Beer festival

Yeastie Boys and bad reviews


This beer, called Gunnamatta, from New Zealand’s Yeastie Boys is the subject of perhaps the worst beer review I’ve read. I don’t mean “worst” as in the harshest, though it is that. I mean worst, in terms of the way the review itself it written.

In a 94-word review, the journo doesn’t mention once that this beer is made with Earl Grey blue flower tea. Given that’s the ingredient that makes this beer distinct, not telling your readers that is a huge oversight.

Nor does the review mention that this beer won the People’s Choice award at the Great Australian Beer Spectapular in Melbourne in 2012. It doesn’t give the reader any real information about what to expect from the beer.

What is does do is apparently serve as a vehicle for the author to be nasty. “It tastes like a cross between a sour mouthwash and three-week old Earl Grey tea brewed with stagnant water”, is just one example of the critical heights of the review. Describing the beer as “cold soap suds” is another.

Having read a few other reviews from this guy, they’re all in the same narky vein. The aim seems to be vicious rather than fair. Sure, you can dislike a beer (or a TV show, movie, book or whatever) but you really should be giving legitimate reasons for that. Whatever it is, someone has put in a bit of effort to make it – so at least treat them with a bit of dignity. And to review a beer without offering any genuine critique about how the frigging thing tastes, or even what’s in it is beyond ridiculous.

The first time I had this beer was a few weeks ago during my brief trip to Melbourne for Good Beer Week and GABS. I’d read this review on Twitter a few days earlier and, when I turned up at the Alehouse Project where they were tapping New Zealand beers, I was stoked to see it on the taplist. By a quirk of fate the two Boys of Yeast were there so I got to meet them too, give them my business card and say “hey, I write a beer column too. But it’s better than that other guy’s”.
I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it then, but I was intrigued enough to buy a bottle to try when I got home.

I drank that a few days ago and I have to say, it’s the most distinctive-tasting beer I’ve had. It does remind me a bit of Baron’s Lemon Myrtle beer, especially in the mouthfeel and on the tongue. That beer left me with a sensation in my mouth that I struggled to put into words, and so does Gunnamatta. The best I can come up with is “powdery” and “flowery”.

On the nose Gunnamatta gives some very definite tea aromas. Is it Earl Grey? Well, I’m not enough of a tea geek to know.  On the tongue there’s a hint of tea and some flowery notes, with a bit of astringency, which may come from the tea or from the fact that this is an IPA. At the end of the day, it’s a strangely intriguing beer. I can remember thinking after I finished the bottle that I didn’t think I’d want to drink another one. But now, just a few days later, I want to drink it again.

I guess there’s just something there that I really like. One thing I know for sure is that I couldn’t find anything to be narky about.

5 replies »

  1. I reckon this one gets better with a bit of age. I’ve got a bottle that I’m going to try in 6 months – the Earl Grey when fresh is a little overwhelming for me but older ones I’ve tried are much smoother.

  2. I agree with your description of the beer. ‘Gateway beers’ are a dime a dozen but then there’s ‘Mindblowing beers’, like Gunnamatta, that are completely unique, stop you in your tracks and change your very perception of beer. I live for those kind of beer experiences. The reviewer clearly didn’t get ‘it’, which is fine, but he is clearly using provocative writing seeking attention.

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