with a pedigree like this, it’s unsurprising this beer from Young’s stable, the Double Chocolate Stout has been recognized as an award-winning brew on several occasions. Most stouts feature some chocolate flavours, but you can usually thank the presence of roasted grains rather than an actual dose of cocoa. Young’s doubles down and uses both roasted malt and cocoa in its Double Chocolate Stout. And just to be clear when I say cocoa, I’m talking about real dark chocolate mixed in with the brew. That certainly explains both the almost pitch-black appearance and the nose of chocolate, caramel and spiced fruit. Despite the imposing colour and aroma, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how drinkable the Double is. Rather than overpowering the roasted malt and toffee flavours, the chocolate hangs out in the back of your palate waiting to be noticed. It’s nice to know he’s there and it’s nice to know he isn’t begging for attention. As crazy as this sounds it’s the type of beer you could even drink warm- hot chocolate for grown-ups? So what became of the 450-year-old brewery? You guessed it, a residential apartment block! It’s not surprising then that the John Young, great-great-grandson of the founder, died only days before the closure. At least beer from the last brew was served at his funeral- true story.
Origin – Australia. South Australia
Style- Honey Ale
The story begins in Madison, Pennsylvania in the summer of 1972. Veda lives in a huge mansion that doubles as the town’s funeral home. Her undertaker father is an awkward widower who doesn’t seem to understand his daughter, and as a result, constantly ignores her. Consequently, Veda spends a lot of time with her friend Thomas, love blossoms and while sitting under a tree by the river, they share an innocent first kiss. Lost in the moment Veda losses her ring, and while in search for it Thomas knocks a beehive. The swarming bees sting him just as he spots ring, and with the precious item still firmly grasped in his hand he sadly dies of an allergic reaction. Sound familiar? Well, it’s not the quite the story of Barossa Valley Brewing, rather 1991 hit movie My Girl. I could, however, had done with an empty when watching to collect the tears streaming down my face rather than them soaking my shirt! Nevertheless, there are some similarities. Denham D’Silva, the founder of BVB, also spent a lot of time with a friend named Craft Beer, love blossomed, and it continues to grow, not under a tree down by the river, but in the lush rolling hills of the Barossa. Likewise, he operates his business out of a 100-year-old stone mansion. That said it has had a ‘little’ renovation work done, and now includes an extension which houses an impressive five vessel brewhouse, an eight-tap brew pub, and from what I’m told a mighty fine restaurant. But given it’s located in one of our country’s foremost wine regions, is there really an appetite for beer? I guess D’Silva’s now dozen years of brewing is the answer to that. And it all started with this unique little Honey Ale. To state the obvious, it pours golden and has a sweet nose of honey, not as strong as a mead ale, but in that direction. The use of Barossa orange blossom honey delivers a sweet flavour profile that is balanced with some floral hops. She’s crisp and dry with and finishes with, what for it….a lingering honey flavour. It’s different, it’s drinkable, even the packaging is pretty funky looking, but would I run through a swamp of bees to grab another? Probably not.
Origin – New Zealand
Style- Indian Pale Ale
In 2015 the Wellington-based Garage Project took out the number one ranking in the Deloitte Fast 50, while earlier this year Singapore Airlines teamed up with them to put its beer on all flights to and from NZ. But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, I bet if you told brothers, Pete and Ian Gillespie, and their old mate Jos Ruffell, after they had just brewed their first 50L batch from within a derelict petrol station, surrounded by busted-up engines and old rusty cars, that these feats would even be a best-case scenario, I’m confident they’d have politely told you to ‘get munted’. But as they say, timing is everything. And although these days there’s a microbrewery on every street corner, back in 2011 Wellington’s bohemian-minded population was desperate for something other commercial beers, and Garage Project was their saviour. That said it wasn’t all fluke either. Pete, the brewing brains of the operation, already had a CV to make most craftys envious, with decades of experience working in breweries across the UK (Brakespear and Hepworth) and Australia (Maltshovel), and Jos was also well connected with the owner of Hashigo Zake, Wellingtons top-tier bar who first served up this local beer innovation for the trio. And an innovation in beer it was, with a new beer severed up every week for the first six months. Word spread, fans swarmed and Garage Project grew. However, the innovation remains, with the lads every month still selling 25-plus different beers. In the past 6 years they have produced a mind-blowing 129 different varieties, including ‘Beyond The Pale’, a white tea- and jasmine-laced sour wheat ale, ‘Cabbages and Kings’, an Imperial Oyster Stout brewed with fresh Te Matua Bay Pacific oysters, and this ‘Garagista’, a double dry hopped IPA. And although it sounds much less unusual, don’t be fooled. Pouring a deep orange colour with a surprisingly solid creamy head, the hop aroma of this Indian Pale Ale is so intense you can smell it from across the room, leaving you wanting to continue inhaling this tropical and citrus fruit aroma. But get around to drinking it, and you notice the full-bodied mouth feel is as unique as it is amazing, being dominated by the big citrus hops with the malt sweetness seemingly restraining it just enough, ensuring equals parts sweetness and bitterness in the long lingering finish. So next time you kick off the jandals, grab some hot chups and set sail for the South Island, make sure you’ve got plenty of these in your chilly bin, they’ll ensure you don’t become thirsty should you become beached as!