Crafty Corner: winter hops

July 9, 2024
2 mins read

ASHTON BROWN proves that hops put a spring in your step even in the depths of winter by supping on crazy, hazy and even hairy beers.

Kia Ora cornering crafters. Welcome to another edition of Crafty Corner. This week I was lucky enough to be sent four beers that rated highly at the recent New World Beer & Cider Awards. Each of these beers were judged in this year’s competition and all placed in the top 30.

Desperate Glory – 8 Wired

I started this tasting session with the ‘Supreme Winner’ of the 2024 awards, From 8 Wired, a fantastic brewery based in Warkworth.

Described as a complex, tart yet sweet beer with flavours such as vanilla, cocoa and cherry, it comes in a tall bottle with a whopping 8% ABV, and this Oud Bruin (Old Brown) was aged in oak bourbon for 12 months.

It’s an interesting and bold choice for such a top award, but honestly though, it tasted like cold mulled wine. There were just too many flavours clashing here for my liking and while I admit I’m not usually a dark beer drinker, I was really surprised at how overwhelming the flavour profiles were. I think the decision to make it a sour beer on top of all the already rich flavours took it a step too far for my tastebuds. The mix of sour with dates, raisins, vanilla, cocoa, cherry – strong flavours in their own right – meant that there were too many tastes happening at once to fully appreciate. This one is definitely not for me.

Big Hairy – Lakeman

The next in our tasting session was a Lakeman Big Hair APA (American Pale Ale). I have big expectations when it comes to APAs because it’s my favourite style of crafty. Fortunately, Lakeman did not disappoint – this is the perfect APA. It’s incredibly well-balanced, hoppy and citrusy, with a decent 6% ABV but brewed in a way that the flavour doesn’t get lost in the alcohol content. I could drink this all day, it’s really hard to fault. It’s so well balanced that nothing stands out in terms of flavour, but all the flavours work together rather than competing against each other for your taste buds, which I found was the biggest problem with the Desperate Glory. The judges agreed it was a “well-rounded beer” and I support these sentiments entirely.

Highly recommend.

Reverb – Emerson’s

Next was from Emerson’s Brewery – a NZ IPA which scored in the top 4 this year. According to the New World website, you should expect a flavour akin to “Juicy Fruit Gum”. I found it to be a pretty standard IPA, hoppy, refreshing but typical. It has a nice blend of Aotearoa grown hops but it wouldn’t stand out to me in a sea of IPA options. It had a very malty presence, with a hint of the danky hop taste I demand in my IPAs but I found the malt was too strong to fully appreciate this dank undertone. Delicious but not exceptional.

Crazy Hazy Daze – Mount Brewing Co.

Last but certainly not least was the entry from Mount Brewing Co. with a stunning Hazy IPA. I absolutely adore Hazy’s but I’m also extremely critical of them given I have such expectations and this beer was absolutely everything I could want from a Hazy.

A perfect mix of dank and fruit flavours with a slightly dry hoppy taste and an absolute juice bomb of flavour with a citrus blend that borders on being overpowering but instead hits the tastebuds absolutely perfectly. It wakes your taste buds up with a very unsubtle flavour of pineapple and that almost orange juicy hit that you expect from a Hazy.

At 6.4% ABV this was a nice way to finish off this tasting session.

Overall an interesting range of beers, flavours and styles in this year’s awards – head over to the New World website to see the entire top 30 from this year’s competition.

Ashton Brown is Witchdoctor's craft beer writer and film reviewer, and a self-professed geek, horror fanatic and post-rock enthusiast.

Ashton Brown is a freelance reviewer, writer, actor and director. You may have seen him on some ads (he's the big hairy guy) or at the NZ Comedy Festival. He's Witchdoctor's craft beer writer and film reviewer, and a self-professed geek, horror fanatic and post-rock enthusiast.

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