September started as August finished, locked-down and drinking internet beer.

The Baylands mixed six pack of cans the beer pixies delivered emphasised drinkability with the light and malty Britannia Bitter and lemony Petone Pale Ale standing out. I also had a six-pack of the numbered Hallertau bottles. The choco-coffee Schwarzbier No. 4 was true to style with some nice hop and roasted notes in the finish. The red ale No. 3 had a mildly spicy aroma, a caramel malt note and a drying finish.

The move to alert Level 2 in early September for Wellingtonians was too late to secure a venue for beer club, so we had an online Zoom that was essentially a “drink what you have” session which allowed me to show off a couple of the Belgian beers I had recently bought online, and rubberneck at other people’s houses. The guy with the pole dancing pole in his man cave was generally considered the winner of whatever competition it was.

I started the night with the famous Rodenbach Belgian red ale which came in a 400ml can instead of the cute Belgian bottle. This complex, deeply sour ale blend pours an attractive hazy brown colour with a small beige head. Called Rodenbach Classic, this is a sharp, tart and fruity with some wood action. Next up was another quality beer, Louche Unit – a 6% bretted hazy IPA from Garage Project. Made with twi strains of Brettanomyces, Louche Unit was light-bodied with an aroma of grapefruit and had a sour, wheat beery orange flavour, with pineapple notes and a drying hop finish. I finished with the world-renowned St Bernadus 12 — a quadruple abbey beer. It was, unsurprisingly, a biggy — 10%, full-flavoured with a sweet note.

The Wellington on a Plate festival made a comeback after lockdown, so I had three of the beer-and-burger entries in the Burger Wellington competition. One came without a Garage Project beer — shock, horror! At Husk on Ghuznee Street I had their Choice Bros Starman IPA with a Boozy Bird — a beer-brined chicken burger with bacon jam. The beer was a ‘lean malt’ new world IPA and the chicken was spicy with jalapenos. The Rogue and Vagabond’s burger entry was also spicy chicken, Sichuan style with some big chilli action in the sauce. This was unfortunately too big for the beer match, the light Golden Path hazy which was a 4 per cent quaffer with a pleasant sourish citric flavour. The best burger was the last, the Ndu York, Ndu York at Nolita, a plant-based restaurant and cocktail bar on Cuba Street. The spicy vegan nduja and ‘beef’ patty and great chilli parmesan-salted fries were well matched with Garage Project’s palate cleansing vinegary Pickle Beer.

The drinks version of Burger Wellington is called Cocktail Wellington and each year I seek out the beer cocktails available. I tried the Bee (H)optimistic at Bin 44 on Queens Wharf which was a heady mix of gin, ginger, kawakawa, lemongrass and manuka honey with a Garage Project Garagista top. It was served with bit of chocolate bark that accentuated the bitterness of the IPA top, otherwise it was well integrated and full flavoured. The Baba Yabba at GP Aro 91 was vodka, espresso stout and kola nut syrup and had a big fat mouthfeel and a fantastic coffee beans finish. Mr Go’s a modern Asian hawker cuisine restaurant on Taranaki Street served a gin and yuzu sorbet in a coupe glass along with a can of Duncan’s Yuzu lager to pour over. Called Yuz Beert Believe It, it had a refreshing citrus flavour with strong lemonade ice block vibes.

I continued with my arduous task of trying every monthly release of Fresh IPA from Garage Project and September’s was a good ‘un. Big hop aroma with a major citrus hit, a sharp and hoppy taste without an overdone fruitiness, and fresh fruit in a bitter finish.

Hospitality sector in the Wellington CBD appeared to bounce back after lockdown though there are some changes in opening hours and craft beer offerings starting to show. I went to Monkfish, a new craft beer bottle store on Vivian Street and tried their six NZ craft beers for $26. A good price and some fun beers including the Epic Mandarina and the apricot-flavoured Choice Bros Rebel Rebel low alcohol IPA.

I ended the month by attending a charity fundraiser preview of the new Bond movie at the Penthouse in Brooklyn. I had another couple of Garagistas because it had a car on the can, which seemed appropriate given all the stunt driving.