The mixed six is always a popular item on the beer shelves, a sampler pack showcasing the most popular offerings from a brewery. We thought it would be fun to ask some of our favourite brewers to curate a more personal mixed six: a sort of beery Desert Island Discs, if you will. Three beers of theirs, three from other breweries. First at bat is Jason Bathgate, head brewer at McLeod’s.
Favourite beer in your core range?
Our core range is by far the area I worked hardest on over the years to get them tasting as I want them to. However, the one that has never changed aside from conditioning time, is our Longboarder Lager. A German style Pilsner at heart, but heavily late-hopped with NZ hops, it’s fruity, crisp and has a proper bitterness that makes it clean on the palate. We have added in new tanks just to keep up with the demand, and now we can make larger batches and lager them longer. Most in the market currently are lagered for three months. This has made them even better! Terrible idea from a financial perspective, but brilliant for a balanced beer.
The beer you are most proud of?
A tough question: we are pretty humble, and I am definitely our worst critic. Finding faults in our beers is my job, so picking a favorite is challenging. A couple years ago we made a Belgian Style Quadruple Aged in Bourbon Casks as part of our Smugglers Bay collection. A beast of a beer, then we aged it in Brown Foreman casks for a few months, then we bottle-conditioned it. It was sublime, rich toffee and spice with just the right amount of bourbon and barrel character. Like crème brulee with a side of bourbon. Sadly, we sold out before I pulled out our library stock. So, if you see this buy it! I have tried to get some back to drink but no luck.
What new beer you are most excited about?
We have a variety of new beers coming out soon, but the one I have been drinking the most of lately is our Great Wave Black Lager. I was trying to make a beer similar to Asahi Dark; it turns out it is really difficult to make a beer not taste like anything. I wanted an uncomplicated dark beer that has a hint of flavour but is refreshing and dry. I think we did OK. Wet with a hint of cocoa…
First beer you fell in love with?
Ahhh, there have been so many loves but the first beer that changed my perspective on what beer is Maudite from Unibrou in Canada. Brilliantly strong, malty Belgian Ale: 9 per cent and bottle-conditioned. The beer that introduced me to hops was Big Foot Barley Wine from Sierra Nevada USA. Amazing annual release. Hopped to the limits, bitter, rich and smooth. Like sipping pine trees with a caramel lolly.
Global beer you’d like to have now?
Heaps of beers fall under this list, but for this exercise Allagash White from Maine, USA. This amazing brewery in the late 90s decided to make a Belgian-style Wit their flagship beer. That was a serious uphill climb! Likely made Rob, the owner, cry a few times over the lack of interest. However, this beer is a desert island beer for sure. A little more hoppy than the ‘traditional*’ versions (*that is a whole article in itself) but floral, citrusy and has an amazing mouthfeel and dry finish. Glorious in all its beauty.
A New Zealand beer you are enjoying lately?
From a brewer’s perspective I would say a rising star is Shining Peak Brewery. All of their beers are tasting great, and their labels are sharp. They have been going from strength to strength. They are building an excellent reputation for quality, one to watch for sure.