A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of being in our craft beer capital for Webstock, a conference on innovation, web and design. As luck would have it Wednesday night was also the release of Garage projects Kölsch. Hallertau's version ushered me gently into beer drinking adulthood, and I still hold a candle for the style. So I was keen to see Garage Project’s take on one of my favourite drops. This one-off keg has been lagering for three months and uses Motueka and Galaxy hops.
I've always said that the best bars in Wellington are down back alleys with doors hidden behind rubbish bins. Little Beer Quarter (LBQ) is no exception as you can see above.
The release went on tap around 5:30 and when I turned up around 7:00 the whole keg was gone. Apparently it was only 19L, which explains it. Fortunately some other Garage Project beers were on offer. I was keen to try their Pernicious Weed, but that wasn't on tap yet.
I went with my third pick, and asked for a glass of their Amber Ale. Sigh. I handed over my $9 and the bar tender handed me back something which was closer to a shot glass than a pint.
My dreams of Kölsch beer shattered, my wallet shamelessly gouged, I took a seat in the corner with only my fraying mood as company. I looked around. The bar was so dimly lit I might have suspected a power cut, apart from the overbearing but muffled music bouncing around the concrete walls. Fortunately I didn't have any company to shout over the table at. So I got my grumpy face on and checked out the beer.
Now I've had plenty of good Amber Ale in my time, but when you’re searching for a rare beast like a Kölsch or a feisty IPA, an Amber Ale might not deliver the same sort of tongue entertainment.
However at first taste this Amber Ale rocked my grumpy little world. Smooth and fresh tasting, it started with a sharp little slap of lemony hops. Then morphed into a river of rich flowing malty smoothness. This is some seriously good beer!
My mood instantly lifted. The grumpy look dropped clean off my face, the dim concrete bunker suddenly seemed atmospheric and rustic. Very cool. Just my sort of place. The $9 I had paid for my shot glass of beer suddenly seemed like good value. My night was back on track.
I cruised back to the bar. The selection of beers in LBQ is awesome. All of the old favourites are there in the fridge and there were at least eight taps flowing. I grabbed a glass of Tuatara Kölsch and got on with having a great night.
I'm super keen to try some more Garage project, their Amber Ale was brilliant. Next time I get the opportunity, I'll be on time and first in line.