$10 - Auckland
Bach Brewing is the brain child of Craig Cooper, who has significant experience in both the craft and the industrial brewing sectors. He was a partner in Limburg Brewery in Hastings which was founded by Chris O'Leary who is now production manager at Emerson's Brewery. The relationship to Limburg is important for several reasons. Firstly, and more personally, Limburg Beers were the first beers I ever tasted that I enjoyed. This was when I was working at Black Barn Bistro on my first break from university, summer of 2003 / 2004. Prior to that I had only ever tried commercial beer and while I drank it if it was around, I never really enjoyed it. This beer was different. It wasn't until almost three years later, toward the end of 2006 when I discovered Epic Pale Ale and realized that beer was as exciting and dynamic as wine.
The second important thing about the Limburg connection is that the first two of the Bach Brewing beers take their name from the two most popular Limburg beers: Czechmate which is a stunning, refreshing, clean, focused pilsner (and I believe is being made according to the same recipe as it was under the Limburg label) and won Champion International Style Lager at the Brewers Guild of NZ Awards in 2006 and 2007. There is also Hopsmacker which has been hopped up to satisfy the modern craft beer consumer but still retains its broad, toasty, biscuity malt base.
Kingtide, then, could be said to be the first truly original Bach Brewing beer. It was developed with Kelly Ryan (ex Thornbridge, Epic and Good George) who had retired from brewing to care for his father who has recently passed. Kelly is an excellent brewer and is beginning to establish his own brewery in Taranaki - Brew Mountain. It is amazingly exciting to see Kelly re-entering the industry as he is a fantastic guy and extremely talented brewer - check out his blog BeeRevolution.
Kingtide is described as a 'Pacific IPA' as it "is brewed with a caravan full of five character hops from the NZ and US coasts of the Pacific Ocean". That is to say it combines the flavour profile of the already well established APA with the emerging New Zealand Pale Ale style. Of the development of Kingtide Craig Cooper says that he and Kelly brainstormed two recipes for the pilot batch; one with more of a focus on NZ hops, the other with the focus on US hops. Kelly then brewed trial batches of the beer and they decided on the US hop dominant beer as Craig wanted something "distinctively different than Hopsmacker".
I see the beer as combining elements of Kiwi and US brewing styles both in terms of the flavours and aromas of the hops used but also style in general. One of the things I love about many bigger Kiwi brewed pale ales is their ability to hide their weight well. Liberty Citra is probably the best example of this but examples can also be found in the beers of Epic, Hallertau and 8 Wired. This is opposed to the US brewed beers (which, admittedly, I have only ever tasted in New Zealand) that seem to favour a richness and sweetness of malt body that boarders on cloy. Being a bit of a beer snob I now almost exclusively buy beer imported by Beer Without Boarders who ship and store their beer cold so in theory I am drinking them in the best possible condition. This beer is broad and relatively sweet but still has a clean, focused finish so does not stray into tasting cloy. This beer is massively hoppy but rather than the dominance of US hops that Craig Cooper refers to, I see a seamless weave between the piney, orange, lemon and grapefruit aromas of the US hops and the more focused bitterness, passionfruit flavours and floral aromatics of the Kiwi hops.
In two words: Full + Focused