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Beer – #243 – Garage Project – La Calavera Catrina

The 2nd of the day of the dead beers, this one the Garage Project La Calavera Catrina. Brewed by Garage Project This one also in the Style of a  Spice/Herb/Vegetable and of course from windy Wellington, New Zealand.

The brewer says “Blonde Lager”. but they could be making that style up and mean plain old Lager of course.  650ml bottle of a 6.9% ABV beer, in NZ being 3.54 standard drink units.

Garage Project - La Calavera CatrinaLa Catrina is as blonde as Day of the Dead is dark, but she’s no lightweight. The base beer is a blonde lager with a cheeky, even ironic addition of maize. Maize is an ingredient you’d normally associate with much blander lager offerings, but here it is fired up with a generous addition of organic Habanero chillis, giving Calevera a far more assertive chilli heat than the smoky chipotle of her brother. To this blonde chilli base went an addition of rose water and watermelon. The result is a complex and surprising beer we think can stand proudly beside the Day of the Dead. Cheeky, ironic, complex and firey – what more could you want in the Lady of Death? We hope you’ll give her a warm welcome.

Aroma perhaps of sour fruit on opening. Pours orange golden with a fair fluffy head, which is two in a row, on a roll here!!!

2013-11-22 18.38.48Firstly there is something nice, like watermelon, but it’s a ruse because there is a rabbit punch of chilli that fair assaults you.  Made my eyes pucker.

Yes this is as pale as the other is dark. This has a front taste that the other didn’t, but this is far and away more chilli bite than you’d expect, or perhaps is warranted.

It’s more a pepper than than a chilli though, and it’s that harsh and blunt that it has to be a bit of a ‘have’. I don’t doubt that making a chill beer is a challenge, but this sort of isn’t that, it seems like a beer that they tipped some chilli as an addition after the fact rather than as a balanced part of a project or end goal.

Garage Project seem to be aggressively brewing different beers in an almost endless procession,  you would hope that they’d stop and think, or get some feedback from a focus group. Not that they’re failing but you can wander down a pathway that might take a while to get back from. Sure they’ve had a few hits and misses but they tend to be close or near to the mark.

I can’t see though how this beer fits with anything. It’s not a beer to accompany anything, it’s a bit overwhelming on the palate tanging everything up, it’s not a session beer,  frankly it’s a bit of a challenge (I was told it was easier drinking, it isn’t),  and it’s not something that I would let a friend drink, except perhaps as a prank. Which means for the pdubyah-o-meter that this is struggling to find a home. I want to say 6 – average, it has great colour, great aroma but it’s just not pleasing.  Six it is making just above average, but that might be taking into account the nice things about it. of which the chilli smash isn’t one of them.

So if the random score isn’t about the chilli what is it about? I’m going to cower and say it looks great, pours great, has a head, and the aroma was pleasant. The chilli is “as advertised” and so therefore this is what it is. You might like it.

Probably won’t.


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