Beer drinkers, as wine drinkers, are pretty well catered for in New Zealand. There are plenty of microbreweries and brew pubs about – Brew Moon, the Dux de Lux and the Twisted Hop are amongst some Canterbury favourites – but even the big breweries have pretty decent beers. One of the biggies is Speight’s Brewery. Known as “The Pride of the South”, it is based in Dunedin and produces a very tasty dark beer called, in an obvious move, Old Dark.
Normally, given my preference for wine I don’t get to taste too many new beers but, as Bealey’s Speight’s Ale House opened around the corner from us in Christchurch recently, it seemed churlish to ignore their obvious speciality. Especially so when I discovered that they have a limited edition Chocolate Ale (Dunedin is also the home of Cadbury) on sale at the moment. I demanded a pint and spent the next hour drinking it – it’s certainly not something that will go down fast.
Despite a few initial doubts, it was a fine flavoured, although sweet, drink. It had a true dark chocolate taste with a cherryish aftertaste. Immediately it reminded me of the Black Forest chocolates that were my childhood favourites from the Christmas box of Cadbury’s Roses. That was, of course, before Cadburys decided to replace them and the yummy marzipan ones with some of those manky praline-centred things. The information on the bar suggested pairing the Chocolate Ale with rich chocolate deserts but it is a perfect after-dinner drink on its own. Maybe there should be an Irish version – Chocolate Guinness, anybody?