Behemoth Juicing Room Blueberry Sour  6.9%abv

The latest oddball release to come rolling out of the Behemoth brewery.  This blueberry infused wheat stands out from the sour crowd in a couple of ways.  First, in the strength department at a wonkering 6.9% (most sours are under five), and secondly in the choice of fruit.  Blueberries are notoriously difficult to get any flavour out of, but they come through quite distinctly here.  Most strongly on the nose, with the unmistakably deep but subtle aroma of blueberries wafting over the tangy wheat.  The palate is tart and juicy but the extra strength and a little added lactose round things out nicely.  

Urbanaut Cherrywood Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter 7.8%abv

Urbanaut’s barrel-aged beer debut (though it should be noted that it’s actually a blend of the barrel aged stock and their regular porter).  A dynamic nose, with unground coffee beans, dark chocolate, smoky oak char and just a thread of barrel funk.  The palate is on the drier side with roasted malt, oolong tea and oak tannin along with that bit of tartness from the cask.  A drier, more lifted example of a barrel porter compared to the often super-desserty norm.  Comes in Urbanaut’s flagship 250ml can. 

Craftwork Flemish Floozie Belgian Fruit Ale 7.5%abv

An oldie but a goody from Craftwork in Oamaru.  Inspired by the now rarely seen Verboden Vrucht (Forbidden Fruit) from Belgian producer Hoegaarden.  It is similarly flavoured with figs and sultanas and lightly spiced.  The nose is soft, with coriander coming in first, then dried apricots over more subtle aromas of fig.  The palate follows on seamlessly from the nose, with more spice and fruity ester that does a wicked job of hiding the hefty alcohol.  Not a bad drop at all when young but should have huge and comparatively rapid ageing potential for anyone willing to put a few away.

Morningcider Apple IPA Cider: 6%abv

As the name suggests, this cider has undergone dry hopping with NZ hops.  Examples of these hopped ciders come along every year or so and I find the quality to be radically hit or miss.  But this one starts out right with its cool, clean nose packed with red apple skins and a dank grassy hop freshness.  The palate is remarkably tart, and that may be the key factor that makes this example a success.  Rather than a sweet cider with the hop character just swimming around lost, it presents more like a good hoppy sour, with its tangy and hoppy aspects working together. 

Eddyline High Tide Double IPA: 8.8%abv

Brewed with Simcoe, Mosaic and Citra, it’s the former two hops that do most of the work on the nose.  Sharp grapefruit and lime citrus prickle the nose, while some warmer tropical fruits and rich maltiness flow underneath.  Amongst those good aromas there’s a troubling note however, and unfortunately the palate confirms it.  A sweet honey note throws a smothering candied blanket over what should be lush and sharp American hop flavours.  Not a fatal flaw by any means, but certainly one that prevents a big IPA like this from presenting at its best.

Epic Extra Stout Ale 4.8%abv

As much as Epic might be associated with hoppy pales and IPAs, they can brew some stellar stouts too, as those who keep up with them will attest.  This ExtraStout Ale isn’t quite a straight up Guinness take, but it does have a similarly mild ABV and dark malts driving the flavour.  Dry on the nose with dark chocolate, deeply roasted malt and just a dash of hop freshness on the end. The palate is lightweight and bitter with just enough malt heft to carry it through.  Would really shine in a nitro can.

Mac’s Brew-JolaisFresh Hop IPA 6.0%abv

After around a decade in the wilderness, Mac’s fresh hop release is back on the shelves, and with it the closest thing to a mass-produced fresh hop beer on the market.  The fresh hop character is pleasingly distinct on the deeply herbaceous nose.  Leafy and grassy, with gentle citrus blossom.  The palate is juicy and alive with fresh citrus and sugarsnap pea, with a light, fluid malt base and very mild bitterness.  An uncomplicated but fairly faultless example of a fresh hop IPA that’s both accessible and affordable. 

8-Wired iStout  Imperial Stout 10%abv

A very old beer from 8-Wired now, but one that has evolved over the years (most recently finding its way into a can over a bottle).  Big stouts like this are typically sweet, dessert-like and comforting, but iStout is a more sit-down serious affair.  Dark chocolate, cold brew coffee and sumptuous roasted malt abounds on the nose, while the palate channels powerfully flavourful chocolate and coffee bean energy.  The flavours bounce between burned malt and hop bitterness and rich sweetness as they lead into a profoundly long finish that brings up its own subtle notes of burned driftwood and tobacco.