The Lions are not coming, they are here...
Thursday, 29 June 2017 16:07

On Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending the British and Irish Lions match live at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium. The crowd was loud and largely happy as the gallant men in red shirts fought for a right honourable draw – 31-31.

I bet the TAB was happy with that result as about two people in the whole world would have picked a draw. [1] As well as being a rip-snorting game, the score worked for me on a personal level. It was the first live rugby match with my lovely partner, and, potentially awkwardly, we were supporting different teams.

This was evident to all as she was wearing an All Black jersey, Hurricanes black and yellow face paint and a black Rocky Knob beanie. In contrast, I was sporting a Lions shirt, a Scottish flag as a cape and bright blue face paint in the classic style of Braveheart. For some reason, I also put blue paint in my hair - reminiscent of Kevin Pieterson’s infamous “badger stripe” haircut in his early days. I am still finding bits of blue paint everywhere days later... but it was totally worth it.

The match was great, truly a game of two halves. What really added to the occasion was the atmosphere and crowd reactions. There were swathes of red, sections of yellow and black, lots of flags (most people chose to wave rather than wear theirs) and genuine noise.

New Zealand fans are, by and large, pretty quiet compared to other nations. Lions fans are, by and large, the complete opposite – singing and chanting even when their team is losing. Maybe a third of the ground was supporting red but at times they were far louder than the local majority. To their credit, the Hurricanes supporters (with some not so subtle help and prompting from the ground announcer) rose to the occasion and the result was one of the three noisiest sports events I have attended in New Zealand.

There is no coincidence that all three were Lions matches – the fabled 20-7 Lions upset win at Athletic Park, Dan Carter’s “perfect game” at Westpac Stadium, and now the “the draw to end them all” in Wellington. Let’s face facts, Lions supporters are just lots of fun,

However, Lions supporters are not coming to Wellington. They are already here. Check out the dress code on Lambton Quay and Courtenay Place. It is going to be a huge weekend.

Not everyone has tickets, [2] so Malthouse is playing its part. They have shut down Courtenay Place and extended their licence area. [3] Courtenay Place will be shut from Cambridge Terrace to Taranaki Street starting at 5am Saturday and running through to 7am Sunday. This will allow Malthouse to operate on the road which will allow, to use Ciaran the Unit Manager’s intriguing phrase, “more room for activities.” These include – but are not limited to - DJ Don Luchito from Radio Active playing on Saturday from 10pm.

It is going to be a great day. I’m certainly going to be chanting at the screen with a craft beer in hand. The one let down at the Hurricanes game was the beer. I do not to this day know what it was. The menu simply said “beer”, you ordered “beer” and were then served “beer”. On the other hand, a real highlight was the fan with the Scottish flag as a cape standing up after the Canes kicked the two-pointer after their first try and proclaiming in a loud clear voice – “you may kick your conversions but you will never take our... FREEEEDOM!” [4]

Rugby is a team game and, in that spirit, Malthouse has teamed up with local brewers ParrotDog this week. ParrotDog will provide the house Pale Ale, Pilsner and IPA – a rare honour it must be noted. On Saturday ParrotDog Flora Rata (7.7%) will be on tap. Rata is the new-ish brand for the old and much beloved ParrotDog Bloody Dingo. [5] It a robust Australian Red Ale with lashings of US hops over a solid caramel malt infrastructure.


Also on Saturday there will be a range of British beers on tap. I have my tasting notes for some (but not many) of these beers, some of which are on tap at Malty for the first time. Here is the list:


Magic Rock Dancing Bear (4.5%) – Pilsner (England)

Thornbridge Chiron (5%) – “One of the best examples of modern English golden ales, Chiron has subtle but still spicy citrus hops, a strong pale malt backbone and a tart fruity finish.” (England)

Thornbridge Halcyon (7.7%) – Very good IPA with a New Zealand connection. (England)

Thornbridge Huck (7.4%) – American hopped Double IPA. (England)

Tiny Rebel AK47 (4.7%) – A very rare rye, strawberry, lemon and mint “enhanced” Kvass beer. (Wales) [6]

Tiny Rebel Cali (5.6%) – Highly rated American Pale Ale. (Wales)

Tiny Rebel In And Around The Mouth (6%) – Another IPA, more American hops. (Wales)

Tiny Rebel Stay Puft (5.2%) – Marshmallow Stout and a sweet Ghostbusters reference. (Wales)

Tiny Rebel Super Saison (7.4%) – A very strong Saison pumped up by the power of kaffir lime leaf and lemon verbena. (Wales)

Tempest Alligator Man (9.2%) – It is an Imperial IPA, it is over 9%, and it is called Alligator Man. Of course I am buying this. Oh, and it is Scottish! (Scotland)

Tempest In The Dark We Live - Dark Fruits Edit – (9%) Black IPA with added blackcurrants, blackberries, and black raspberries. It is quite black apparently. (Scotland)
Tempest Marmalade On Rye (9%) – Double IPA with orange and ginger. Neither ingredient is deep fried. (Scotland)

Magners Cider is also on tap if you are into that sort of thing.


Next time, we drink to the British and Irish Lions ahead of the second test against the All Blacks in Wellington this weekend. It is worth noting that, statistically speaking, the Lions are undefeated at Westpac Stadium on this tour.


[1] Probably by accident.

[2] I certainly do not. Just putting that out there...

[3] Admittedly, the Wellington City Council may have closed the road and allowed the extended licence area. Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Malthouse Proprietor is powerful but not that powerful (yet).

[4] Disclaimer – Of course it was me.

[5] I personally loved the BloodyDingo name but can see as the brewery gets bigger, more serious (and exports to Australia) that it had to change.

[6] AK 47 – 4.7% alcohol. I see what you did there Tiny Rebel.


Cheers


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine


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