1) There doesn’t seem to be a lot of lover in good beer circles for New Zealand brewer Monteith’s. They launch a barrel-aged porter and some suggest it was aged in aluminium barrels. They launch a hoppy IPA and send out samples with a bag of hops and reviewers say “hey, Monteith’s, you’re supposed to put the hops IN the beer”. You know, because there really isn’t much hop character in it.
2) I’ve always had a soft spot for Monteith’s and those tiny 330ml bottles ever since a visit to New Zealand ages ago. My wife and I found a lovely quiet pub around the corner from the hostel we were staying at. They had Monteith’s, which we drank quite happily (this was at a time when getting interesting beer at an ordinary pub was a bloody hard thing to do). We were so into the brand that, when they first were available here we got very excited.
3) But in the last five or six years, Monteith’s had disappointed me. It was in part because my palate had developed and so what once tasted “wow!” now tasted more like “meh”. But it wasn’t just my fault; I maintain Monteith’s dropped the ball too with a load of ordinary efforts. And yet I still live in hope – if I see one of their beers and it looks interesting I’ll cross my fingers and pick it up.
4) I did that with two beers this week. The Barber lager was okay, certainly a bit more interesting than earlier efforts. But the other beer I chose was quite the eye-opener. Well, an eye-opener when you’re talking about a mainstream brewery.
5) That would be an XPA and I found a lot to like about it from the revamped bottle design, to the label to the beer itself. Is it on par with full-on craft efforts? Nope, and I’m not sure that’s a fair comparison. In and of itself, it’s an enjoyable beer. It comes out of the glass showing a pleasing golden colour and the aroma flings out a little bit of mango and orange. The mango comes through on the tongue as well. It’s a beer that nicely straddles the gap between mainstream and craft – and in a way that is likely to please both sides of that divide.
Free or paid for?: I only bought a single bottle but I quickly wished I’d bought more. And if that’s not a good enough recommendation I don’t know what is.
Categories: Beer of the Week