Category Archives: Randoms

Aged beers

Words by Greasylightbulb

After a hiatus that was threatening to turn epochal, the Thirsty Boys finally managed to be in the same place at the same time and in the company of a themed beer selection. It’s certainly not that we hadn’t been drinking in the meantime, it’s just that orderly structure had eventually given way to a pleasant casual whimsy. However much like a room of monkeys on typewriters, all we had to do was wait long enough and this day was bound to happen.

Being nothing if not contrary, it was decided to ignore the fresh sensorial delights of the current wet hop season and instead explore the dusty old box that had been unearthed when I recently moved house. I knew there had been some bottles somewhere in the garage, some of which had been put away on purpose, others less so. I hoped some might be nice, but figured that even if not, then it could provoke interesting discussion about the whys and wherefores of ageing beers.


 1. The Bruery Saison Rue (8.5% ABV)

bruery saison rue

The box turned out to contain a pleasingly wide variety of beer styles. First up being a 2012 Saison from Orange County’s Belgianesque The Bruery. They no longer make this under the same label, but spinoff brand Bruery Terreux do. It’s made with rye and bottle conditioned with some brettanomyces. Described in the literature as rich and hoppy when fresh, but expected to “…dry out and become more complex with rustic notes of leather and earth” with age.

On the day it was delightfully classy start to proceedings, with the advertised earth and leather propped up against a fruitiness which opened up and became more complex a little while after decanting.

“Subtle and aromatic” The Jesuit

“Held its malt body really well” Gingerbeardyman

“Hints of sherried honey and spice” Greasylightbulb

It was enjoyed by Malice who normally finds saisons hard to like; and also Troughboy even though he considered his tastebuds to be unenlightened despite all the practise they were getting. It was superbly well matched to a round of Tenara ashed goats cheese from Kaikoura which the Lady Piemaker had kindly provided

This very vintage won Best beer of 2012 by Wine Enthusiast magazine. We gave it 7/10 Man Points (see here for no real explanation at all), though we scored all beers at the end of the tasting which leads to something akin to curved grading.


2. Chimay Bleue/Grand Reserve (9% ABV)


Iconic strong Belgian ale from 2012. Quite a lot of information and opinions are available in the internet bout the ageing of this and other Trappist beers. Although exact character will vary with vintage, the size of bottle, and the way it is stored. As a crude rule, 3-4 years in bottle appears to be considered a peak time. It’s intricacies on the palate left the Thirsties grasping for likenesses

“Raspberryish” Lady Piemaker

“Fruit preserve on burnt toast” Gingerbeardyman

“It’s Christmas cakey” Lady Piemaker

Conversation then turned tangentially to how hipsters were now drinking the iconic Scottish budget fighting juice Buckfast, the origin of the hipster culture, and merits of artisanal firewood.

(8 Man Points)


3. Invercargill Brewery Pitch Black Imperial Stout (9% ABV)


Batch barrel aged in central Otago Pinot Noir barrels for 3 months, then left to its own devices in Greasy’s garage for 3 years. Invercargill say it “….will only improve with age”. Despite an erratic supply this far North (unlike a few years ago when we could get our hands on an extended range)  Invercargill brewery are still warmly regarded by several of the Thirsties. Would age legitimise that fondness or highlight the erraticism? Well with minimal carbonation it poured an enticing deep walnut tinge and….

“coffee and blackberry” The Jesuit

“ a good dessert evening beer, great with ice cream” Lady Piemaker “…and chocolate”

Though its impossible to know, we felt it would risk getting a bit flabby with more time, so were happy to revel in it’s gorgeousness for now

(9 Man Points)


4. 8 Wired the Sultan (10% ABV)


This sultana-containing Quadrupel was the originator of the stash for ageing. It was picked up at Wellington’s Beervana festival in 2011 or 2012; memory failing me slightly. However I do remember the distinct feeling that it was a) amazing, and b) could be even more so. Hence putting it away and trying harder not to drink it than I normally try not to drink things. The bottle blurb states it would continue to develop for 3-4 years.

“..has a tartness to it” The Jesuit

“This is like a beer you drink just by itself, you don’t need food with it” Lady Piemaker

It was agreed that we’d like to have another one, which was a problem since sadly it appears to be discontinued by 8 Wired. This is an inherent risk in ageing beers, in small volume anyway. When you get it right, and find yourself relaxing in the glow of a decadent complex beer at its peak, the feeling risks being tinged with the regret of not buying and keeping more at the time.

(8.5 Man Points)


5. Liberty Brewing Renall’s Towards Muriwai (11% ABV)


You may have notice that the proceedings have gone Belgian – stout – Belgian – stout, turns out it’s not easy to order this selection. I went with anticipated size and body rather than beer type (then stuck the freak at the end…). Other suggestions would be welcomed though!

