You might say I'm a little behind on my editorial calendar (what else is new?). The topic in question? A new line of craft imports bearing the mark of the Moa Brewing Company. Favorite Brands was kind enough to drop off samples of this newly distributed product shortly after it arrived at retail in early December. Seeing as how that was back before Christmas, I figure it's about time I get to "work".
Out of Marlborough, New Zealand, Moa's introductory shipments include their Imperial Stout, St. Josephs Belgian Style Tripel, and Breakfast beer. Each is packaged in a 375 mL bottle, which arrives caged and corked as a nod to the region's burgeoning wine culture. They are green in color, and shipped in enclosed 4-pack carriers to help ease concerns about light-struck beer.
As for how these brews taste, let's break them down one at a time and give them their proper due.
Breakfast - Put aside the specialty glassware, as you'll be able to detect this beer's aroma from across the room. Varied and complex fruit flavors include notes of banana peel, kiwi, cherry and wild berries, with a hint of bready grain, some yeast and a bubble gum note rounding things out. A slightly vinous character makes it taste a little like something other than beer, but it's an enjoyable drink that would certainly fit in with a morning meal. Just one for me, though, as the intensity of the fruit might get to be a little much over time.
St. Josephs - Quite simply, this is a solid, well-executed take on a Belgian tripel. It's yeasty and bready with candy sugar, light lemony citrus, orange peel and the expected peppery finish. A fairly strong brew, it has a mild bitterness and lively carbonation thanks to bottle conditioning.
Imperial Stout - Aged in oak Pinot Noir barrels, this is the one of the group most likely to make the beer geeks giddy. Somewhat barrel-forward, black cherries and black raspberries lead over typical stout flavors and faint wood tones. Roast and dark chocolate are more prevalent further down the glass, with wine tannins contributing to a moderately bitter finish. I'd like to see the malt stand up a bit more to the Pinot, but this is a good beer that gets markedly better as it warms.
The intended price point for these brews is around $19.99 for a 4-pack, with local shops charging $4.99 or slightly higher for singles. That's roughly equivalent to paying $9.99 for a 750 mL bottle, should you wish make comparisons to similar beers found in the more common format.
Brewery owner Josh Scott will be in town during the week of January 21 to meet and greet with the locals, and maybe provide some insight into the brewery's future plans (as of now, further releases are pending TABC approval). Details on special events associated with his visit are still being finalized, and will be added to the weekly events listing as they become available.