The big worry was they would leak earlier on Twitter.  The good news is that they did not leak.  The not-so-good news is that there were no results to leak. 

Here is what happened.  Having a public vote to determine the winner between Epic Armageddon and Hallertau Maximus Humulus Lupulus on the night was the brainchild of Colin Mallon, increasingly well-known as the Handsome Yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor.  He wanted a system that was simple yet difficult to manipulate by nefarious punters or brewers.

His answer came from antiquity – Ancient Greece and Rome to be precise.  There, voting was once conducted through a simple method whereby eligible voters – generally old rich dudes – would place a pebble into a vase signifying their favoured candidate.  The intention at the Challenge was to give each attendee two marbles.  They could then cast two votes for their favourite brew, split their votes if the beers were equal, vote for one and abstain on the other * or simply walk away with two free marbles.

This tried and tested voting system was deliberately kept secret so that someone – who may or may not be called Luke Nicholas – didn’t turn up with a sack of marbles to rig the ballot in favour of one beer – which may or may not be called Epic Armageddon.  Unfortunately, the marble/vase method historically relied on thoughtful chaps in togas queuing up in an orderly fashion and casting their considered ballots.  Thoughtful, orderly, considered – these are words which are rarely used to describe the conflux of West Coast IPAs, air guitar and the All Blacks pummelling the Boks for a second week running.

Put simply, “The marbles did not work.”  The elections were called off and both sides immediately declared themselves the clear winner.  While some were disappointed, others found positives in the outcome.  Frank Bainimarama, self-employed of Fiji, described the process as “an outstanding example of how the democratic process should operate.  I learned a lot.”  Robert Mugabe, lifestyle consultant of Zimbabwe, said he was “impressed at the amount of power this Mr Mallon has amassed while still retaining the admiration of his people.”

So, the bottom line is that hops were indeed the winner on the day. **

In an earlier decree, Colin had declared July to be Pale Ale month and even a cursory look at the tap beer list would back him up.  Long time Malthouse stalwart Tuatara IPA was joined by brash American cousin Tuatara APA.  Sales were strong and rumours are that a second batch is underway with a few tweaks, bells and whistles.

The Yeastie Boys decided to (rightly) pander to the hopheads with their twin release of the Monsters.  These two beers are identical apart from a different hop blend.  Yakima Monster was on first and used a potent cocktail of American hops.  Motueka Monster, by way of direct contrast, subsequently showcased a subtle yet strong mix of local hops.

Both Challenge beers are still on (while stocks last) for people to make their own assessments.  Epic Pale Ale continues to pour freely even with competition from around the country and around the world.  In July, Malthouse got its first taste of the delicious ales from Bridge Road in Victoria – Bling India Pale Ale and Beechworth Pale Ale.  They are both gone now but early signs are this won’t be last time we see these tasty libations on tap.

The impeccable source that is Facebook *** indicates that a new batch of Hopwired is nearing completion.  Attentive readers will recall that this beer from newcomer 8Wired Brewing in Blenheim debuted at number two on my top ten beer list in 2009.  It is fair to say that its return is rather anticipated.  At the moment, there is no intention to announce its arrival on this blog because that would just encourage people to turn up and drink it, leaving less for me.  However, this decision is expected to be over-turned.

On tap now is a beer which has a more than decent chance of cracking the list for 2010 – Summ!t IIPA from Liberty Brewing.  No, that is not a typo, it really does use an exclamation mark in the name.  Summ!t is the creation of multi-award winning home brewer Jo Wood.  He took a home brew hit and brewed it in commercial quantities at Hallertau recently.  I first tried this beer – appropriately enough – at Jo’s house.  I took a sip and closed my eyes.  “How is it?” he asked somewhat apprehensively.  Picking my words carefully I replied “It is one of the single tastiest beers I have tasted this year.  It is delicious.” 

It truly is.  Brewed in the style of an American-inspired Imperial IPA, it showcases the clean, assertive properties of a dwarf US hop called Summit.  The result is a big beer, lashings of fresh fruit and acres of bitterness, but the marvellous balance provides a high level of drinkability.  I would proclaim it “delightfully quaffable.”  Even though I know every sip taken by someone else means a sip less for me, I would recommend this beer without hesitation.

* These people tend to be voting system anoraks who genuinely believe Single Transferable Vote is easy to understand
** As unerringly predicted last week by Hallertau’s own oracle octopus, brewer Stephen Plowman
*** Up to 8% more accurate than Wikipedia.


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine


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