Anyway: back to Liberty. Described as a “Black Forest Stout” this single batch from 2012 contains a hefty dose of sour morello cherries. It was made for Brewers Guild New Zealand awards, and won a medal. However it really has its roots in a much more personal symbolism. It commemorates Liberty Brewing’s Joe and Chistina Wood’s 12 years of marriage. Apparently they were aiming for 12% ABV, but missed. I hope that fact isn’t symbolic of anything. Muriwai was a special place in their youth and the beautiful label was by an art teacher from the college they met at. It really was a bottle with sophisticated elegance. I remembered thinking it as a good end-of-night beer originally, but our commentary suggests that the effects of time may have shifted its optimum place in one’s daily routine.

“A beer for breakfast” Lady Piemaker “ coffee”

“Good with porridge and brown sugar” The Jesuit

Compared with the rest of the night’s dancecard it didn’t have as much depth or complexity of flavour. But we did wonder what it would be like with even more age. Since it was my last bottle, the regret firmly took hold.

7/10 Man Points

See more by the label’s artist Sarah McBeath at

Renall's towards Muriwai col

Renall’s Towards Muriwai by Sarah McBeath 


6. Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Jack and Ken’s ale (10.2%)

sierra nevada

This American dark barley wine is the oldest of the bunch. Crafted in 2010 as one of four commemorative and collaborative brews to celebrate Sierra Nevada’s 30th anniversary. This one was a collaboration with Jack McAuliffe of New Albion Brewing who has been described as the first American microbrewer. It is said that… “this robust ale should age gracefully for years”. Today we could prove it.

“That’s an incredibly great beer… just the balance between all the elements” Gingerbeardyman

“I once drank a bottle of this on my own, I was very swirly” The Jesuit

(at the 65 IBUs) “oh no, it’s not bitter, at least I don’t think it is bitter” Lady Piemaker

“Layers of liquid liquorice” Greasylightbulb

“ has a serial moreishness” the ever quotable Gingerbeardyman

“I don’t see how it could get any better” Greasylightbulb

(9.5 Man Points)


7. De Molen Raad & Daad (6.5% ABV)


Not much could be researched about this oak aged sour from 2013. Brouwerij De Molen themselves had no mention of it on their website. There’s a discussion on about how the bottle was made differently to the draught. Google translates the name as possibly meaning council and deed. Mysterious. Very different style to the other beers, as apparent in the atmosphere created by the swirling glasses.

“oh no” Troughboy’s prospect

“…a felonious aroma” The Jesuit

“Genuinely embodies horse saddle sweat” Greasylightbulb

“Sweet and sour acidity” Troughboy

“It has candy to it” Lady Piemaker

Scoring was divisive, but averaged out at 6/10


Well what could we conclude from the evening? Apart from wishing I’d saved the Sierra Nevada for last. Exploring the effects of ageing would be much more successfully achieved if we had tried aged beers alongside their more youthful versions. Some American brewers are now branding some of their range as “vertical beers” for this express purpose. Unfortunately some of our brews were batches never again repeated, denying us that opportunity. But we can safely say that this selection was aged and it was delicious. Relying on our memories somewhat, they were generally felt to be more complex and interesting than they had been originally. I’ve decided imperial stouts and barley wines are the ones to put aside for me, so I’m off to find some more to fill that new hole in the garage.


Aged Beers – The Empties

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Recently, a few of the Thirsties had a chance to get a close up look at this tattoo on local brewer Shiggy of Funk Estate. A great composition and low-key use of colour and shade – it’s all about the hops. Tattooing by Tim Gau of Renegade Tattoo, Wellington, New Zealand.



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A Drinking Man’s Diet

Words and barber recommendations by Greasylightbulb

Like some of the Thirsty Boys, our reader(s) may have found a hobby of beer appreciation and mediocre poetry can conflict with an attempt to lead a vaguely healthy lifestyle. It’s not that it has to be an inherent problem for a drinker of moderation to fight the battle between a bulging waist line and those oh-so-beautiful little beery calories; it’s just that in a busy modern lifestyle the time to add some yin to that yan can be hard to find. Luckily there’s a whole bunch of diets out there that could be applied instead. You know, if you actually wanted to. Well now we’ve got one that allows you to have “two martinis or bourbon, scotch or rye before lunch, and thick steak generously spread with Sauce Bearnaise“….  so stick that in your Paleo/Atkins/HCG/etc pipe and smoke it, where do I sign?


