Having an ale of a time
My local community has a Facebook group and it's a great place to interact about what's going on in the area - where to find a good plumber, a house-sitter, a good place to eat.
When I broadcast my intention to start a beer-tasting group I was hoping for some positive responses and maybe half a dozen of us getting together around my dining table.
Well, as one person responded: "What have you started, Michael?"
The response was phenomenal.
At one stage I thought I might have to hire a hall to accommodate all those who said they were keen.
Eventually, with a few apologies for holidays and other commitments from some, 12 like-minded blokes gathered at my place for the inaugural Titirangi Beer Appreciation Society meeting.
It was a brilliant couple of hours and reminded me that while drinking beer is great, sharing beer is even better.
Getting together over a few beers - even when they're carefully measured 90ml samples - is all about sociability.
Yes, we talked about beer but also fishing, real estate, sport, social media and even art. I had tentatively suggested a once a month meeting but the enthusiasm is likely to make it a fortnightly event.
But I figure what you really want to know is the tasting list for this inaugural get-together. I was unsure how much everyone would know about beer so I picked what I would call a starter's list of Kiwi craft beers.
First up we sampled Yeastie Boys' Hobbit-inspired Golden Perch, an incredibly delicious summer ale with a hint of bubblegum to it. I wanted to start out with something light and approachable but unique and it was a roaring success, remaining among the favourites through the night.
I made a mistake by following that with Emerson's Bookbinder, a great session ale but possibly overwhelmed by the Golden Perch - I should have reversed those two.
Tuatara Pilsner with its snappy New Zealand hops was followed by the crowd-pleaser of the night, Liberty Brewing's Alpha Dogg, an imperial pilsner that lives up to its name and packs a real hop punch.
We then went through a range of variations on India Pale Ale - New Zealand, American and English styles - starting with Tuatara's Aotearoa Pale Ale, followed by Epic's Armageddon and then I pulled out a bottle of Epic's Message in a Bottle, which was warmly received for its rich toffee malt and earthy hops.
To bridge the gap to some evening-ending rich porters, I went for Yeastie Boys' Pot Kettle Black but was disappointed to see all three bottles fizz and gush. I'd struck the last few bottles from a bad batch, a problem Yeastie Boys has since fixed.
Mike's Imperial Porter, a luscious, velvet chocolately dessert-style beer, challenged both Golden Perch and Alpha Dogg for the top drop of the night and I finished, cheekily, with one of my own beers - a pumpkin porter made with
cinnamon, star anise and nutmeg.
Maybe everyone had palate fatigue by then but it went down a treat - like the night itself.
Sunday Star Times