Boundry Road Brewery - $2 Craft Beer?

14 Dec 2011 by Joel Macfarlane
This is a first for me. I'm actually reviewing and enjoying a NZ craft beer from a large liquor company. I can't even think of a time when I reviewed something from a brewery with more than 10 staff. It makes me wonder, would I be happy drinking the perfect IPA with a DB label on the side. I guess I would have to be. Either that or admit I'm a beer snob. A beer snob in my view is someone who drinks for snob value rather than taste.

So today I'm reviewing a brew from Boundary Road Brewery. Have they created the perfect IPA? Definitely not, but for the price I would be happy to hand this out at a BBQ. Even more so, I would be delighted to see this on the menu at corporate events. This time of year I drink way to much Steinlager Pure.

So how is Boundary Road Brewery big liquor? I mean most people haven't even hear of it. The brewery was founded in 1987 by Michael Erceg, the same man who founded independent liquor while flooding our market with Alcopops.

He wasn't satisfied with leaving the nation's youth comatose in a gutter, he had a more noble quest. He sought to break the duopoly held by the two giants of NZ brewing. His cunning plan was to brew foreign beers under licence. The sort of international beers with local name recognition but no local distribution. Basically the sort of beer your dad buys when it's on super special in the vege section of Pack and Save.

Scrolling forward a few years, Michael died in a helicopter accident and Independent Liquor, the brewery's parent company, was bought in 2011 by Asahi. Boundary Road Brewery now produces notable foreign beers such as Kingfisher, Tuborg and Hagen. The sort of beers that trade off their international reputation without a need for local marketing. Like many of the Independent Liquor products they are also cheap.

After many years of brewing tasteless international lagers the brewery came up with a pet project, one which would chase the potentially lucrative craft beer market. You might have seen the full page advertisement in the Herald, where the brewery invited applications for 999 beer tasters. I didn't get picked, but reading what others said they weren't particularly good. However they did offer to send out a voucher to those not picked.

I thought no more about it, until recently they sent out a letter with a five dollar note attached. Apparently getting vouchers printed was difficult so they sent out a crispy fiver instead. I can only image how many they sent out. That's the sort of readys not available to most craft breweries. I guess it pays to be part of an international liquor corporation. That said, I was totally stoked to receive free and unexpected cash.

I did think about spending my fiver on a bottle of Moa but when I saw the entire Boundary Road range at my local I decided to grab a six. It was only $15 and I was sure it could be palmed off to mates if it turned out to be crap.

I selected their Flying Fortress Ale, which like everything else these days is a Kiwi Pale Ale. The description reads...

A big taste, a graceful aroma and two massive engines on each wing. The malts are Pale Ale combined with chocolate and caramel variants while the hops are NZ Motueka and Pacific Jade.

That's a big call. A bit like saying how the new Mazda 3 brings European luxury and sports car handling to you for $32k. But at some level we shouldn't compare this against more expensive beers. This is never going to be a $12 8Wired or a $18 Californian. To be sure, this is a $2.5 beer and should be judged like one.

It pours like a real one, a lovely amber colour with a small foamy white head. Even a nice little citrus aroma.

The first taste is good. This isn't a Tuatara APA but it isn't Stoke either. There's enough hops to get a good citrus bitterness, balanced with just enough malt. Standing on its own, the result is a decent beer, but compared against other $2 beers it's excellent.

If you want a an affordable craft beer to palm off on the rellies this Xmas I recommend laying in a coupe of dozen. For personal consumption however I'm going to throw in an extra 50 cents per bottle and get some Tuatara.
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