Downing the delights of way down under

The northern and southern hemispheres are complete opposites in many ways — the north contains most of the Earth’s land mass and about 90 per cent of the population while the south has most of the Earth’s water and about 10 per cent of the population. Of course the weather patterns are flip-flopped — when we have winter the south enjoys summer. And although the sun rises in the east and sets in the west no matter where we are shadows move clockwise in the north and counter-clockwise in the south. On top of this the moon is upside down in the southern hemisphere (naturally it’s the “right way” up for us).

However what this scribe finds most intriguing are the suds of the south and all the surprising flavours of the southern hemisphere’s indigenous savoury hops and sweet succulent grains.

Three recent additions to the Alberta market from the lands Down Under inspired this rumination on all things reversed:

• 8 Wired Hopwired IPA (8.3 per cent) New Zealand: brewed with hops from Tasmania and New Zealand on top of sweet and succulent New Zealand malt the Hopwired hits you in the head with a woody grapefruit taste. The southern hops used here have different flavours from their northern sister plants and are marked by big blasts evocative of tropical punch and Sauvignon Blanc. Yes this beer has a slight similarity to wine but don’t be fooled by the description it’s as bitter and bites just as hard as a Tasmanian devil.

• 8 Wired The Big Smoke (6.2 per cent) New Zealand: this smoked beer is a unique addition to our market and sure to be a foodie’s delight. It’s perfect for pairing with almost everything­­­­­­ — shrimp and lamb off the barbie sharp sheep milk cheeses or the darkest of chocolate desserts. It’s a southern twist on a northern German classic that uses Bamberg’s beech-wood smoked malt (also known as Rauchmalz) in a porter rather than a lager. As such Big Smoke is sure to satisfy beer and whisky fans alike.

• Little Creatures Pale Ale (5.2 per cent) Australia: besides having a name that would be great for a punk rock band Little Creatures brew one of the world’s best pale ales. But there’s a twist — they use hop additions from both sides of the equator probably to balance out the opposite global effects — like a great piece of music this beer has plenty of treble (hops) and huge amounts of bass (malt backbone). Plus even though it’s relatively low in alcohol content it’s loud in volume.