Renaissance Brewing Company was founded in Marlborough in 2005, and has got to become one of the most established craft breweries in New Zealand.
Run by California-born Andy Deuchars and Brian Thiel, the brewery produces a range of brews that are very respected locally (and beyond), from dark Porters and Oatmeal Stout to lighter English Pale Ale or Pilsner.
The Voyager IPA we are tasting today has now become one of their most popular products.
Originally brewed as a one-off beer, it has known such a success that it is now classic of many craft beer retailers and bars around New Zealand. Worth a try!
The beer is brewed with pale ale malt from Canterbury (in the center of NZ South Island), and small additions of European specialty malts. This provides the base on which to build its hop edifice.
The beer is then hopped with two Kiwi hop varieties for bitterness, then finished with Fuggles (a cornerstone for English brewing during the late 1800’s when ‘IPA style’ was created) and New Zealand bred Riwaka hops which offers a spicy yet floral finish.
So what is this beer worth? The answer is in the tasting notes:
First, let’s note that it has a lovely label: colorful and appealing. The bottle is heavy and well crafted bottle. This starts the Renaissance experience.
Nose: fresh hops strike first, followed by intense citrusy and lemony aromas. Exotic fruit characters as well: dried pineapple. These fruit flavors are coated in subtle layers of honey and blond-caramel. Agitation reveals the esters, fragrant pear and pear liqueur notes, and a touch of reductive character (cabbage) that disappears after a while. Overall a fresh and grassy hoppy nose, with hips of blossoms (orange in particular) and exotic fruits. Complex.
Palate: The evolution of the palate is almost reverse from the nose’s. First palate very much on yeasty flavors: cabbage again. Then the citrus notes kick in strongly on the middle palate. The finish is dominated by hops and grass. There’s a pronounced bitterness on the finish. This batch would have been slightly reductive, as added to the cabbage, is a metallic character in the mouth on the finish. But this fades out in the glass as the beer opens up. Leave the beer breathe up a bit before drinking it if you can hold off!! You’ll get more complexity and varied layers of flavors out of it after a little resting time.
The beer is medium-bodied, and counts with a good balance between weight and freshness. It’s weighty enough to give a good textural mouth feel, still watery enough to be enjoyable to drink. Quite refreshing overall as IPAs can be. The strong bitterness on the finish makes you salivate after swallowing, and want to go back for another taste of the lemony freshness again.
Overall, a richly-flavoured IPA, not overly weighty or flavorsome, but zingy. Enjoyable for tasting seriously, as well as for drinking refreshingly.
As a bonus, here is a video ffrom the Renaissance Brewing Company about their Voyager IPA, with Andy Deuchars: