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Painkiller, Antibrewery

Dunedin brewer’s creation packs the fruity punch of a cocktail. | Local craft beer of the week

Since its inception, Dunedin’s Antibrewery has gleefully bucked conventional wisdom on how to run a brewery and tasting room, with a descriptionless menu of oddly-named brews, a purposefully unfinished tasting room, scant hours of operation and, of course, an ever-rotating lineup of beers rarely brewed to style.

The latest envelope pushing comes by way of Painkiller, an absolutely massive brew designed to mimic the look and taste of the iconic tiki cocktail from which it takes its name.

If you’re a tiki drink aficionado, you’ll know this one: rum, pineapple, orange, coconut and nutmeg. It’s a sweet, tart, coconutty booze vehicle that works the way most tiki cocktails do: quickly and deliciously.

Antibrewery’s riff subs a golden barleywine for Caribbean rum, but the flavor additives remain the same. If the beer’s strong pineapple aroma didn’t give it away, then surely the oily sheen from the cream of coconut that coats bubbles coming to the surface will.

This beer is hardly a technical masterpiece — traditional brewers will surely wince at the fat content of this brew — but in terms of delivering as promised, this is an absolute success. All of the flavors are there, from the sweet-sour pineapple notes to the warming nutmeg finish. It’s a cohesive brew, in spite of the seemingly odd combo of a barleywine and tiki cocktail mixers.

True to form, this drink clocks in at 13 percent alcohol by volume, making it legitimately comparable to the rum-based classic. And also like the original, this one is smooth enough to be downright dangerous.

Try it for yourself, along with the current selection of off-kilter Antibrewery beers at the Dunedin tasting room. It’s open Saturday–Monday only, so plan accordingly.

— Justin Grant

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