I discovered, growing up in the eighties in New Zealand that beer consumption was largely about deciding which side of the DMZ between DB and Lion you were. Or more often than not, found yourself as a result of location, family heritage or sporting loyalty. The idea of the “flavour” of beer was secondary to the culture of beer. Consuming beer (and often in large quantities) was an automatic response to a social situation.
Despite this, arguments have raged between both sides over many decades on the basis of flavour and this has always confused me because as far as I could tell, it all tasted the same. I found myself often agreeing that there was a difference in order to maintain my acceptance within the peer group of the moment. A bit like agreeing with your university friend that E.E Cummings was awesome, you knew the meaning of existentialism and that Fellini was a genius of Italian Film. It was all bollocks frankly. Even today, people still maintain that there is a difference between the flavour of one mainstream beer and another. Put a blindfold on me and I can’t really tell.
But the brief was to talk about Hallertau’s Maximus Humulus Lupulus India Pale Ale, which is bursting with flavour. Translated, the name means big or maximum hops, or at least I'm guessing it is, on the basis that Humulus Lupulus is latin for hops, and a stab in the dark at the meaning of Maximus (I have seen Gladiator you know).
The name and illustration on the label suggested an aggressive muscle bound hop monster on steroids was trapped in the bottle and waiting to be set free. I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case.
Those massive hoppy beers remind me of the big buttery malolactic fermented chardonnays of the nineties, I miss them terribly. But this is no brutal warrior of a beer, it’s more a smiling assassin. The beer has herbaceous stealth and complexity, with a fragrant bitterness reminiscent of citrus, a characteristic I mostly associate with the beers from Hallertau's pals at Liberty Brewing. So while the description might be in breach of the fair trading act, don’t let that stop you buying it, it’s well worth it, just expect a dagger in place of a hammer.
Hallertau’s Maximus Humulus Lupulus India Pale Ale can be found at all good beer and wine stores, supermarkets and on premise across New Zealand. For a full list of stockists, click here.