How I rescued a lonely bottle of beer
Sometimes great beers end up in the wrong places. Not unlike a poor puppy who was adopted by a family not ready to have a dog. There are hundreds of great organizations out there who rescue/save these poor dogs and try to find new homes and new families. Following their lead, I have started rescuing beers. Maybe not as noble of an enterprise, but a worthy cause none the less. I started to notice that some liquors stores (and occasionally restaurants) on a whim will buy a great beer that a distributors is pushing. They taste the beer and think, this is a delicious beer and it will fly off my shelves. Then the beer sits. One sells here. One sells there. Most of the bottles collect dust.
This is exactly what happened to a poor bottle of Moa 5 Hop Ale I recently found. Moa Brewing Company is a New Zealand brewery that isn't particularly well knows in the United States, but a few bottles have luckily made it over the Pacific. Personally, at the writing of this, I've only had the 5 Hop Ale. How did this beer end up lost? It's hard to sell a bottle of beer for $5.00 if you never heard of the brand before and there isn't a tasting offered. I happened upon this beer while exploring the selection at a specialty wine store knowing that sometimes amazing beers end up in such stores. At first glance the selection of beer was a disappointment at best. The standard beers choices littered the selection like so many liquor stores. A couple of quality choices but nothing of note. Then, hidden in the corner of a shelf was a bottle of Moa 5 Hop. The bottle has a well-designed label that I didn't recognize. It was that last one. It sat anxiously all by itself waiting desperately for someone to save it. Like a poor puppy in the dog pound it stared with its big glossy eyes and begged for me to take it home. I picked up the bottle—a fine layer of dust that had collected on the glass—I brushed off the dust and knew that I had to save this beer.
I couldn’t wait to get this beer home and into a glass. I found out a bit more about the brewery, the beer, and what in the world a Moa is. Founded by Josh Scott (winemaker for Allan Scott Family Winemakers), the brewery sits in the middle New Zealand’s wine country. All of their brews are bottle conditioned and use local New Zealand ingredients. The Moa, the bird featured on the label, is a extinct flightless bird that could reach 12 feet in height and 510 lbs in weight. These birds are crazy looking and worth checking out.
Back to the beer. With the red cap popped off, the thick cloudy malty goodness poured beautifully into the glass. The aroma caught me off guard, as I have become use to American hop varieties in IPAs. The distinct aroma of the Nobel hops saaz and hallertau—used in this brew—reminded me more if a German/Bohemian Pilsner than an IPA. Of course, this isn’t an American style IPA, but still an unexpected and welcomed surprise for my nose. This is a tasty brew. The malts are very rich and the yeast used provides a low apparent attenuation, which provides for a pleasant sweet finish. The use of flavorful Munich and Vienna malts no doubt helps make that bit of sweetness so tasty. The hops add a well-balanced bitterness with a bit of earthy spiciness.
How lucky to find this beer! And too often great beers like this get lost in display cases and endless shelves cluttered with mediocrity. You may not always find a gem on those dust collecting bottoms corners, but it’s worth searching out and saving a beer from oblivion. Just like all those poor dogs, these poor beers need a good home too.