Not in a sitting mind you (though by the look of my bank balance and the feeling of my head on Sunday morning, I think I came close on Saturday night). Also, I’ve had a lot more than 500 beers over my time, I mean, that’s probably the last couple months worth if you’re counting every individual pint that washes down my gullet. No, I’ve very recently checked into Untappd with my 500th unique beer (and then soon after afterward added another couple dozen to the list).
When I mention this to most of my friends they make it seem like it’s an achievement. I’ve had someone ask me if there are even 500 different kinds of beer. Most of my beer drinking friends however have asked me why it took me so long to get to this point. One of my friends, the ever-quaffing Libertarian Greig, has over 2,700 unique beers checked in, and he’d have at least as many that he would have had prior to joining Untappd.
But hey, I feel pretty happy about the beers I’ve had. More than a few have escaped my notice the first time I’ve had them, probably due to being three sheets to the wind the first time I’ve had them, but plenty have stuck with me, making me wish I could go back to that first time I tasted them, or even go back to a time when they were even available (and due to the batch-brewing process involved with craft beer, going back to when they were good).
Epic – Hop Zombie (Imperial IPA)
Ah, the Zombie. Most of New Zealand’s beer nerds go nuts for it, and half of them have the t-shirt (and at least one of my friends wears one every time he expects to be in the same room as the brewer, Luke Nicholas).
If it weren’t for this beer I probably wouldn’t have met most of my current crew of friends. Back in 2011 I was walking past House on Hood and noticed that they had a sign out advertising that they had it on tap, which led me to take a small detour since I’d never drank it on tap (along with most of the craft beers in my fledgling drinking career). Bumping into one friend, and commandeering a seat at the table, I ended up somehow pushing myself into this group of beer drinkers and seeing them almost weekly since.
About the beer? Well, it’s deceptively alcoholic, loaded with enough hop character to kick your ass, but enough in the malt end to balance it all out. Damned tasty is all that needs to be said.
Epic – Barrel Aged IPA (Aged IPA)
Armageddon is another beer that I think should be on this list, but it doesn’t bring back the memories as much as its barrel aged counterpart. Like Hop Zombie, Armageddon is a technically excellent example of an IPA (that I always thought was a little gimmicky with its advertised alcohol content of 6.66% by volume). There would be times when I might reach for an Armageddon over a Zombie though, as it’s hoppy enough without making you feel you’ve been beaten by a hop bine.
Enough about a beer I’m not putting on the list. The barrel aged version was one of those few beers that blew my socks off enough at the early stage in my craft beer to make me take trips specially to locate it. It was Armageddon, but muted, with a character that your mouth just wanted more and more of. Hamilton got one of the last kegs in existence poured at Gothenburg, which was my first ‘meet the brewer’ experience (as well as my first experience drinking IPA in a wine glass, which I 100% approve of).
It hasn’t been around for a few years now, which I assume is due to the expense in procuring oak barrels. You can be sure though, if it turns up again, I will be waiting outside a bottle shop/bar to get another.
Brewaucracy – In Triplicate (Belgian Tripel)
Ridiculously quaffable for a 10.5% beer (though I’m sure the number has shifted around a lot between batches). I really should call it a Belgian-Style, since it’s actually brewed at the Shunter’s Yard brewery in Matangi.
This beer is incredibly memorable due to me having helped bottle a batch of it, and being paid in product (both half a case to take home, as well as a good amount of “samples” handed around the bottling line for quality control, of course). It of course doesn’t hurt that each Brewaucracy beer is incredibly memorable since I’m mates with their brewers.
Yeastie Boys – Rex Attitude (Smoked Beer)
I kinda use this as a way to troll my friends. If ever someone asks me to introduce them to some craft beers I’ll try and set up some of the simple, less out there beers to get them into it, and then some of this to shock them.
This is craft beer at its most polarising. Most of my friends hate it. Almost everyone I’ve ever introduced to it has mentioned flavours like “ointment”, “burning”, and “oh my god how can you drink that?”.
It’s made entirely with peated malt, which is more commonly used for scotch whiskies. Generally a beer recipe might have a tiny amount to give it a touch of smokiness, but the Yeastie Boys obviously don’t like adding a touch of anything. The main reason I enjoy it so much is due to my love of peated scotches, such as Laphroaig and Octomore
Garage Project – La Calavera Catrina (Chilli Beer)
I love spicy food, and it’s no surprise that I also love spicy beer. Most chilli beers I’ve had are darker, to give a bit of weight behind the spiced flavour (as well as chocolate notes most of the time, since chilli and chocolate work so well). This beer is a pale lager though, that is brewed with watermelon, and habanero peppers to give it a bigger kick than most other chilli beers out there. It’s really crisp to start off, but then all of a sudden the chilli kicks you in the face.
My first taste of this beer is memorable also, but that’s because it was rather sad, and I’d prefer not to go into it here.
That’s five beers, the first ones to mind whenever someone asks me what the best or most interesting beers I’ve ever had are. Thoughts? Got a beer recommendation you’d like to share yourself? Feel free to leave a comment.