Ammunition Bunkers have been in Birkenhead at Kauri Point since 1935. During World War 2, the US Navy took them over and developed a range of newer bunkers. This link to our local Heritage honors them with a great American Pale Ale - Bunker APA.
When we developed Bunker APA, the feedback suggested we make a juicy, grapefruit, aromatic, slight bitterness, mid strength ABV beer. We blended 3 great american hops - Ahtanum, Mosaic and Citra - on a 'secret malt base' which results in this balanced and clean beer running at 5.4% ABV. This beer is pleasantly aromatic, tasty and juicy with a clean finish.
This is the first beer I have tried from the Birkenhead Brewing Co and I intend it not to be my last. I didn't know anything about the bunker APA when I was selected to review it so I did some research gathering and was glad to see it had won a silver medal from the brewers guild of NZ 2017 and since tasting it I couldn't agree more that it is deserving. Looking over the bottle I really like the style of labelling with three separate labels spread out evenly around the bottle. One of the Labels has an IBU rating stating 35 which I had to look up as I have never come across it before. Ibu is an abbreviation for International bitterness units and it measures how many parts per million of isohumulone is contained in the beer. Isohumulone is the acid found within hops that gives off the bitterness.
The bottle is a handily sized 888ml which is a plus as with craft beers you tend to want to share around some so others can taste it also. Its alcohol percentage by volume is 5.4 which is quite common with craft beers being slightly higher in alcohol percentage. The beer itself consists of three American hops being Ahtanum, Mosaic and Citra. Each of the hops adds their own distinctive fruity notes and flavouring to the malt-based beer. I opened the bottle to a crisp pop noise and allowed the beer to flow down into a beer mug which created a nice foamy head on the beer. The beer beams a radiant golden colour and has the aroma of crisp summer fruits. The foam disappears rather quickly but the taste does not which leaves a lingering hoppy, fruity and tanginess flavour.
I find this beer so easy to drink and it is the perfect drink for a hot summers day or a cold winters night which shows how versatile beer is. It reminds me a lot of my favourite craft beers made by Croucher brewing in Rotorua and although those still remain my pick of best beer this would have to be a close second. I will defiantly be going out of my way to find more of the Birkenhead brewing Co range as it looks like they have some other interesting drinks in their line up and hopefully they have a similar great quality that the Bunker APA possesses.
I had not heard of The Birkenhead Brewing Company before seeing them come up on the KIWIreviews website, but thinking (kindly) of my husband, I decided to request this for him and give him a treat for a change!
This American Pale Ale (APA) contains three hops; Ahtanum (earthy and citrusy), Mosaic (bit sweeter and fruitier) and Citra (lighter citrus type flavours) so I was interested to see how it compared to other APA's in terms of sweetness and kick.
My husband was the first to comment that the bottle seemed a little small... until we realised that we had thought it was a 1 litre, in fact it is 888ml - a very weird amount - larger than the usual 750 we were used too, but smaller than the also common 1 litre. I liked that it was this amount - meaning hubby got a couple of good sized glasses and me a good sized tasting too - no more complaining from him that I was stealing his beer. Of note is that it is 5.4% alcohol - so slightly higher than we are used to. if you were not sharing this beer however, you may find it a little much - depending on your plans for the evening/afternoon. Furthermore the label itself is a really nice one - which might sound strange - but as a female, I can sometimes be swayed by the nice packaging!!
Pouring it into a pre -chilled glass, which is the best way to drink a cold beer in hubby's opinion, and I noticed the colour was lighter than ales I have had in the past, and had a slightly sweet smell, almost flowery. The ale does say it has a "secret malt base'', maybe there is more than just malt in the base.
Taking a sip I was met with a reasonably malty flavour, but it is nicely complimented by the citrus flavour that comes through also. I am not one to like heavy beers so found this really good for me, however hubby said he did not really feel it was any different to other APA's he has tried - and although nice, and he would drink again, he would not actively seek it out. I disagree a bit - and further to that think it would make a great shandy!
Having tried the Kauri beer in this range, I was interested in trying this one to see how they would compare. I had read the descriptions and was prepared for them to be quite different - and they certainly were. Bunker is more of a traditional light beer, nice chilled and smooth to drink. It would be great on a hot day straight from the fridge. Although the Europeans laugh at kiwis for chilling their beer, I think the only time to drink beer at room temperature is when it is seriously frosty outside.
Because the bottles contain nearly 900 ml, the contents need to be drunk in one go. My daughter and son-in-law were very happy to help me drink it and ensure it was all used up. We got three good helpings from the bottle, with a top-up to use up the last bit, and it went very well with some spicy peanuts and pieces of cheese. You always need something savoury to nibble when you are enjoying a beer; it is all part of the ritual.
