A couple of years ago I visited Panhead brewery, the jewel in the crown of Upper Hutt’s Brewtown.  As with all such visits, when it came to the taproom, I skipped straight past the core range and got stuck into tasting the experimental one-off brews that I wouldn’t find anywhere else.  With their Batch range, Panhead are bringing this experience out of the brewery and to the entire nation, by selecting favourite former taproom-only exclusives for a canning run. Panhead Batch 206, a hoppy red ale (6.1%), is described as a toast to malt, the backbone of all beer, and right from the deep coppery pour you can tell that’s what this one is about.  Toffee and toasted grains adorn the aroma, alongside dried apricot, prune and sweet spice.  The palate starts off rich and full, but grows more delicate and complex as the malt character unfurls and the drying bitterness tightens around the finish.  Exceptional winter drinking.

Panhead Batch 206