Brewers and judges are popping up in bars all over the city – sometimes to give scheduled talks or launch new products, at other times just to mingle, try a few beers and maybe play a little air guitar. 

Happy beer fans clutching Beervana passports are an increasingly common sight on Wellington streets.  To get the stamp at Malthouse, participants simply need to order a Tuatara APA (which is basically something they should do anyway.)  In the last ten days, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of Malthouse punters wearing beer-themed t-shirts and thrusting foaming glasses of ale at each other saying “try this one, sir!”  **

New Zealand’s biggest beer festival, Beervana, kicks off today and there will be four sessions (Friday 12-4, Friday 5-9, Saturday 12-4, Saturday 5-9).  Malthouse will be one of the more than forty five stalls which will be serving nearly two hundred different beers all up.  While the majority of the offerings will be from domestic producers, the Malthouse stand, which is much larger and better located than last year, has taken a quite international approach. 

Here is a quick run-down on half the Malthouse beer list on offer at Beervana:

Stone and Wood Draught (AUS) – This beer will be on tap and award-winning brewer and general man-about-town Brad Rogers will be popping in from time to time to chat about it and maybe pour a few glasses.  This distinctive beer is unpasteurised, unfiltered and presents some big fruity hops (including a rare pineapple note), a bit of yeast and a refreshing finish. 

Like all the brewers “volunteering” at the Malthouse stand over Beervana, Brad will be wearing the commemorative t-shirt which simply reads ‘Celebrity Staff’ on the front and ‘Property of Colin Mallon’ on the back.

Thornbridge Jaipur (UK) – Our friends at Thornbridge describe Jaipur as “A citrus dominated India Pale Ale, its immediate impression is soft and smooth yet builds to a crescendo of massive hoppiness *** accentuated by honey.  An enduring, bitter finish.”  Having previously snaffled a sample, I’d have to concur and can easily see why this did so well at the recent British beer awards (Champion Strong Bitter 2010).

Thornbridge Halcyon (UK) – This beer got the Impish Treatment last year when Epic’s Luke Nicholas visited the picturesque Thornbridge brewery to produce the collaboration Epic Halcyon.  The brewery characterises this Imperial India Pale Ale as “Rich fruit and hop character in aroma.  Chewy, juicy malts and intense hoppiness coming through in mouth with a hint of tangerine and pear drops.  Ends with a well-balanced bitterness.”  There are tribes in the Amazon who are unsurprised I liked this beer as much as I did.

Thornbridge Saint Petersburg (UK) – The Thornbridge brewers clearly like their beers strong as this is another in the Imperial style.  This time it is an Imperial Russian Stout which they describe as “Rich and dark with smoke, subtle peatiness and the power of the dark malts. Molasses and liquorice and chocolate goodness all wrapped up in a smooth, warming liquid.  Finishes with a distinct humming bitterness carried well by the hop and malt combo.”  Martin Bosley and I will be using this beer at two of our beer and food matching sessions with the chef particularly taken by the Saint’s sticky date tart character.

Malthouse Stingo (NZ) – Stingo will be one of the three local offerings at the Malthouse stand in 2010.  As readers of this blog will know, the Malthouse’s first ‘house beer’ was designed by proprietor Colin Mallon and brewed by the erstwhile Invercargill Brewery.  It’s a malt-driven little number based on the old Scottish 80 shilling style.

Coopers Sparkling Ale (AUS) – As the first bar in the country to have tap Coopers, it seems entirely appropriate that the quenching Sparkling Ale will be pouring at the Malthouse stand.  It’s a world classic beer for a reason and if you enjoyed it in the bottle, you will love it on draught.

Coopers Vintage Ale 2009 (AUS) – it is not common to see this iconic Aussie offering on tap but Beervana is a welcome chance to do so.  The brewery’s own tag-line for this strong brew is “Lordy, Lordy, welcome to the Promised Land!”  Brewer Simon Fahey will be in the vicinity to answer any questions.  It will also be used in several of the beer and food matching sessions (1pm and 6pm each day).

Next we will cover the rest of the beers and all the results from the 2010 BrewNZ Beer Awards.

* This name may need to be reviewed at some point in the future…
** This may be paraphrasing some, poshing-up some others.
*** I’m totally stealing “crescendo of massive hoppiness” for future use.


Neil Miller
Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine


Beervana –
Stone and Wood –
Thornbridge – http://www.thornbridgebrewery.