The first Bledisloe was on the weekend, which means that it was also time for our annual “Down the All-Blacks” night. The idea being that we get together and bring a different 6 pack of black or dark beer, trying to work out which one we prefer. There’s no science to it, just what tastes the best while the ribs and inch thick steaks and Steve-o’s fresh caught Spanish Mackeral are coming straight off the bbq and the rugby is on.
This time round it was Guinness, James Squire Porter, Toohey’s Old, Carlton Black and Coopers Dark Ale. The James Squire was a rich, deep ruby mahogany colour, a little more complex than a stout. There’s roasted barley and wheat, subtle hops and bitter malt chocolate. The Coopers poured a clear, deep, dark brown body with a very wispy, white head. Very complex in taste with malts and dark caramel, though only a mild sweetness, but it grew watery toward the finish.
Guinness, I’m pretty sure my grandad put this in my bottle as a baby, as well as replacing the oil in his car with it. People either love it or hate it. But I can’t think of a scene more hypnotizing than watching the head of a Guinness appear in a pint glass. 2009 marks the 250th anniversary of the Guinness brewery in Dublin; salute ‘ole Arthur Guinness by raising several of their stouts.
The Toohey’s Old is a full flavoured ale made by top fermentation. The beer is lightly hopped and black malt gives it darker colour. The fruity acid-alcohol compounds blend with the hops and hints of mocha to deliver a unique beer. I’m personally fond of Old. The Carlton Black is another top fermented beer but they use older style yeast. There are mocha aromas and a full-bodied flavour hidden in the deep mahogany colour. We found the Carlton Black rich yet easy to drink.
So which came out on top? Well as we munched, chewed, sipped and slurped our way through the long, long hours of research, we came to no real conclusion. And that in itself is the beauty of a night such as this. On one hand we have several mates unable to agree on which beer was best, but on the other hand it means that we will need more, long hard research, preferably at night with a bbq involved.
But there is a nugget of wisdom to be shared from nights like these. It’s that there is no real “who’s right” and “who’s wrong”. Everyone will taste something different, others might be able to taste what you taste and others will taste something else. And no matter what, you’ll drink what you like.
Yes, there is what I consider major mistakes, like Chilli Beer or Carlton Dry Fusion, but in the end the brewery is still making it, so there are people who like it.
Don’t take this column as gospel, try them for yourself. I always just hope that we have helped point you in the right direction