You’d be hard-pressed to find a more understated, unassuming and downright humble mob than the Three Boys team Ralph Bungard has under his watch in the Christchurch suburb of Woolston.

The irony is that they’ve celebrated the birthday with two of the most impressive, bold and beautiful beers you could hope to get your hands on.

Three Boys is best known for its annual Oyster Stout, made with fresh bluff oysters. It’s a flagship beer, being one of the first Kiwi drops to resurrect the ancient practice of adding that most prized shellfish delicacy to beer. The Oyster Stout  is New Zealand’s most awarded dark beer, and is second only to Epic Armageddon for the most gongs won at the New Zealand industry awards.

But why settle for a half-dozen oysters when you can have a dozen?

That’s effectively what they’ve done in brewing an Imperial version of the regular oyster stout. Double the oysters, double the alcohol, double the amazing flavour.

What’s more, this  12 per cent sea monster feels twice as good as the original. It’s luxurious, deep, warm, comforting … full of chocolate, coffee, salted caramel and a tangy brine, reminiscent of the ocean air. It coats your palate with an oily slick of intensity. And it comes in a perfectly sized 330ml bottle that’s ideal for one. Drink it with a meal instead of wine or, better still, it would go perfectly with any dessert.

And speaking of dessert. The other beer Three Boys have brewed to mark their decade in the business is an Apricot Ale. Again this is a big beer, clocking in at 10 per cent, so it might pay to space these two apart rather than have them on the same night, as I did.

The beer was made using apricots harvested from vacant red zone properties in Christchurch, making it a spiritual cousin to the famous Twisted Hop Red Zone Enigma Barley Wine, which famously spent many months maturing in the brewery’s sealed off premises after the 2011 earthquake.

Like the Enigma, the Apricot Ale is a barley wine – designed to age, although it offers great drinking now.

These are two serious beers from an unsung hero of the Kiwi brewery scene and I cannot recommend them highly enough.

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