Here's to the world's first known whisky-beer

Last updated 05:00 28/04/2011
NO GIMMICK: Stu McKinlay considers this whisky-beer his best work, with a taste
ANDREW GORRIE/ The Dominion Post

NO GIMMICK: Stu McKinlay considers this whisky-beer his best work, with a taste "more intense than wood smoke'' and having an earthy character.

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It's said to taste like bacon, smoked kippers or medicine – so if you don't savour the world's first known whisky-beer, you'll definitely be spitting it out.

Wellington brewers Yeastie Boys have developed what they say is the world's first "whisky-beer", a golden ale made from 100 per cent peat-smoked, Scottish distilling malt.

"We thought we'd have a crack at it, and when we tasted it I knew we were going to have a winner," brewer Stu McKinlay said. "I didn't really think it would result in that – I thought it would be so intense it would be undrinkable."

Since then he and business partner Sam Possenniskie have heard the taste compared to bacon, medicine, coal tar and smoked kippers, and admit "Rex Attitude" won't be for everyone.

"At a craft brewery you want to make something that people will either love or hate. It's not some bland thing you drink for the sake of drinking."

But Mr McKinlay considers the beer his best work, describing the taste as "more intense than wood smoke", with an earthy character.

"It will be pretty unusual, but it's not a gimmick at all. We've created enough to make it a permanent beer."

While some beers contained whisky malt in small amounts – about 1 per cent to 3 per cent – beer aficionado Neil Miller said Yeastie Boys had gone "way off the charts" by using 100 per cent. It was especially unusual for a golden ale, usually made from pale or pilsner malts.

"It's an unprecedented amount of smoked malt in New Zealand, it's probably as much as has been used in New Zealand brewing in the last 10 years, and they're using it for one beer.

"I wouldn't be surprised if no-one's tried this before."

The staple ingredient in beer and whisky is barley. During brewing the grain is fermented, while in whisky-making it is distilled.

Rex Attitude was essentially beer made with a whisky ingredient, and would certainly be "interesting", Mr Miller said. Two tonnes of Scottish malt had been imported to make it. It has a recommended retail price of $5.40 for a 330ml bottle, with an alcohol content of 7 per cent. It will be launched at Regional Wines and Spirits in Wellington on Saturday.

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