Alice is in a glass case of emotion (in a good way) about Behemoth’s latest IPA, and Henry is chuffed with a cheap and very cheerful pinot gris.
BEHEMOTH BREWING COMPANY KIND OF A BIG DEAL SAN DIEGO IPA
6.9%, 330ml, $5.99 from Fine Wine Delivery Co
San Diego: famous for its zoo, Comic-Con, some sad orcas, Ron Burgundy and hoppy beers.
The latter two have finally been united thanks to Auckland’s Behemoth Brewing Company, which has dedicated its newest release, Kind of a Big Deal, to the hero of Anchorman.
Ron Burgundy, as anyone familiar with the 2004 Will Ferrell lol-fest knows, was more fond of scotch (scotchy scotch scotch) than IPAs, but San Diego was his town, and San Diego does bloody good beer. More specifically, the style known as West Coast IPA that has pretty much taken over the world. Breweries like Stone, Ballast Point and Green Flash pioneered this kind of beer — an intensely hoppy, bitter, boozy palate-smasher that brewers and drinkers all over the globe, and especially here in Aotearoa, have embraced.
So if any city is worthy of a tribute beer, it’s San Diego, and who better than SD’s finest son to grace the label?
Not that he does, exactly. It’s Churly, the underbite-possessing monster who appears on all Behemoth’s beers in various guises, clad in rather Ron Burgundy-esque attire, complete with moustache. Nor does the can actually mention Ron Burgundy or Anchorman anywhere — sensible, as the last thing this little Kiwi brewery needs after the Dump the Trump saga is to be sued by a big American movie company.
But in addition to the obvious name reference, the blurb on the label manages to squeeze in an impressive number of Anchorman references, leaving there no doubt as to this beer’s inspiration.
So how’s it taste? By the beard of Zeus, Behemoth does a damn good IPA, and Kind of a Big Deal is no exception. Brewed with an iconic trio of American hops, namely Simcoe, Amarillo and Citra, its tropical fruit, citrus and stonefruit notes sing out against a balanced bitterness. So smooth it could make a wolverine purr.
Verdict: Sky rockets in flight.
MOUNT BROWN NORTH CANTERBURY PINOT GRIS 2017
13.5%, $12.99 from Fine Wine Delivery Co
Pinot gris is, if you haven’t heard, huge right now. The third most popular white wine after, you guessed it, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. And it’s no secret why. It’s fruit-forward and refreshing without the acidity and cat-pissness that puts some people off sauvignon blanc or the oaky bigness that puts people off chardonnay. It lacks the bone-rattling dryness of a riesling or the mouth-coating sweetness of a, um, riesling. It’s not wildly fruity like gewürztraminer often is. It’s got more body than your average rosé and because it’s not pink, people probably take it more seriously. Flavour-wise, it’s like the middle of a white wine Venn diagram. And, probably above all, it’s become a lot easier (and cheaper) to find good examples of it recently.
This Mount Brown pinot gris from Waipara is a perfect example of the value to be found in this variety. No industry trickery this time, no cancelled orders of export labels, just a $13 bottle of wine that tastes like it could cost a lot more. It’s off-dry with all those classic pinot gris notes: peach, plum, pear. Flowers, a little potpourri maybe. It’s got depth, texture, refinement and enough acidity to hold up the fruit – everything you’d want out of a wine at twice the price.
Wanting to put my (OK, everybody’s) theory of the continued emergence of pinot gris to the test, I did a Google Trends search of “pinot gris” in New Zealand and (wouldn’t ya know it?) use of the term has not only been on a steady rise over the last 20-plus years, since the mid-00s, interest peaks every year in December. So, even before everyone was going on and on about how popular pinot gris is now, its always been a summer fave.
Verdict: Ain’t nothing wrong with being in the middle.
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