From Drinker to Brewer
So if you've been living under a digital rock for the past few days, I may as well let you know that the royals are in the country.
For the next few days, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will make their away around the country to see the sights, wear outfits women are jealous of, show off our future head of state, and yack to politicians.
Our elected representatives have already been bickering about the event though, with Labour leader David Cunliffe saying the prime minister is milking the event to get some good photo opportunities in an election year.
John Key would know all about photo ops with Prince William after all, as the prince's last visit here resulted in one of the most ''blokey'' shots Key has had in his career yet - Key swilling some lager while he and the then-unmarried prince cooked some of the biggest slabs of meat I've ever seen put on a grill.
While Wellington's weather has not been conducive towards barbequing, there has been beer involved on this trip.
Beer writer Neil Miller, who admits to having Republican tendencies, hosted a New Zealand beer tasting for the media contingent who travelled from the United Kingdom for the tour.
And while introducing our finest brews to journalists from the home of real ale is a great thing to do, I wish he could have been hosting a beer tasting for the Duke and Duchess.
So what should the Duke and Duchess be given if they were to experience the best of New Zealand beer? Say, the five beers they should drink?
The Republicans among us would probably give them Rheineck, Viking, Tui, Lion Red and DB Bitter, but I would rather send them back with memories of good beer.
1) Emerson's Bookbinder - a taste of home, but with a new world twist, is what Bookbinder would be to anyone from England who knows a thing or two about beer. Four types of malt and two Nelson-grown hop varieties - Fuggles and Riwaka - create a traditional English bitter with so much flavour packed into its 3.7 per cent ABV frame, I am pleasantly confused every time I try it.
2) Wigram Spruce Beer - while The Mussel Inn's Captain Cooker is arguably our most famous manuka beer, Wigram's is said to be a closer match to the first beer brewed in New Zealand. Captain James Cook brewed an ale using molasses, manuka and rimu when he hit the shores of Aotearoa, and the Christchurch brewery does the same today. The unconventional ingredients create an aroma which screams of tramping through native bush, while the ginger flavour gives a spicy finish.
3) Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta - oh c'mon, you cannot tell me one of the most English couples in the world would not love a tea-infused beer. It contains Earl Grey instead of the classic English Breakfast, but the intense floral aroma and juicy hop finish goes down well with almost anyone who tries it. And if they really enjoy it, they can get a hand pumped cask version of it when they get home. But at 6.5 per cent ABV, it may not be the best choice for afternoon tea.
4) 8 Wired Hopwired - while England may be the home of India pale ale, it got transformed in the United States into a style known for its massive doses of hops. With the unique hops grown in New Zealand renowned for their distinctive flavour, it was only a matter of time before a brewer her put them into an IPA. Naturally, in the spirit of foreigners using our stuff better than we do, the Danish brewer Søren Eriksen made what he believed was the first IPA with all New Zealand-grown pale ale malt and hops. Still a benchmark on the New Zealand market, Hopwired's intense aroma and tongue-numbing bitterness would jolt any lingering jetlag out of the royal couple.
5) Townshend's Flemish Stout - if the royal are going to have some weird, it may as well come from a fellow Brit. Now living in Upper Moutere, English expatriate Martin Townshend's brews have made him the second-best brewer in the country, and it is easy to see why after drinking any of his beers. But the jewel in his brewery's crown is this rich, smooth, deliciously tart stout. The royals could also take a few bottles away to cellar, or to make their time in Australia a bit more bearable.
What beer would you give the royal couple?
- Manawatu Standard