A brewery in New Zealand has created what is being called “the world’s first known whisky-beer,” a 7% ABV golden ale brewed with 100% peat-smoked Scottish distilling malt. “Rex Attitude,” brewed by Yeastie Boys (ugh) in Wellington, New Zealand, is said to be intensely smoky and earthy, and has been described as tasting like bacon or smoked fish. Some have also described it as tasting like medicine, but I’m assuming those aren’t whisky drinkers, because most alcohol tastes like medicine to the uninitiated.
It actually took me a moment to figure out how I feel about this beer. Ultimately, my thought process was a lot like the discussion between two elderly art patrons as they gazed upon a portrait of Kramer in the Seinfeld episode “The Letter“:
Elderly woman: “I sense great vulnerability. A man-child crying out for love. An innocent orphan in the post-modern world.”
Elderly man: “I see a parasite. A sexually depraved miscreant who is seeking only to gratify his basest and most immediate urges.”
Elderly woman:”His struggle is man’s struggle. He lifts my spirit.”
Elderly man: “He is a loathesome, offensive brute. Yet I can’t look away.”
Elderly woman:”He transcends time and space.”
Elderly man: “He sickens me.”
Elderly woman: “I love it.”
Elderly man: “Me too.”
While I find the concept of this beer potentially repellent, I admire the spirit that crafted it. As a beer geek, I love experimentation and breweries willing to invest in trying out new things, especially when they think they’re going to fail. Which is exactly what Yeastie Boys brewmaster Stu McKinlay thought. “I thought it would be so intense it would be undrinkable,” McKinlay said. But his tune changed when he tried it. “We thought we’d have a crack at it, and when we tasted it I knew we were going to have a winner.” I’d love to taste this beer to see exactly what Stu is talking about. I’m not a huge fan of beers that taste like fish, but you never know until you give it a try, right?
Stu’s partner is Sam Possenniskie, and he’s okay with the fact that some people are going to be turned off by Rex Attitude. “At a craft brewery you want to make something that people will either love or hate,” Sam says. “It’s not some bland thing you drink for the sake of drinking.” I like his swing-for-the-fences attitude.
It remains to be seen if Yeastie Boys (it pains me to type that every time) is vying to become the Down Under version of Brew Dog, but it doesn’t look to be the case (otherwise there’d be Kiwi costumes, the beer would be 50 proof and be brewed with Cialis).
Instead, I think this is a case of what’s great about craft beer, especially the American scene – guys messing around trying to come up with some new and tasty. I say full steam ahead Yeastie Boys – No Sleep ’til Aukland! (sorry, couldn’t resist).