Blackman’s Brewery Zinger Slinger New Zealand Lager

Total Score: 8.2/10 Nut1Passionfruit1WhiteWine1Stein1

The third beer in Blackman’s “Lager Collective” series is exciting for me: Zinger Slinger New Zealand Lager – brewed with a decent roster of NZ hops including: Southern Cross, Riwaka, and one of my old favourites; Motueka hops. Should be an interesting mix with this almost India Pale Lager collection of hops with a solid ABV of 5.8% ABV. Their last Lager Collective brew that I tried (Juicy Banger) was an IPL, and although I wasn’t a fan of that due to the crispness being ill-suited to a sharply bitter hop back note, I’m reckoning that this NZ-style Lager will be a bit more even-handed with the balance. The fact that they haven’t called it an IPL is a good start indeed. Let’s crack this baby!

Poured from a 330ml can into a stein.

A: Niiiice pale golden cloudy body with a crazy white sea foam head on top that leaves some weird lace patterns on the side of the glass, nice and dirty – the way I like my martinis and beers in general. 8/10.

S: Herbaceous passionfruit character mingles with Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand style) grape and an earthy note, with background kumquat lingering on (Motueka you tasty hop you). This is a great and funky smelling NZ Lager – I wish most breweries made beers with character like this Blackman’s brew, it’s a curiosity piquing drop right here. 9/10.

T: Flavour takes it sideways with an odd-but-nonetheless-likable dry nutty character. Was not expecting that. Hints of the aforementioned: herbaceous passionfruit, Sauvignon Blanc grape, earthy tones, and kumquat round out this “unique as brah” NZ Lager. Finish is dry as a Bedouin’s underpants, with a loooong crisp character and mild bitterness. Borderline too flavoursome, if that’s actually a thing that happens… ever. 8/10.

M: Medium(ish) bodied with a light but frizzante carbonation, cloys a touch due to the amount of body it has, but it’s no biggie. 8/10.

D: This is a much better brew than Juicy Banger IPL – balance is spot on, flavours are plentiful and tasty, and more importantly it manages to find an interesting niche as a Lager – which isn’t an easy thing to do given Lagers as a whole can be quite boring and watery (macro Lagers do still make up a huge chunk of the beers sold world-wide). Is this a brew I would revisit again? Yes, yes it certainly is. This is the Matthew Young’s “Hey” of beers. 8/10.

Food match: Earthy nutty flavours always go well with truffle mushroom pizza.


Kona Brewing Longboard Island Lager

Total Score: 6.95/10 Malt1Honeycomb1Flowers1Stein1

Last in the Kona beers kindly gifted to me by a rep for the purpose of reviewing is: Kona Brewing Longboard Island Lager. Look, I left the Lager till last because let’s face it – I’m not the biggest fan of Lagers in general… unless they have the word “Bock” in them, and they’re really more like Ales anyway. That said – I do know a good Lager when I taste one, and I can appreciate Lagers from long dry Munich Helles to sharply crisp Japanese Lagers, so I’m going to give Kona as fair a chance as I do any brewer and the things I may praise/slam it for are no different to the things I praise/slam in any brew (and my slamming tends to fall into the category of: flavourless or muted). Anyway, cheers to that Kiwi Kona rep – she’s a lovely lass.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a stein.

A: Crazy carbonation and yeast particles floating around suggesting this may have undergone a few fermentations in the bottle. Apart from that it presents with a pleasing pale straw/golden body and a fluffy white 1 centimetre head that slowly decays to a thin blanket. 6/10.

S: Crisp malts mingle with a honeyed scent and light floral hops, rather dry aroma overall and a touch muted… though as far as American Pale Lagers go this isn’t out of the realm of the ordinary. 6/10.

T: Flavour is light right from the beginning, and it never really leaps out at you, however this isn’t the sort of beer you would expect to leap out at you – it’s a “cold-brew-by-the-beach” type of Lager and when I review these I tend to ask “does it have any offensive or off flavours?”. In the case of this Kona the answer is: No. Profile is: Malty, honey and floral. Finish: Long and dry. Aftertaste: Malty. 7/10.

M: Decent body for a 4.6% ABV brew: Almost medium, with a reasonably creamy carbonation, works well with this style – though it can be a touch cloying for those who like crisper bodies. 7/10.

D: Didn’t mind this one at all from Kona Brewing. They’re no Stone Brewing (so get that notion out of your head), they don’t do big beers, but they do easy brews that go down without being close to mind-blowing, and there’s a niche for that (a pretty damn big niche actually!). I like the fact that they’ve positioned themselves in the Hawaii (i.e. tropical island) beer market as there isn’t a huge deal of brews out there that are both a) great on a hot day, and b) not absolutely bland, so kudos Kona for making something A-OK, mahalo! 8/10.

