It's beer, but not as you - or Wellington brewer Kieran Haslett-Moore - know it.
Cherries, pinot noir grapes and an almost-forgotten 1930s recipe came into play at the fifth Society of Beer Advocates (Soba) Winter Ale Festival at Victoria University's Hunter Lounge in Wellington on Saturday.
Soba president David Wood said numbers were up by about 100 on last year.
Twenty-eight beers were available yet only one lager - a beer so unusual it was only categorised as lager because of the yeast used.
The Garage Project Chateau Aro was, in fact, an 8.5 per cent lager made of pinot noir grapes from Escarpment Winery in Martinborough.
But that whopping alcohol percentage was nothing compared to the Mikkeller Black Imperial Stout, a Danish beer that weighed in at 18 per cent.
It was so potent it was only being dispensed in limited doses. Punter Aaron Bird said it was "probably a little bit strong. It tastes like alcohol".
Others rated it as the beer of the festival. Wood said while that beer was available outside the festival, others had been made specially.
Haslett-Moore showcased his North End Southerly Front, made at a brewery he is setting up in Waikanae.
The recipe was for a "burton ale" - a once-popular brew in London that had almost been forgotten. One of the key ingredients was flaked maize.
WHAT THEY SAID
Warren Tombs, 64, a groundsman of Petone: Of the ones I have tried so far, the Moa Cherry Sour. Initially, smell, taste wise it was not very good but it grows on you. It's a pallet cleanser, one of those beers you get half way through a session.
Simon Edwards, 46, an acupuncturist and part-time brewer of Thorndon: The Mikkeller Imperial Stout. Getting 18 percent into a beer and not really being able to taste the alcohol is really skillful from a brewing point of view. It didn't have a hot alcohol flavour. You would never know it's 18 percent.
Mya Listom-Lloyd, 22, a student and bar worker of Kelburn: Baylands Brewing Black is Back. It's really nice, sweet, fruity, with a good aroma.
Andy McKenzie, in his 40s, a mathematician of Maupuia: Fork & Brewer Dark Vader Imperial Dark Ale: It was delicious. Even after six or seven other beers you still tasted it. It stood out straight away.
Fiona Cowles, 31, an underwriter of Johnsonville: Mike's Whiskey Porter: I'm not a beer connoisseur. It's just tasty.
- The Dominion Post
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