As hinted, I did make my way to Galbraith’s Alehouse last night. Checked out the menu, food seemed a bit pricey, so I got a kabob instead. After my kabob I went back to taste two of their beers.
Beer 1: Grafton Porter
Cask conditioned and served in a nonic pint glass at 55 degrees. The beer poured a rich dark brown with strong hints of red, and a creamy looking thin ring of tan colored foam. The beer smelled of rich chocolate, roasted malt, and closed with some sweet and caramelized notes. The taste was chocolate first, followed by sweet malt, and a very gentle roasted bitterness, but overall a very subdued flavor profile (not a bad thing). The mouth-feel was amazing. I later found out that there is oatmeal in the grist, which partially explains the extremely smooth and creamy feel. Overall I would say this beer was an excellent example of the English porter and showed a restraint and balance that is hard to find in today’s world of big over the top brews.
Beer 2: Bitter and Twisted E.S.B.
Cask conditioned and served in a nonic pint glass at 55 degrees. Poured a reddish brown with a persistent, creamy, off-white one inch head. Smelled equally as amazing as the porter, which can be attributed in part to the serving temperature, but also to the fine craftsmanship. The aroma was a lot of toasted malt upfront, very similar to Skull Splitter from the Orkney Islands. The taste was toasted and sweet malt, with a pronounced but subtle bitterness at the end which provided a nice balance to the malt. The feel was creamy with a clean finish. The flavors in the E.S.B. were a bit bigger, but still a wonderful example of how balanced restraint can sometimes be a better thing than in-your-face flavor.
Galbraith’s is doing things old school; cask conditioned ales, served warm and flat. To some people, warm flat beer would seem an unappealing proposition. I rather enjoy my beer this way, and would encourage anyone traveling in Auckland to give Galbriath’s a try. The establishment itself was comfortable, the bar tenders were nice, and I met Keith Galbraith, who was more than happy to answer some questions on the malt bills of his beers.