A bitter taste in one’s mouth is not always a bad thing. Rather, it can be extremely pleasant – given it’s preceded by a full-bodied hop nose, hints of passionfruit, lychee and a cloudy malt swirl.

Yup, it was the most accomplished beer to ever grace a glass in this country – and most importantly, brewed right here in Hastings.

I’m talking about Hopsmacker: the signature beer that once flowed from a once local brewery -Limburg Breweries, (now Limburg Beer Company).

Now, leaving aside the spin that it’s business as usual for the changed operation, to any casual drinker, it’s apparent there was a shareholder stoush of some note, and a nasty implosion.

Part of the fallout, the former brewery’s founder brewer, beer druid and all round good guy Chris O’Leary (pictured) was left with no option but to leave with his hydrometer between his legs. Yet it doesn’t end there. Hastings didn’t just lose bragging rights to the best brewer in the country – we also lost the beer. The flagship Hopsmacker ale – and all other labels in the stable – are now 100 percent Auckland brewed.

BayBuzz think this ironic, considering Hastings water won second place in the 2007 Great New Zealand Water Tasting Competition.

Have Limburg directors forgotten Hastings established its first brewery in 1881. . . 14 years before the district’s first winery? And that Hawke’s Bay beer connoisseurs are as provenance proud as its wine drinkers?

Chris, the Bay wants you back. Come put the heart back into hop country.

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