The Stoke brewery is run by New Zealand’s McCashin family, who had the Mac’s line of beers before selling them to Lion. Now they’re back in the beer biz – and I’ve never been sure if that’s a good thing.
See, I’ve been far from stoked with the range of Stoke beers I’ve tried so far. That would be their Gold, Amber and Dark.
First-up, I always think it’s a red flag when any beer has the word “Gold” in its name. But when it’s the whole name it’s really worrying.
That trio of beers are all made with “14,000 year old Paleo (TM) water” according to their website. Not at all sure how you trade mark water that you admit existed long before the concept of trade marks. Nor am I all that sure if there would be anyone who really cares whether their beer was made with “Paleo” water – or even knows what the hell that is anyway.
I understand the three are made with the same yeast, which unfortunately made the three beers taste very much the same. And that was bland and watery.
But I always like seeing a new beer on the shelves at Dan Murphy’s (in Wollongong that’s the place with the best craft beer range). So when I saw the Stoke Bomber Kiwi Pale Ale (aka KPA), I picked it up despite my earlier displeasure with the others in the Stoke range.
Uncle Dan’s also had the Bohemian Ale, which I shied away from out of the (admittedly weird) logic that a beer labelled “Bohemian” may well be pilsner-like. And I’m not a fan of pilsners. See, told you it was weird logic.
Anyway, the KPA sat in the beer fridge for a month or two before I got around to trying it. In that time, my brain had already decided what it would taste like. And that was fruity – because New Zealand is known for fruity wines. Also because of the word “Kiwi” in the beer’s name, which my brain had decided to associate with the fruit rather than the use of a bird as a symbolic representation of New Zealand.
So when I finally cracked the beer I was disappointed because that fruitness wasn’t there. Though I stress that was entirely my fault and not Stoke’s – it’s not like they can be expected to read the mind of some dumb beer blogger and structure their beers accordingly.
Once I got over my preconceptions and approached the beer for what it was, I started to like it. Even though I can’t see how it can be called a pale ale – seems more like an amber ale to me.
The colour in the glass is toffee and, surprisingly, the flavour description on the bottle is quite accurate (and how often does that happen?) It reads “First comes the aroma of biscuits and stone fruit, followed by flavours of caramel and marmalade blending with spice and hints of pepper. The zesty, lingering finish of this light bodied beer is a celebration of Wai-iti hops, only grown in New Zealand of course.”
And that’s pretty much what you get. And it’s definitely a beer with more body than Stoke’s earlier watery trio.
Would I drink it again?: Yeah, I reckon I probably would. Though not before I try that Bohemian Pale. The KPA has got me intrigued.