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Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black

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This pair of part-time Kiwi contract brewers greatly impressed me last time around with a peat smoked beer that had no business being as good as it turned out. Perhaps not a mainstream sort of beer, it nevertheless appealed to my penchant for Scotch and made this jaded beer nerd's heart grow three times larger. As such, I picked up the only other beer of theirs I've run across, their flagship beer, Pot Kettle Black. They call it a porter, but you would probably know it better as a Black IPA (or American Black Ale or whatever the heck you call that style) So let's find out why the eponymous Pot is such a goddamn racist hypocrite, shall we?

Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black

Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black - Pours a very dark brown color with colossal amounts of head. I swears, I didn't pour this thing like an asshole, it's just very well carbonated! Aroma has hints of roast, but is mostly herbal, spicy, floral hops. Taste has a surprising richness to it, lots of crystal malt character, again just a hint of that roast, and the herbal, floral hops are subtle, but prominent. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, but not overcarbonated. Full bodied, rich, but finishing drier than expected (and perhaps the carbonation has something to do with that). Overall, this doesn't really fit with a typical American Black Ale (or Black IPA, or whatever you call it), but it's not really a porter/stout either. Unique, complex, interesting. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 3/23/13.

Well, that marks two really weird, but really good entries from this obscure NZ brewery. I'm going to have to find more stuff from them, as I appear to have exhausted my local bottle shop's supply of different beers (which, at 2, wasn't exactly overflowing, but still). (I suppose I should note: despite the date and corresponding obscurity of the brewer, I do legitimately like this brewer/beer, which totally does exist and is well worth trying out. Ok, so reading that sentence back makes it seem like I'm trying to throw you off the scent of my delightful April Fools prank, but I swears, this is totally, completely serious. Well, not completely serious, as I did make that crack about the pot being a racist hypocrite because he called the kettle black, but you get my point. Right? So to recap, this is a legitimate post. For reals. Ok, dammit, is there a way to say that that doesn't come off as ironic or sarcastic? No? I should just stop? Well too bad, because now I'm worried that I'm overselling this beer/brewery. I mean, I really enjoyed it when I drank it, but the A- was probably a bit generous. Or maybe not. Maybe I should try another. Are you still reading this? I sure hope not. Then why am I still writing it? Don't try and change the subject. The real question is: why on earth are you still reading this? I think I've written more in this pointless parenthetical than I have in the whole rest of the post, so I guess I should actually stop now. It's been real. Thanks for reading, I guess. Have a good one!)

Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude

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In the rough and tumble world of beer blogging, it's easy to become jaded. That's why it's sometimes good to throw caution to the wind and take a flier on something obscure, like this fanciful New Zealand brewing duo who have a punnily named brewery and take some ridiculous chances with their beer. Case in point: Rex Attitude, a beer with an absurdly simple recipe. No fancy specialty grains here, just a single golden malt (ok, I'm being a bit facetious here, but we'll get to that in a moment). No trendy hop blends, just 31 IBUs driven by the mild character of Willamette hops. No estery, phenol driven Belgian yeast monsters, just a clean fermenting US yeast.

The thing that makes this beer so interesting is that that single golden malt also happens to be smoked. And not just any smoke: peat smoke. Scotch fans just raised an eyebrow. Most smoked beers burn traditional wood to get that smokey flavor - stuff like beechwood, hickory, ash, maple, and, uh, vampire stakes. But historically, you used what you had, and Scottish folks had lots of peat moss. So that's what they use to smoke their malt. These days, that malt is mostly used in service of Scotch Whisky (I'm unclear as to whether or not Scottish breweries used to use peat moss to dry their malt back in the day, but Scotch ales don't usually feature peat smoked malt).

So these wacky Kiwis took that heavily-peated Scottish distillers malt and made their beer with it. And thanks to the simplicity of the rest of the recipe (mild hops, clean yeast), that peat smoked malt is the true star here. This is an absolutely ludicrous idea and I expected disastrous results. But that's just this jaded blogger being a goober, because this thing is a real eye opener. I cannot believe they got this to work as well as it does, and it's nice to know that after years of obsessing about beer, I can still be blind-sided by something this surprising:

Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude

Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude - Pours a cloudy golden color with a couple fingers of billowy, fluffy head and tons of lacing. Smells of smokey, peated malts and not much else... but it works shockingly well. I could sniff this all night. It's like the nose from peated Scotch (think Islay), but it won't singe your nose hairs. The taste has a nice sweetness to it, well balanced against the smoke, which is ever-present, but not at all overbearing. Indeed, it's extremely well balanced and quite tasty. And we haven't even gotten to the best part, which is the mouthfeel. Highly carbonated and relatively dry, reminiscent of the feel you get from a well attenuated Belgian yeast, but without the fruity or spicy notes. Medium bodied, but this thing drinks like a champ. It's like drinking an Islay Scotch, but without any of that burning booze. Probably not for anyone, but I'm a bit of a peat freak, so this beer pushed the right buttons for me. Overall, this beer has no business drinking this well, one of the most unique and interesting experiments I've had in a while. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 1/19/13.

There's a doubled up version of this very beer called XeRRex that is supposedly just as audacious and successful, despite being a 10% monster. I must find that beer. In the meantime, I'll have to hit up my local bottle shop for their Pot Kettle Black (which they call a hoppy porter, otherwise known as Black IPA). Yeastie Boys came to my attention by way of Stephen Beaumont, and I'm glad I caught that post. Yeasty Boys is a contract brewing operation, but Stephen notes: "in New Zealand, where a small population base is stretched across a long and isolated land mass, or rather, masses, that is a status without the perception issues that tend to dog it still in North America and parts of Europe. Indeed, contract craft brewing seems at times almost the Kiwi norm rather than the exception." So this is the only one of their beers I've had, but if it's any indication, these guys are worth seeking out. And thus ends Smoked Beer week. I hope you had fun, I know I did. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a fresh box of West Coast beer to scarf down this weekend. Stay tuned.

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

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