The Drinking Man’s Diet

Now I’m not about to start drinking before lunchtime in order to lose the impressive sounding 15-20 pounds a month (7-9 kg), but I am interested in how it would work. Perhaps those bourbons get you so tiddly you forget to order lunch? Or maybe after repeatedly turning up at the office smelling of Scotch and Martini a period of unemployment leads to an inability to buy fatty food? The principle gives away that actually it is a version of the Atkins Nutritional Approach. Legend tells that this Drinking Man’s Diet started with William the Conqueror when he became too heavy to be carried by horseback. In response he stopped eating but “took up” drinking, and the pounds flew off. The more modern version understands that we sometimes need to eat, possibly at an important work lunch in order to seal that big business deal or secure the Blahblah account, so altered the ration of food:alcohol to be less extreme. It features meals that include Chateau Lafitte and Champagne, so no wonder it sold over two million copies.  In case we were in doubt, there were testimonials too:

Daisy T., showgirl”: “Believe me, it was no fun being taken out to a swell place and all you could eat was some celery and yogurt. Now I order double lamb chops.”

Although the diet’s popularity was short lived due to famous nutritionalist Frederick Stare calling it “mass murder”, it’s author Robert Cameron made a fortune & lived into his nineties. So there. Sadly despite the fact I’d happily pay $1.00 to find out the details, we may be too late for that particular deal as this ad was seen in a 1960’s vintage copy of Man Magazine…… It is however available on Amazon for just $3.30, inflation be damned.

Well groomed Wellington gents who frequent Lance & Michael at Courtenay Barbers may have stumbled across their copies of Man recently. This wee gem of political incorrectness from a bygone age is a Mad Men-esque publication featuring articles on manly hobbies such as golf and embracing alcoholism; short fiction in which the female characters are pretty much just punctuation; and tips like how to adapt your wife’s favorite recipes into something you could seduce your lover with. Of course there are a few photo shoots of naked young ladies too, just in case the reader never got to find out what they actually looked like.

Man Magazine

More about Man magazine here, it really is a hilarious read.

The Drinking Man’s Diet has it’s own Facebook page! …..Won’t somebody think of the children etc and so on

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Secret Santa’s Thirstyboy surprise 2013

This personalised coaster turned up under one of the Thirstyboys (karori fry up) Christmas trees a few months ago. Nice job…unidentified designer-person, nice job.







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David Tua inspired a craft beer?

Did you know Samoan heavyweight boxer David Tua inspired the brewing of a craft beer in New Zealand? I just posted this week’s haiku (below), and in the accompanying photograph are four glasses of the 8 Wired Bumaye and a larger glass of a beer called “Ø for Awesome“. It’s named after a phrase made famous by Tua. Check out this story…

As beer scribe Neil Miller recounts “On 10 October 1992, heavyweight boxer David Tua appeared on a celebrity episode of the inexplicably popular Kiwi version of the trite game show“Wheel of Fortune”.  While no one remembers the performance of his alleged co-celebrities actor Andy Anderson and Fair Go reporter Rosalie Nelson, David Tua entered popular folklore by uttering three famous words.  Asked by host Philip Leishman for a consonant, Tua appeared to request an “O for Awesome”.”

Today, if you say “o for awesome” in New Zealand, there’s a good chance people know the moment you are referring to. Fast forward to February 2012, and the moment inspires the collaborative brewing of an Imperial Amber Ale by brewers 8 Wired, Renaissance and Nøgne Ø.

As a New Zealand born Samoan / Irish man I have waited to taste this beer and experience its awesomeness for over year (since I heard about it). On Tuesday night after work, I hoofed it over to Hashigo Zake Cult beer bar, where my gingerbearded, Scottish friend (and former u boat captain) presented me with a beer from what was advertised as “the last known keg of Ø for Awesome.” 

It's O - O for awesome!

It’s O – Ø for Awesome!

It was pretty awesome….firstly, because it comes in at 9% (so you won’t be drinking it by the six pack at the Apia Way Niteclub); secondly, it tastes rich and toffee/chocolately (so you won’t be knockin’ it back); and thirdly,  because according to Miller, it has “one of the longest beer names in recent New Zealand history:  “8 Wired/Renaissance/Nøgne Ø – Ø for awesome (9% 75 IBU)”.”  It was also awesome to be sipping it with the Thirsties. The proprietor of the bar said he hadn’t had it in since the end of 2012. So…choohooo!

There is no argument that Tua is awesome….and I think it’s awesome that his modest contribution to the “popular lexicon” is celebrated in New Zealand beer geekdom in this memorable way …but you’ve got to read Neil Miller’s original blog to get an expanded telling of this beer story. Check it out here.


…comes in bottles?


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