Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hockey, Emerson's, and Brown Ale

Today, I went to Eureka Café and Bar to watch the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately they did not have any Molson or Labatt to quaff while watching the game, so I had to get creative. I took the opportunity to begin my education on Emerson’s range of beers. Emerson’s, for those of you reading from outside of New Zealand, seems to be the largest, most successful, craft brewery in the country. Their beer also seems to be widely regarded as some of the best that the country has to offer. In particular, their pilsner is surrounded by a noticeable amount of buzz. So, that is where I began:

Emerson’s Organic Pilsner 4.4%

On-tap at Eureka Café and Bar. Served in a nonic pint glass.

A: Pours a clear, golden straw with active carbonation bubbling from the bottom of the glass. A half-inch white head remains even after the beer settles. Leaves substantial lacing down the glass.

S: Sweet citrus pretty much dominates the nose on this beer, quite nice and quite unexpected. As the beer warms the grain comes through a bit, but not much.

T: Sweet citrus and malt upfront, balanced by a firm bitterness at the back and biscuit-like/dry grain around the edges.

M: light to medium body with crisp carbonation and a clean/dry finish.

D: Super drinkable. Clean, refreshing, and light enough to put back easily.

I decided to follow up the pilsner with a more elusive offering, their current Brewer’s Reserve (a rotating style, produced for on-tap consumption), Very Brown Ale. Before I begin my review, I would like to take a moment to muse on the brown ale style. The brown ale, in my experience, is a brown colored ale, with a medium body, subdued (almost no) hop presence, and a firm caramel sweetness. I find the style to be quite drinkable, but rather unremarkable and unbalanced. Emerson’s version of the brown ale, however, is a much more interesting take on the style:

Emerson’s Very Brown Ale 5.5%

On-tap at Eureka Café and Bar. Served in a nonic pint glass.

A: Pours a deep brown with hues of red peaking through the glass. Thin off-white head remains after the beer settles. Almost coats the glass, leaving a sponge-like lacing.

S: Smell is subdued, with gentle roasted sweetness the only aroma really coming through.

T: Taste is very nice. Much more balanced then other brown ales I have had (which are always a bit too sweet for my liking). Caramelized sweetness is balanced by a significant coffee or dark chocolate-like roasted bitterness. Very enjoyable flavor profile.

M: Mouth-feel is quite light for the flavor. In my opinion, this is what keeps it from being a porter. Medium body with light carbonation and a lingering bitterness.

D: More interesting than the usual brown ale, which makes it enjoyable to drink.


  1. Damn, I love Eureka. I've only been to Dunedin a couple of times, but it's just such a nice place to drink a pint of Emersons.

    Thanks for taking me back there. :)

  2. I think its an american brown ale style, which might explain the extra flavour. I'm totally visiting Eureka when I'm there next month.

  3. you're right. the little description they provide about the beer references the american brown ale.