|And I for one welcome our Hopstock overlords...|
|Wednesday, 12 April 2017 18:51|
The Craft Beer Capital (CBC) people are wonderful. Every year they organise Hopstock, a Wellington-wide celebration of sticky, green hopped, resinous and, frankly, sensual fresh hopped beers simply to honour my birthday.
Of course, that outlandish claim would only be true provided it was not an enormous coincidence in timing. I just happened to be born on the mean streets of Broxburn, Scotland  at roughly the same time of the year that, some several decades later, beer made with freshly plucked New Zealand hops would be ready for consumption in Aotearoa.
So yes, it is a complete coincidence - but a delicious one which is going to make for a busy week for me and many other hop heads in the Craft Beer Capital of New Zealand. Starting on 19 April 2017 Malthouse will be pouring Emerson’s Fresher (5.8%), a new green hopped Pilsner made with the first Nelson Sauvin hops of the season. I do not expect it to last very long.
Our sister bar, Fork & Brewer, will be serving Cone In The Bavarian (5%), a rare fresh hopped dark lager (Schwarzbier). The full list of participating bars and breweries – and there are over 20 of them – is available from the Hopstock link at the bottom of this blog. As an unreconstructed hop fiend, I also like the sound of the 9.4% Panhead Hop Fuel and the ever lovely 8Wired Fresh Hopwired (7.3%). As I said, it is going to be a really busy week.
In addition to the new beer, Malthouse will be hosting two exclusive Emerson's Beer, Spirit and Cheese Tasting Evenings. On Wednesday 19 April 2017 at 6:30pm there will be a Beer, Whisky and Cheese Pairing. The next day, Thursday 20 April again at 6:30pm, there will be a Beer, Gin and Cheese Pairing, also in the spartan but sexy Malthouse lounge. Both nights will be hosted by Richard Emerson Esq, founder/brewer/guru of Emerson's Brewery, and Mister Greg Menzies, Emerson's Marketing Guy.
Now, in the last blog I warned that spots were limited and selling fast. For once, this was not marketing hype. The whisky event is sold out and the gin event has just a few tickets left. I know because I booked 10% of the gin spots.  Two years ago, I would have looked askew at a beer and gin tasting. This time, it was my preference out of the two. New worlds have opened up to me. I now also presume that it goes without saying that beer and cheese is a fantastic gastronomic combination. That concept was a hard sell there for a while...
To accompany the arrival of Richard Emerson - the Chuck Norris of craft brewing, the Donald Trump of Dunedin and Ordained Seventh-Level Master of Belgian Yeast - there will be three rare Emerson’s beers on tap at Malthouse next week. They are:
Emerson’s Mannin (8.5%) – A Belgian Tripel-style brewed with boysenberries and vanilla. It is pretty much my idea of beer hell so I expect it to be exceedingly popular and critically acclaimed.
Emerson’s Baltic Porter (6.7%) – So, you think Emerson’s London Porter is good? Well, you are correct. However, many dark beer aficionados argue this is even better. There is a bock yeast in there because otherwise brewing would be too easy at Emerson’s.
Emerson’s Tally Ho (5.4%) – Basically, this is the big brother of Bookbinder (Booky to its friends). A malty, spicy and balanced Bitter. As English as Stephen Fry singing God Save the Queen while kicking Jeremy Clarkson in the groin. 
This week there are some other new additions to the tap range:
ParrotDog Kowhai (7.9%) – It is a Double IPA. I have had it. I love it.
Liberty The Alternative Fact (5.2%) – Only a matter of time before the now-infamous Trumpism “Alternative Fact” appeared in a beer name, and no surprise that it was well-known subversive, rabble rouser and scruffy looking nerf herder Joseph Wood from Liberty Brewery that made it happen. I predict this brew is going to be “Yuge”.
Bach Brewing Whitsunday (5.6%) – That awkward moment when you start to change your mind about White IPAs which you have railed against since they were made up in a marketing department a year and a half ago... This is a tasty beer.
Moa Russian Imperial Stout (10.2%) – Aged in French Oak barrels and around 100 IBUs, it is time to acknowledge that Moa – objectively – make some very fine beers. This may well be the best of them. This is a beer that calls for blue cheese, leather armchairs and plotting to bring down the elected government. That is how I would best enjoy it, at least. 
This weekend is Easter which does not mean much to the self-employed among us, except that pubs will be shut when we are thirsty. Here are the Malthouse opening hours followed by a brief but intense rant:
Thursday 13 April - last call 11.15pm
Friday 14 April - closed
Saturday 15 April - last call 11.15pm
Sunday 16 April - closed
Monday 17 April - open from midday
Tuesday 18 April – Neil’s birthday so buy him lots of beers.
Wellington hospitality venues will have to endure the existing Easter trading hours restrictions because the Wellington City Council has apparently been so busy that they could not even begin to consider an issue that was (wrongly in my view) passed to Councils by the Government in August last year. 
Trina Snow, Executive Director of NARGON (the National Association of Retail Grocers representing supermarket and convenience stores) summed up the issue nicely when she wrote:
“That legislation gives local authorities the authority to choose whether shops in their area should be allowed to open on Easter Sunday. Furthermore, every council can designate different trading laws for specific areas within their territory. Minister Woodhouse said this is a “pragmatic solution.” Leading the Opposition in Parliament, Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway described it as a “ridiculous patchwork approach.”
Lees-Galloway is absolutely correct. He is also correct that it will create “a mishmash of rules and regulations across the country”, that trading laws are “not local government’s responsibility” and that “every single territorial authority in New Zealand is now going to have to go through a full consultation process, spending millions in the process.” 
We have reached the ridiculous situation where most of the major cities have not only not liberalised Easter trading hours, they have not even considered them. “A ridiculous patchwork” may be an over generous assessment of the current situation.
Next time, we drink to Sonny Bill Williams who only this week realised that the B in the BNZ logo on his rugby jersey that he has taken vast sums of money to wear for over five years actually stood for “Bank”.
 I joke about the “mean streets of Thorndon.” I am not joking about the “mean streets of Broxburn.”
 That was two places, so perhaps not as extravagant as I made it sound.
 This event would be hugely popular.
 I have a strong record in bringing down elected governments. When I worked for National they went from 45% to 22%, and then straight back up to 48% when I left. I really wish it was not that obvious...
 This is a personal rant and not official Malthouse policy.
 Disclaimer – I have worked for NARGON in the past as an editor.
Beer and Brewer Magazine
Emerson’s Beer, Spirits and Cheese Tasting Nights – https://www.facebook.com/events/427085590973380/
Hopstock - http://craftbeercapital.com/hopstock/about
Malthouse Facebook - www.facebook.com/pages/Malthouse/7084276173
Malthouse Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/malthouse
Malthouse Taps on Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/MalthouseTaps
Neil Miller on Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/#!/beerlytweeting