How do I order this trio?
I considered pairing the two IPAs together to compare and contrast them, then finishing with Ruru. I even briefly considered taking Gnome Project separately to Checkmate and Ruru, since I have no urge to kick chess pieces or owls whenever I see them, unlike garden gnomes. But in the end I settled on: ascending ABV order and keeping the two New Zealand styles together.†
Ruru is a great example of what I expected from a New Zealand pilsner. The pilsner malt aroma is sweet, almost syrupy, but it isn’t the malt that holds all your attention once you start drinking. Its full body sets the foundation for showing off the hops – Motueka, Nelson Sauvin and Kohatu Unfiltered bring a flap of Bickford’s Lime Cordial and white wine, with a slow bitterness that glides in.
Gnome Project NZ IPA shares the majority of its hop bill with Ruru above, adding Riwaka and Nectaron to Motueka, Nelson Sauvin and Kohatu. But between the extra hop varieties and the rounder, richer malt character (thank you Munich malt), GP doesn’t have those same distinct NZ hop notes. I probably don't use the word "melange" enough for a Crafty Pint writer,†† [I prefer it with an accented first é too – Editor] but the sticky fruit flavours here can be described best as a melange; they’re inseparable from each other, but citrusy and tropical in their combination. This isn’t a fruit juice though, unless it’s a juice that’s been spiked with a shot of dry resin and alcohol flavours as it warms.
When we get to Checkmate, we’re looking at a different beast again. Sure, it may offer up lovely stonefruit and citrus peel on the nose, making you think you’re getting a fruit-driven IPA, but the fruitiness melds with piney dankness on the tongue. Before you know it, the dank has beaten out the fruit. There’s also a rich bitterness that doesn’t hit all at once – it metes out its impact in increments, like the food at a fully catered cocktail party, or the steady beat of an 80s rock ballad where you can tell the producer is really into drum machines. Checkmate finishes with a bitter grainy malt character that makes you feel like a grownup. Which I guess chess kind of does as well.
† Beer writing may seem glamorous, but a surprisingly large portion of it is just deciding what order to list beers in. †† We have a yearly quota we’re supposed to reach if we want to keep our job at the end of each year. So far I’ve just been scraping by, distracting the boss with an excessive use of non-sequiturs and side jokes in the footnotes.
Published March 2, 2022 2022-03-02 00:00:00