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Beer – #1035 – Panhead – Le Grande Zombi

Panhead Le Grande Zombi, or Li Grande Zombi  –  A Barleywine. Don’t see them for ages then you see them all over the place, it seems.

Beware of the charms

This is a 500ml bottle of a beer that is 11% ABV, 60 IBU things and that’s around 330 calories a serve. This would be 4.3 standard drinks in NZ.

Panhead Le Grande Zombi is brewed in the style that is a  Barley Wine/Wheat Wine Brewed by Panhead Custom Ales (Lion Co. – Kirin Holdings), who are in Upper Hutt, New Zealand

Zombi Zombie

Big Barleywine with exotic spices such as Star Anise and Cardamon.

Beware of the charms of Le Grande Zombi

So, What could possibly go wrong? Well its been a while since Panhead came up on my radar, from around that time they were taken over by the Kirin people possibly, I remember their pop up bar in the Viaduct as being a bit of a dump.

There’s rather a spicy aroma on opening, I’d say cloves but it’s more cardamon that’s a little less common as an aroma to my nose. (Don’t ask where I hand around cloves, it’s a memory aroma)

It’s a lovely deep but bright brown pour, and it settles forlorn without head in the glass.

The aroma in the glass is more like a liquorice thing, certainly leaning towards aniseed.

Wow there’s a to going on all at once, a at the front. A Mountain of sweet maltiness and a clamour of tastes immediate and urgent, as well as a warmth.  I don’t know how to rewind or stop and take stock of that.

Despite it being nothing at a like what you might thing is a Barleywine by style this is quite compelling really.

It warms in the glass, because I’m prudent and this isn’t quaffing beer, and it becomes more mellow and full into itself, but it never gains any real body, nor does it ever, to my mind, become what you might think is a traditional barley wine, there’s just too much of that aniseed really.

This doesn’t make it a bad drink, far from it, this is really nice, and for a heavy beer, or a beer in this style it sets it apart and becomes memorable, sometimes this happens for the right reason, and sometimes not. I think I’d look this out again and get another as it is compelling enough to want to give it a second shot. And because I like black liquorice.

The pdubyah-o-meter rates this as 8 of its things from the thing. Quirky and off centre this is unusually compelling and quite enjoyable, its not the prettiest of beers the head when you finally get one on the second pour, looks a bit our of pace too, far to white. The Aroma cardamom, the taste aniseed. There’s that lovely warmth too. Stranger things indeed.

The double dip review

  • Where did I get it? My local Liquorland had some, I’m sure they’re around.
  • Am I enjoying it? Yes I surprisingly am
  • Would I have another? Yes I will get me another, which is really really unusual for me
  • Would I share with a friend on a porch and set the world to rights? I think that I would, if you ‘know’ barleywines then this is going to make you frown, and the aroma and taste combo along with that huge sweet maltiness make this really a different journey on a different part. Ideal really.

Music for this:  Designer by Aldous Harding on the Spotify player, of course.

Hannah Harding, known professionally as Aldous Harding, is a New Zealand folk singer-songwriter.


A Barley Wine is a strong, top-fermenting ale, with an alcohol contents of at least 9% and up to 13% (or more) by volume. Hops may be hardly noticeable at all or very noticeable. Sip them out of the special glass, that will concentrate the aroma. They are excellent with cigars or with dessert.


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