When we first removed the crown cap, we were met by an unexpectedly sweet fruity scent. It was most attractive, reminiscent of muscatel grapes or elderflower in full bloom - heady and inviting. The description states that it contains three US hop varieties with a secret malt ingredient, and also possibly grapefruit. Certainly, neither muscatel nor elder is listed as an ingredient, but possibly one of them is the secret additive? That smell is quite unique. My daughter actually said she was happy to just keep on sniffing it and forget about drinking it at all!
The brew is not too gassy; it has a small head when first poured but that quickly settles to a thin layer. All of us liked the slightly bitter aftertaste which lessens as you drink. My daughter in particular prefers a light beer, so this was perfect for her. It has a higher alcohol content that many other commercial beers, but we did not consider a bottle shared by three people was overdoing it.
The packaging is attractive; we liked the label, and thought the bottle shape was quite classy. The crown cap could be a problem if one person was drinking it and did not want to finish it all on the same day; we were wondering if it is sold in stubbies as well. There again, the price would dictate that it is not a drink you would have every day; we would be more likely to have it for a special occasion as we do with wine.
The best before date is clearly displayed on the bottle; this is important as beer does have a shelf life. It was good to see that the date is a good eight months from the time we got the bottle. We would also like to see a return deposit for the bottle as is done in parts of Australia. This would minimise litter by encouraging people to bring back their empties. In today's reducing-waste climate, this would be a really good move in New Zealand. If some companies do it, others will follow.
I will start off by saying that if there was a bottle of wine, beer, vodka or other spirits on the table, beer would be my very last choice, however, I'm always open to trying new things because you never know when you might find a beer that is enjoyed. I like to look at glass bottles, their shapes and asthetics, having grown up with an older brother who collected bottles, and so a close inspection was held. This is an interesting size at 888mls, which I could easily understand if we were in China, where it is considered lucky, but not as much from something crafted in NZ, nevertheless, this adds to the individuality of this brand. It's also very easy to see both how much alcohol percentage this has but also its IBU score (aka its bitterness rating).
Opening this up, I did wish that it had a screw top, as not everyone has a wine stopper or similar handy, nor is everyone going to finish a bottle in one night (I certainly don't have any friends local to call over to share this with at the drop of a hat). Giving it a sniff I found the aroma very pleasant and poured myself a small drink, still loving the smell, to me it was reminiscent of a cider so based on that I was keen to give it a try. However, upon giving it a sip I found that it was a little more bitter than I was expecting and had a bit of a sharp edge to it. Since drinking it straight wasn't my idea of a good drink, I decided to make it a shandy by addin some good old L&P. Whilst the drink still had a slight bitterness to it, it actually went really well together and made a very palatable drink.
If this was on offer, I'd happily have it as a shandy, straight from the bottle it won't be a first choice but I know a few people who this would be a good gift for.
The Birkenhead Brewing Company have come out with an interesting little APA. This Bunker APA contains three American hops; Ahtanum (known for its earthy, citrus, floral, and grapefruit notes), Mosaic (sweeter notes of berry, fruity, herbal, tropical, citrus, and pine) and the more popular Citra (tropical fruit and citrus aroma).
This APA comes in a unique 888ml bottle. An odd mid-point between a 750ml Swappa and a 1L Squealer, it appears to be appealing to the Chinese market (who see the number '8' as lucky, thus 888 = triple fortune). An interesting choice to crank out bottles of this size for that reason, but it's definitely an advantage to have something larger than the 330 or 500ml bottles, as everybody inevitably wants to try a craft beer due to the novelty of it, so the more you have to share, the better.
Pouring the beverage into a glass, a low-density head forms, which rapidly dissipates until only a thin ring remains around the edge of the glass. The beer has minimal lacing, but the thin head does regenerate when swilled due to a reasonably high level of carbonation. The Bunker APA is translucent, and has a deep golden hue. there are definite sweet floral and citrusy notes present in the aroma. There is a good mix of sweetness from the malt to complement the earthiness from the hops, and the wheat provides a thickness to the flavour without adding too much density to the beverage, in a physical sense.
Lovely and crisp, it's an enjoyable drop, that leaves you content, though there is a slight harshness to the flavour. One does not need to continually drink large volumes to enjoy this; the flavour profile makes it a beverage you will want to sip and let the bubbles flit about your tongue as you enjoy the strength of the fruity hops and malt. Sitting at 5.4%, the Bunker APA is slightly higher than your average run-of-the-mill beer, but requires much less volume to enjoy, which equals better value.
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