You came in like a Cannon Ball
Thursday, 14 September 2017 12:55

It is just over a week until the 2017 General Election in New Zealand. To say this campaign has been a rollercoaster is to deeply misunderestimate rollercoasters. It has been more akin to Richard Hammond trying to parallel park a rocket car while high on LSD. Let’s recap for those who have not been following events as closely as this political tragic 

The hugely popular Prime Minister John Key, seemingly assured of a record fourth term in office, dramatically resigned and left Parliament. Literally no one saw this move coming.

My old boss Bill English assumed leadership of the ruling National Party and the role of Prime Minister. Mr English was last in charge when National received a record low 20.93% of the vote in 2002. In his defence, he had a terrible speechwriter. [1]

Labour leader Andrew Little stepped aside in August due to consistently poor poll ratings. He was replaced by young Auckland MP Jacinda Ardern who immediately boosted Labour’s popularity. This has become known as the “Jacinda Effect”.

Labour ranked above National in a poll for the first time in a decade. There was much rejoicing on the left.

The next poll, days later showed National 10% ahead of Labour. There was much vindication on the right.

Everyone else remained confused by the polls.

Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turia relinquished the co-leadership after it was revealed she collected benefits she was not entitled to. The benefit fraud occurred over three years in the 1990s and there are also questions about her electoral enrolment status as well. She will not stand on the list and will have to win the Te Tai Tonga seat to return to Parliament. This is considered highly unlikely.

Two Green MPs – David Clendon and Kennedy Graham – resigned as Green MPs because of the handling of the benefit fraud controversy. They were going to be deselected by the party in all likelihood as the Greens have staunchly stood behind Ms Turia. There has been no apology.

United Future leader Peter Dunne has been the Member of Parliament for Ohariu (and its predecessors) since 1984. He was the first person I ever voted for and my hairstyle, on occasions, has been likened to his famous “flock of seagulls” do. However, I do not wear bowties. Mr Dunne unexpectedly retired in August saying he realised that he would not win his seat. The United Future party is expected to fold with his departure.

However, my favourite election story is that of the “Young Nats”. Billboards popped up – purporting to be from the Young National Party – with messages such as “Putting the ‘our’ in Aotearoa”, “Maybe it is your fault” and “Everything is fine”. Social media pundits were quick to attack the National Party for such insensitive messaging. National in turn was perplexed, pointing out that the guy on the billboards was not a candidate and that they were not National Party advertisements at all. At least one former MP accused the Labour Party of dirty tricks.

Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. The billboards were put up by a professional wrestling company – Impact Pro Wrestling (IPW or I P Dub to hardcore fans like me). They have a “stable” (group) of “heels” (bad guys) who advocate right wing policies to the largely working class audience in order to get “heat” (booed out of the building). [2]

The company has an event on election night where fans get to vote for the matches and the match stipulations. They never expected the billboards to be taken seriously as they were so obviously fake. “Mr Burns”, the star of the billboards, said “We were quite surprised that a few people took them seriously, but it just went nuts. The “Putting the ‘Our’ in Aotearoa” in one in particular. I think most people still get the satire of it, but there was definitely a minority that took it as a legitimate billboard. It was certainly never our intent to have any of the billboards be taken seriously. I was surprised, I just thought it was so absurd that anyone could think National would ever actually use that slogan.”

An election this erratic and unpredictable needs beer and Malthouse has put together an erratic and unpredictable beer list this week. Some of these beers are seriously weird. Here we go.

Magic Rock Brewery has featured at Malthouse before. They are a small but growing brewery located in the cultural capital of Huddersfield, United Kingdom. In 2011 they took an unforgiveable six months before winning 2nd Best New Brewery in the World at the influential and unforgiving RateBeer website.

Their new beer is Magic Rock Cannon Ball (7.4%) which is unashamedly a traditional India Pale Ale (IPA). The brewers themselves even describe it as a “hop bomb.” It is undoubtedly strong and hoppy, with notes of grapefruit, grass and pine over a crunchy caramel skeleton. Experts would describe this slightly hazy libation as “dangerously drinkable”. I adore this beer.

The same cannot be said for the next brew which is a Mexican pineapple soft drink turned sour beer. I kid you not – that is exactly how Wild Beer describes their Te Peche (6%) ale. Basically, they took a fermented pineapple soft drink popular on the streets of Tijuana and made it spicy and alcoholic. This includes the use of maize, all the bits of a pineapple, Demerara sugar, cinnamon, star anise and Brettanomyces yeast. [3] The result is a tart, zesty brew with a clash of sweet fruit and dry spice in the glass.

I swear that Ciaran the sly, artful and foxy Malthouse unit Manager is taunting me even more than usual because the next beer I have to write about is a Gose – a traditional sour and salty beer. This is reportedly the oldest Gose still in production having first been brewed way back in 1824.

The use of coriander, salt, wild yeast and open fermentation produced Ritterguts Gose (4.7%). A hazy pale yellow ale, this Gose has notes of salt, spice and sour lemon. It is considered extremely refreshing by fans.

Also available is the classic Duchesse de Bourgogne (6%), a sour Flanders Red Ale with notes of wood, fruit, tart and candy. From Colorado (USA) there is Crooked Stave Rose Sour (5%), a sour wild ale showcasing berries, oak, sourness and rose petals. Scottish brewery Tempest provides the Tempest In the Dark We Live – Dark Fruits Edit (9%). This is a strong Black IPA with added black currants, blackberries and black raspberries. It is still hoppy, fruity and bitter, but this beer is blacker than Mark Richardson’s tiny, dark heart.

The election may be hard to predict but the Hopinator is easy to read. It does not have any hops in it – again. This week it is Bad Shepherd Bigsi's Baltic Porter (8.1%) with dark, dank berries. From Melbourne, home of the great man Bill Lawry, this beer pushes the style boat out with notes of liquorice, aniseed and coffee before the late berry crush. [4]

Next time, we drink to we drink to David Cryer's hair. All humanity should toast the finest mane in world brewing. [5]

[1] It was me.

[2] Disclaimer: I own several IPW DVDs.

[3] Basically, my beer hell.

[4] Glass Tip – Rusev.

[5] I am determined to get this phrase trending globally.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

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