My $50 birthday beer treat

Happy Birthday to me. I won’t reveal how old I am but when I was born JFK was still alive and nobody had been to the moon.

I figured this year, since I long ago waived birthday presents, I’d treat myself – the age I’ve attained is a personal milestone in some ways. My father died at a relatively young age and now I’ve seen more sunrises than he did. It seems significant somehow.

Birthday drinks

The gift I gave myself? A beer of course.

Not just any beer, naturally, but one that’s aged a bit as well: Garage Project’s Cockswain’s Courage Double Barrelled Edition Porter. It bears the tagline “Tastes like war!” which my dad – a military man – would have saluted.

I know people love to hate on the price of fancy beer so I’m honour-bound to admit I spent a shade under $50 for 650ml of 12.8 per cent imperial porter aged for 18 months in bourbon barrels.

Was it worth it? Well, it was a gift (admittedly to myself) and surely we’re allowed to be kind to ourselves from time to time. Besides, no-one was going to buy it for me.

But was it worth it?

Yes, it tasted amazing. Like the very best bourbon mixed, not with Coke as I was wont to do as a young fool, but with liquified black forest cake. It was sumptuous and decadent – just the kind of thing you need on a birthday.

This was split three ways – no person could, or should, attempt this beer alone as that would be bit sad on a social level and bad for your liver and head. I reckon you could split it five ways as an after dinner event.

But I didn’t buy the beer  to indulge myself, or have a taste sensation, or even to wind up the trolls by drinking what is probably the most expensive beer available in New Zealand right now.

I bought it because I wanted to be, fleetingly, part of something.

The original version of this Cockswain’s Courage won a silver medal at the World Beer Cup in 2014, which – regardless of how you feel about beer competitions – makes it one of the best beers in the world.

This is the second (limited) edition and it’s taken the best part of two years to make, so yeah, I wanted something rare, if only to say I’d had it, and not to miss out.

Cockswain’s Courage also comes with a wider story that includes online games, comics and videos that position the beer – alongside it’s more well-known comrade Venusian Pale Ale – in a steampunk- style fantasy universe created by Weta Workshop designer Greg Broadmore.

It all goes over my head – I’m too old I fear – but that doesn’t matter. The fact this beer-fantasy oeuvre even exists is fascinating in its own right (see more at

So, yes, it was worth it. I just wish I had another bottle to open next year.