On The Shelf – McCashin’s Brewery Stoke Bomber Kiwi Pale Ale

By The Gentleman

Stoke Bomber

Nelson’s McCashin’s Brewery is one of New Zealand’s oldest craft brewers, but I only stumbled across it after one of my recent searches for beers with interesting design and flavours. The prospect of trying a Kiwi Pale Ale in a simple yet effectively designed package was just too good to pass up.

Stoke Bomber

The Bomber range of McCashin’s Stoke Beer represents the breweries experimental and crazy side. It’s the sort of flexibility that make craft brewers so fun, they can throw together flavours that interest them and see what happens while we get to drink the often tasty and always different results. The Kiwi Pale Ale is one of five current beers in the Bomber range. The beer gets its name from the local Wai-iti hops that are used, making it a truly local brew. Impressively, the brewery also sources its water from a 14,000 year old Paleo water source that is 350m below where the brewery stands. I never thought I’d write that sentence, but there you go. At least you know the water is up to the task.

Stoke Bomber

The whole Bomber range has a really clean and simple design that is highly effective. The bold white and yellow text on the big 650ml amber bottle invokes a bygone era. You could imagine bottles of Stoke Bomber waiting in the Officer’s Tent after the latest mission. It doesn’t need to be flashy or edgy to stand out that’s the job for what’s in the bottle. It’s a real testament to the power of damn good typography. I’m also disappointed that I only ordered one bottle because the carton for a case of six beers is really cool with a picture of two members of a bomber crew decked out in full kit looking rather intense.

Stoke Bomber

The Kiwi Pale Ale is said to have strong caramel, biscuit and marmalade notes. The caramel and biscuit are definitely there and give the beer quite a thick mouthfeel, but not too thick to be cloying. The marmalade is there also, giving a little bit of fruitiness and sweetness. The caramel and malt dominate the aroma. The beer pours with a reasonable head and lacing and the colour is quite a dark, almost murky, amber brown. It’s not overly bitter with the caramel providing a creaminess and softness to the finish. It’s a slow drinking beer that is quite still, with low carbonation, and gave me a more than expected buzz despite being a reasonable 5.5% ABV. I did notice a bit of sediment in the head and I wasn’t sure if that was intentional, like the Cooper’s Pale Ale.

Stoke Bomber

The Stoke Bomber Kiwi Pale Ale was an enjoyable beer. The bottle is great and the beer has enough flavour from that really nice caramel that sipping it throughout the evening is a pleasant experience. Plus, in a 650ml bottle there is a lot of it so you can sit back, relax and forget that it’s the start of a new week.

Stoke Bomber

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Alaskan Rock Week – On The Shelf – Alaskan Rock Vodka

By The Gentleman

 

The Lady and I are very excited to return with another week long engagement with a local Australian craft distiller. This time we are getting to know Sydney based vodka maker Alaskan Rock Vodka. Today we’re going to tell you a little more about Alaskan Rock before shaking up a few cocktails later in the week. We have to admit, we are starting to like this whole blogger thing right about now.

Alaskan Rock Vodka

Alaskan Rock Vodka is made with the help of another local distiller, the award winning Lark Distillery from Tasmania. The vodka is made with malted barley and is distilled twice in copper pot stills. I can’t say I’d ever had vodka made with malted barley before so this alone was reason enough to want to give what Alaskan Rock are making a try. They believe that using malted barley gives their vodka the expected crisp neutral spirit flavour while also imparting a hint of malt to the flavour. The double distillation process is utilised to ensure the purest, cleanest flavour possible which is definitely what you want in a good quality vodka.

Alaskan Rock Vodka

Alaskan Rock’s vodka comes in a super stylish package. The liquor comes packaged in a box which they like to call “the Ned Kelly” due to the slot revealing the bottle’s raised lettering. I love the way the slot reveals the name of the vodka and just teases what is inside. More spirits need embrace the box as it can be a really useful extension of their branding, like Alaskan Rock have done here. The bottle itself is rather stunning. It was designed by industrial design team Vert and the bottles are made by glass-makers in Mexico. At first you notice the deep black of the bottle. I like the fact that you can’t see the vodka and instead the whole bottle is this black glass. It again adds to this image of Alaskan Rock as being something different and a little bit mysterious. Obviously, the use of white lettering is just classic, it really pops on the black. Having the lettering wrap around the bottle is an interesting touch. It makes you want to have the bottle constantly on an angle so you can see all the lettering at once. The second thing you notice is the weight of the bottle. Good god it’s heavy. If someone ever breaks into Cocktail Challenge HQ I know what I’m reaching for! Alternatively, you could get two bottles and you could do weights! Picking the bottle up was also the first time I noticed the extra detail on the bottle, what Alaskan Rock call the pronounced punt, where the bottom of the bottle has a mountain range cut into it. A mountain range cut into it. Wow. Touches like this are just so cool and show Alaskan Rock Vodka’s attention to detail and design. It is certainly a package that stands out from the crowd and makes sure Alaskan Rock can’t be described as just another vodka.

Alaskan Rock Vodka Alaskan Rock Vodka
To sample the Alaskan Rock Vodka I took a few sips on its own (still developing the hang of sipping vodka neat but I’ll get there) and then mixed up a Vodka Tonic with some Fentiman’s Tonic Water and a wedge of lemon. Yes it’s supposed to be a lime but hey, rules were made to be broken. On its own there was definitely something different about the flavour. You can pick up a slight caramel flavour mingling with the expected vodka taste. You can also pick it up on the nose as well, which is relatively clean without the overly pungent smell of alcohol that would normally put you off sipping some vodka. It gives Alaskan Rock something extra. The Vodka Tonic was very refreshing. I’m really starting to enjoy Fentiman’s Tonic Water as a mixer and combined with the Alaskan Rock it was a very flavourful drink. The Alaskan Rock becomes the base to elevate all the potent herbal elements of the Fentimans Tonic yet the alcohol and the malt of the vodka cut through that bitterness of the tonic. It doesn’t make it sweet, oh no, but it just makes it even more drinkable.

Alaskan Rock VodkaAlaskan Rock Vodka

Alaskan Rock is a stylish entry to the growing range of locally made vodkas. How can it not be with that super impressive bottle? But the bottle isn’t everything and luckily the contents provide that smooth, crisp, pure flavour that a high quality vodka should have. We’re really looking forward to seeing how we can use this premium vodka to elevate some cocktails throughout the week. So sit back, relax and welcome to Alaskan Rock Vodka Week.

 

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Disclaimer: The Cocktail Challenge was provided a free sample bottle of Alaskan Rock Vodka for this article. Although this post is sponsored all opinions are our own.