Nicely does it for Parrotdog

Parrotdog brewery has a simple catch-phrase – nice.
Nice is one of those words that when used without enthusiasm completely belies its meaning. Think of someone nodding along … “Nice, interesting, hmmm.”
But like a lot of four-letter words, “nice” simplifies bigger concepts: pleasurable, satisfying, marvellous, delightful.
And in the case of Parrotdog, “nice” does a nice job of nicely summing up the brewery – from the founders, all top blokes called Matt, to the understated branding, to the beers themselves which present with a cohesion, balance and quality that’s hard to attain.
I’m talking about Parrotdog because – use whatever animal-related metaphor you like (rule the roost, top dog) – they emerged as the stars of the New World Beer and Cider Awards announced this week.
There were just 14 gold medals handed out for beer (seven for cider) and Parrotdog claimed three of them.
The brewery defended the title it won last year in the pilsner class, with its Aussie-hopped Pandemonium Pilsner, a beer with more bite than many pilsners on the market.
It also came out on top in the fiercely fought IPA class, with its West Coast-style Forget-Me-Not IPA crowned champion. And in the pale ale class, its delightful Falcon APA took a gold medal in a category dominated by the country’s best (IMHO) XPA – Sawmill XPA, a lean, hoppy, flavoursome and sessionable pale ale.
It’s pleasing when you’re involved in these awards – as I was – to see a brewery you respect and admire get deserved acclaim. Parrotdog has worked hard over the past couple of years as it built a new brewery, bar and taproom in Wellington’s Lyall Bay and the team has worked equally hard on the quality of the beers. Forget-me-Not is the essence of a modern IPA – every part of the beer is in harmony and it’s one of those drops that has you holding up the glass after the first sip to admire what’s going on.
There were plenty of other talking points out of the awards – notably the three kettle-soured beers that claimed gold medals: Deep Creek’s salty, lemony Steam Funk Gose; 8 Wired’s Cucumber Hippy; and Garage Project’s peach-infused 2.9 per cent wonder, White Mischief. All three have the potential to cut a path towards beer for wine-lovers.
Of the other gold medallists, I expect Behemoth’s Lid Ripper Hazy IPA to be a real hit. It’s a tropical fruit flavour-packed beer with the added bonus of having a rip-top lid that allows easy drinking straight from the can. Hop Federation’s Lager was a real revelation – light, bright and with just-right bitterness – and I was completely enamoured by a couple of dark beers – Wigram Brewery’s Smokey Ace, where the smoke integrates beautifully with the rich porter, and newcomer Kainui from the far north with its Rank & File American Porter.
Fortune Favours, new out of Wellington, executed its Oregonian Amber Ale to perfection – it’s easy drinking yet rich and satisfying – while down Queenstown way, Altitude Brewing’s Persistent High, a charming wheat beer, should do much to reignite a style that seems slightly underappreciated in New Zealand.
Finally, Hertog Jan Grand Prestige returned from last year as a winner – and just the other week picked up a hard-to-come-by gold medal at the World Beer Cup. This 10 per cent ultimate indulgence really needs to be tried. It’s nice.