Today we are discussing two beers from two different breweries, both are very impressive drops and there is one man who has been involved in both. That man is Soren Eriksen, the Danish Kiwi, who is Assistant Brewer at Renaissance Brewery in Blenheim, and Head Brewer and owner of 8 Wired which is contract brewed (one assumes by Soren himself) at the Renaissance Brewery.
So Soren is a man who produces two breweries worth of beer. I don’t want you thinking that these are run of the mill, mindless knock them out beers which anyone could make either. Between them Renaissance and 8 Wired are responsible for 9 of the top 15 best beers in Australia and New Zealand as announced by ratebeer.com a couple of weeks ago. So the lesson here is, if you want to produce great beer, employ Soren Eriksen and you’ll go a long way to getting it right.
But the proof is in the drinking and I recently had the chance to try a couple of Soren’s brews. First up was the Renaissance Craftsman Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. I’d been saving this for a special occasion and I thought a weekend away down the coast with some friends would be a perfect excuse. The fact that this weekend comes with baked treats from Chris and Jodie meant I even had some awesome ‘Chocolate Stout’ appropriate matched food.
In truth I was hoping for the famous rumballs, but instead got equally yummy lamingtons, made all the better when cut in half and topped with jam made by another friend Justin, with plums from the backyard of his northern suburbs home. This is sounding all a bit hipster at this point. What if I told you we were also drinking this whilst playing a high stakes game of Cluedo? Not helping is it?
Well call me a hipster if you must, I don’t care, because this beer was awesome. It pours a dark chocolate colour with a creamy tan coloured head. I thought this could have a silkier, fuller body. I was expecting a something luxurious and thick and syrupy from a chocolate oatmeal stout and thus found this a tad thin. In terms of flavour there are hints of chocolate (but only hints) and perhaps some roasted coffee beans, but no single flavour overpowers another. I am tempted to use that overused beer reviewer’s word – balanced. All in all though a very nice beer – Pint.
Fast forward another week and myself and Jord are back at home on a Sunday evening, when the weather (finally) turned cold and rainy, a perfect time to pull of the bottle of 8wired Sultan which had been sitting in the fridge for about 4 months waiting for a cold and stormy night. The Sultan is a beer brewed with sultanas in it (which kind of makes it sound like wine to me). This is no gimmick though, you can smell the sultanas. In fact it smells like sultanas that have be stewed in rum.
This is one of those ‘whoa’ beers, where you take the first sip and you are blown over (in fact I think people who claim all beers tastes the same should have to take a sip of this, they won’t like it, but it’ll teach them what beer can be). The taste is complex to say the least, silky smooth (although not as syrupy as I expected) sweet, but not in a sickly way, and the 10% alcohol is nicely disguised in the sip. Admittedly it comes back as heat in the mouth about 30 seconds after you sip, but that only makes you want more. Overall this is an outstanding beer, not a BBQ guzzler, but more of a cheese and fireplace beer. Jug
So hats off to you Mr Eriksen, you seem to know what you are doing. Oh and this story seems to suggest Soren is funding his business with his poker winnings – talk about a rock star brewer.