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KaiOctober 18, 2018

Beer and a shot (of gin): the dive bar favourite comes to NZ

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Alice welcomes the zombie hopocalypse with open arms (and gin), while Henry sups upon a spicy syrah from a Hawke’s Bay OG.


Epic Hop Zombie, 8.5%, 500ml, plus Hidden World Oriental Spice Gin, 50ml, 44%, $11.99 from Fine Wine Delivery Co

A boilermaker, according to the internet, is a trained craftsperson who produces steel fabrications from plates and tubes. It’s also a glass of beer served with a shot of whiskey.

Some people say you should down the shot and follow it with a beer chaser, while others favour sipping them side by side, and some reckon you should drop the shot into the beer before consuming.

No one’s quite sure how the name came about, but one theory is that this booze combo was a favourite tipple of the boilermakers who worked on steam locomotives in the 1800s. After a hard day’s 19th-century slog, who could blame them for needing something a little more robust than a shandy.

While steam locomotives were gradually superseded by fancy diesel and electric numbers, the boilermaker drink lived on, becoming a dive-bar favourite in the US.

Of course, similar beer-spirit combos developed over the centuries in other cultures, such as the excellently named kopstootje or “little head-butt” from the Netherlands, featuring the Dutch gin-like spirit genever.

Now here in New Zealand, we have our very own boilermaker to enjoy. Epic Brewing Company makes some of the best hoppy numbers in Aotearoa, but owner Luke Nicholas isn’t only about the IPAs. A few years ago he teamed up with Anthony Sexton of Vaione Gin to launch a new craft gin brand, Hidden World.

So it was only natural that a gin-beer boilermaker came about. In all honesty, I was a little dubious about pairing Epic’s double IPA Hop Zombie with a shot of Hidden World Oriental Spice gin, and not only for my liver’s sake. Surely that’s too many big flavours?

But by jove, it works. Sipped side by side, the intensely tropical-fruit-hoppy flavours of the Hop Zombie marry delightfully with the redolent-with-spices gin. Cloves! Cardamom! Cinnamon! Coriander! Sichuan pepper! To me, it kind of tastes like a Kiwi Christmas. Jesus — or Santa, or someone — would approve.

And even if you don’t fancy going full boilermaker, $11.99 for a damn good beer and some gin is a helluva deal.

Verdict: Name a more iconic duo

Alice Neville


13%, $19.99 from Fine Wine Delivery Co

This week, a glossary:

Gimblett Gravels:  A wine-growing sub-region of Hawkes Bay. First, the Ngaruroro River ran through it. Then, after a flood, it was a barren, stony, infertile wasteland, used for army training, drag racing and gravel mining. The first grapes were planted there in the late-70s and by the 90s, the success of early vintages of Bordeaux varieties led to multiple wineries buying up land. In 2001, a bunch of the wineries and growers got together and formed the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association, defining the region’s boundaries (the old riverbed)  and copyrighting the name. So, like Bordeaux or Champagne or Burgundy, when you buy a Gimblett Gravels wine, you know it was grown somewhere in that 800ha piece of Hawke’s Bay.

Syrah: It’s the same grape as shiraz, except shiraz is (usually) Australian (where they used to call it Hermitage) or South African and syrah is (usually) European. Some people think that a shiraz will be big and fruity while a syrah will be refined and elegant. That’s not necessarily untrue, but is only due to geographic and stylistic variation, not due to grape variety.

Vidal: One of the first wineries in Hawke’s Bay, didn’t ya know? (I did not.) Vidal was started by Joseph Vidal in 1905. Take a look at the brand’s 1906 launch party:


Vidal Reserve Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2016: This is one of those expensive wine in an affordable bottle kinda wines. Peppery, leathery and spicy. Not a huge wine, but plummy (and berry-y) enough to go down pretty easy on its own, while tannic and acidic enough to hold its own and cut through some pretty rich food if you wanted it to. I’ve always toyed with the idea of starting a cellar of $20ish wines and seeing how they age. This would be a perfect candidate.

Verdict: Lamb dressed as less-expensive lamb

Henry Oliver

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