Food match: I’ve said luau before, so… fish, chips and salad peeps.


Sample Lager

Total Score: 6.25/10 Peach1Barley1CutGrass1Stein1

Another free sample of a Sample Brew, this one a Sample Lager, sample, sample, sample… now that is a lot of samples in one sentence. So I’m not really looking forward to this as their Sample ¾ IPA was watery, ergo: Shit. However it is a free sample, and I do review beers, so what the hell, let’s do this! The label says it has Enigma hops – which apparently give this beer “flavours and aromas from raspberries to Pinot Gris, delivering a truly palatable finish… I’ll believe it when I taste it, if it’s anything like the ¾ IPA I’m going to need a tastescope (a device not yet invented which amplifies taste much like a microscope amplifies a view) to taste this brew.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a stein.

A: Slightly hazed golden body with a generous three centimetre white head that slowly dials itself back. Looks rather much like a Lager in all regards, I like that they don’t use preservatives in their beers – that’s one good thing about Sample Brew at least. 7/10.

S: I’m getting a prominent peach aroma from this, notes of grain and light malt syrup as well as an overall sense of Lager dryness… not bad, a touch on the muted side and lacking complexity, but nowhere near as bad as the ¾ IPA so far. 7/10.

T: Paradoxically heavier and less watery than the ¾, but we’ll get to that next… the peach is there with hints of grain, cut grass, and dry crackers. Finishes reasonably dry with next to no bitterness – yep, classic Lager territory here. Flavourwise it definitely needs a bit more ‘oomph’, however apart from that it’s not terrible and drinkable in the least. These Enigma hops have piqued my interest now. 6/10.

M: Mid to light, a touch watery, with a thin carbonation underlying this brew. It’s nothing to write home about but it gets the job done. 6/10.

D: Well at least Sample redeemed themselves somewhat in my eyes with this rather OK Lager. There’s a few foibles, as noted above, overall if you like peaches (the flavour, not The Stranglers song), which I don’t (the flavour that is, I quite like The Stranglers song), then give this a go. Otherwise there are much better Lagers out there to vie for your attention – here’s some off the top of my head: Sierra Nevada Nooner Pilsner, Balter Pilsner, Weihenstephaner Original, Kozel Premium, or Moa Methode (although the Moa isn’t a typical Lager – it’s a bit special). 6/10.

Food match: Baked kingfish with steamed vegetables and a light cream sauce.


Stockade Duel Hoppy Lager

Total Score: 6.15/10 RockMelon1Grapefruit1Biscuit1Stein1

I’m back, and ooo, a free beer for me to review, goody! This time it’s Stockade Duel Hoppy Lager – I think I got this in a mixed Lager dozen Christmas gift pack (yeah I got a Lager gift pack as a present: Friends/family don’t read my blog at all do they?). Says it was dry-hopped with Enigma, and I do like Enigma hops so hopefully this Lager is hoppy as, you know, it says it is on the label. Not a fan of ANY of Stockades marketing though – every bottle label has a completely different theme, and each label looks like it was done by TAFE (trade school) Graphic Design students… third year students, but students nonetheless. Regardless it’s just as well for Stockade I don’t rate labels, just the amber liquid contained within.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a stein.

A: Cloudy (good!) pale straw body with a chalk white 1 centimetre head that ever so slowly compresses down to about 75mm. Decent head retention it must be said. So far so good Hoppy Lager… 7/10.

S: Grapefruit mixed with sauvignon blanc white wine notes. Has some hop character, as expected from the label. Granular biscuit and dry cracker malt base gives it a bit Lager character, yes, yes, also in the name. It’s not a “PHWOAR!” beer, but it’s OK with a subdued aroma. 6/10.

T: Rock melon (cantaloupe to American readers) upfront, mid, back, all over… hints of grapefruit and sauv blanc (ever so slight) and a dry cracker base round out the flavour. It’s hoppy for sure – though the Enigma hops are a bit one-note, and it’s lacking from (and could use more) additional hop characters, unless of course you love rock melon alone. Dry/crisp finish with a hint of bitterness and rock melon in the aftertaste. 6/10.

M: Mid to light, touch watery with all that melon going on, with a thin carbonation. 5/10.

D: Better than expected, however when a beer has “HND KRFTD IN OZ” written on it I’m not expecting much… in fact if it manages to taste better than Vomit Brew with marketing that terrible I’m generally surprised. So yeah, surprised at this rather OK Hoppy Lager. It needs more hops, more malt, more body, more aroma, more ABV, pretty much more everything – but there is the base of a decent beer in there. FFS though Stockade get your marketing shit together – I don’t normally say this about a brewer but the crap marketing has got to be hurting them. 7/10.

