When there's no moa love

I have a love-hate relationship with a lot of things.

Big dogs, extremely hot chilli sauce and cloth Chuck Taylors (brilliant in summer, rubbish in the rain) are just three things that can be both brilliant and bloody annoying.

Some days they're exactly what you need, while on others you want nothing to do with them - especially if they're foaming at the mouth and chasing you down the street. 

It is no different in the beer world. There are beers I love one week, yet hate the next. 

Hop-loaded India pale ales and I have that kind of relationship.

Some days all I want is a smack around the chops from something like Epic Hop Zombie, but on others I find IPA's overblown and ridiculous.

They are my beer equivalent of 80s hair metal.

It is rare for me to have a love-hate relationship with a brewery, but I have a long-standing one with Moa Brewing.

I have been on the hate side of the relationship for quite some time, largely due to their marketing campaigns.

They really have done it all: they've insulted Pakistanis, slagged off wineries (despite founder Josh Scott's dad owning one), offended the homosexual community, and been called sexist after their share prospectus included a photo of a woman being used as an ashtray holder.

They claim it is all a bit of fun, and a way to get their name out there.

And it has worked for them, even if their ''shock and awe'' tactics have pissed off plenty in the beer fraternity.

I had stayed away from their beer for a while, until a mixed case landed on my desk.

The accompanying press release said it was Moa's 10th birthday, which is something to be celebrated.

So I took the beers home and, over the course of a few days, celebrated with them by trying out their range.

After seething with hate for so long, it was a shock to rediscover just how good their beers are. 

Their Original lager has a brilliant floral aroma. The pale ale is a balanced example of the style, rather than overblown like others can be.

The Blanc Evolution has coriander added to it, which gives the beer some spice and melds beautifully with the fruity flavours the yeast imparts.

While their Breakfast beer - which was previously called Harvest, presumably another marketing ploy - is one of the worst things I've ever drunk, their Imperial Stout is astounding. 

Aged in pinot noir barrels, the 10.2 per cent beer picks up the fruit flavours from the leftover wine.

It helps smooth out the rough edges and create what is possibly one of my favourite beers.

Look past the brandwank and Moa's beers are brilliant.

Brewer Dave Nicholls really knows what he is doing, and should get a lot more praise than he does for the hard work he puts in.

So am I back in love with Moa? Well, I was - and then they go and make a t-shirt with the word ''negrophiliac'' across the front of it.

I don't know their thinking behind that, but it is another tick in the poor marketing column from my end.

Sometimes it's hard to fall back in love when there's so much to hate.

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Manawatu Standard