New Zealand speciality brewer McCashin's is launching a wine-tasting beer. The new beer, called AroMac, is designed to appeal to people looking for a new beer-drinking experience. McCashin's, founded by former rugby international Terry McCashin, produces limited brews from designer hops.

AroMac has been brewed using a new hop called Nelson Sauvin, which has been in development for 15 years. "The new hop brings a highly aromatic sauvignon blanc character to the pilsner lager. Gooseberries, passionfruit and an earthy grassiness create a refreshing lager experience," says McCashin.

The hop was developed by scientist Dr. Ron Beatson at Hort Research. Beatson says only 15 hop cultivars have been produced in the last 40 years so Nelson Sauvin is a major step in new brewing opportunities. McCashin's will produce 100,000 litres of AroMac, which will sell for NZ$9.95 (about US$20) for a four-pack. Initial sales will be in New Zealand but Lion Nathan, which is providing marketing backup for AroMac, is keen to sell the Nelson Sauvin hop in other countries.

McCashin's head brewer Tracey Banner told just-drinks.com: "The beer's character comes from the new hop and it is a drink that is not just for women. It is for everyone, especially the beer connoisseur. We didn't
want a bitter so we have gone for hopiness so it is very smooth and very moorish.

According to just-drinks' speciality beer tasters, AroMac is indeed smooth and rich in hops. The initial taste is all hops but the after-taste, at the top of the palette, is definitely sauvignon blanc. The combination is not unattractive but is certainly surprising given the faces on our testers.

David Robertson
just-drinks.com Asia-Pacific correspondent