Food match: Seafood or chicken in a light sauce, with salad.


Young Henrys Natural Lager

Total Score: 5.6/10 Honeycomb1Lemon1Barley1Stein1

Young Henrys Natural Lager made me think “I bet there’s a way I could make a joke about this beer being a natural blonde/brunette/redhead” but then that would be lame and here at we don’t do lame jokes… So without further ado *drumroll* Young Henrys Natural Lager where the carpet matches the drapes! [Wait, what?! That doesn’t even make sense lame joke or not]. Anyhow this is the last of the full-time Young Henrys I’ve yet to review and I feel like I’ve gone a bit Pokemon on this brewery and “collected them all” so there’s a box ticked there at least… now I can have that coronary I’ve been putting off for years, thank you Young Henrys!

Poured from a 375ml can into a stein.

A:  Hazed golden/straw coloured body with a white sea foam 1 centimetre head that drops back to a microscopic layer of foam (even dragged my microscope out for this one). Not bad, not great, not purple, not harmonica, not Sunday-fete, Lager? Yes, that. A natural blonde too. Head could have been a bit more adventurous. 7/10.

S: If I didn’t know any better I could have sworn someone dropped a honey/lemon cough drop into my beer… but no, it’s just Natural Lagers natural aroma. It’s not ba… I’m going to shut up now. 7/10.

T: *superhero voice* Lemon and honey combine to bring you the beer equivalent of a soothing cough drop! Apart from those overriding (though muted) characteristics it has a slight grainy note and finishes with a crisp/dry note… if I could evoke a visual descriptor for this beer imagine this: You’re sitting on a rocking chair, on a porch in the middle of the day in town where nothing happens called “Dead Gulch, Arizona”. A tumbleweed rolls past. End scene. 5/10.

M: At least the body is ok – mid to light, a little flat but gassy at the same time. 6/10.

D: I’m really spoiled for Lagers since I discovered flavoursome ones such as Sierra Nevada’s Nooner Pilsner or [ANY] Bock – this Young Henrys is a bit like their entire line-up: Wishy-washy (aside from Hop Ale which is OK). If you want an uninspiring craft Lager then look no further – you’ve found it. Now shoot yourself – you suck at liking beers! If Young Henrys were selling fairy-floss they would sell flavours like: Water cracker, vermicelli, plain yoghurt and chestnut. Little boys/girls would be left in tears, and with the beers they brew at the moment I’m frankly surprised if there aren’t any craft beer men crying into their long beards. 5/10.

Food match: The common cold.


Anchor California Lager

Total Score: 7.55/10 Barley1Bread1CutGrass1Stein1

Continuing on the vein of Californian Lagers (see my last review was on Sierra Nevada Nooner Pilsner, n00b!) I came across Anchor’s own take on Lager, and given that they were plum out of plums (and more importantly Nooner Pilsner) at my local Plum and Beer Emporium, I decided to give Anchor a shot at impressing me. The bottle label claims this is based on California’s first Lager brewed in 1876 in an ice pond, how poetic, and beery… I’m sold.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a stein.

A: A not so lively pour somehow produced a 3.5 cm white head that Odin would be proud of… I’m entranced whilst waiting for it to drop down. The body a hazed amber-tinged golden colour, also quite entrancing. Odin is pleased Anchor. 10/10.

S: A bit on the doughy side with half-baked bread notes, a subtle grainy character – bit like a wet bag of barley (nothing wrong with that), a dab of honey, and a light grassy hop note… aroma is very much slanted towards yeast/malt, but hey it’s a Lager, what did you expect? 8/10.

T: Flavour is a touch muted, but we were expecting a bit from the aroma so it’s no biggie, with all of the above: half-baked bread, grains, honey, grassy hops. The yeast and malts do dominate the hops, but there is a touch of bitterness towards the mostly crisp/dry finish. Aftertaste is a bit of that old Lager chestnut: vegetal matter and detracts slightly from the overall experience. Anchor needs to sort that shit out. 7/10.

M: Borderline medium bodied with a light carbonation… Lagers don’t seem to be as fizzy as I remember them, maybe it’s just me, oh well I prefer less gas anyway. 7/10.

D: Pretty decent as far as Lagers go, and we all know I’m not the biggest fan of Lagers anyhow (although in summer they sure can hit that spot) but I think Anchor have done well here without making this a “Wow!” beer like Sierra Nevada’s Nooner [two separate styles I know, but Lagers and Pilsners are so close that if they were humans they wouldn’t be able to legally marry]. In any case this is a beer that I would probably get again, though the aftertaste needs work… could use a touch more oomph in the hops department like Nooner… so that’s a semi-hesitant recommendation from me, with provisos. 8/10.

Food match: I’m going to err on the side of pizza with this brew.