Fifty Fred Flintstones on Featherston Street will be no big deal. A dozen Hulk Hogan’s hanging out at McDonalds will barely rate a mention on Twitter. Thirty two nuns who are quite obviously men in wimples will struggle to raise an eyebrow.
That is, of course, assuming you are a Wellington local and have become acclimatised to this annual suspension of normalcy and dignity for two days. I recall walking through town a few years ago watching the complete befuddlement on the faces of American tourists who had disembarked their cruise ship expecting to find the cultural capital of New Zealand and instead walked into an Antipodean Mardis Gras.
Malthouse will be open throughout the Sevens to provide a sanctuary of relative normality and an oasis of quality beer in the heart of Courtenay Place. Of course, getting to the heart of Courtenay Place will be slightly complicated by various road closures and security fences as the Capital practises setting up a pedestrian party zone for the Rugby World Cup later in the year.
One of the teams at the Sevens will be the United States of America which is in Pool A with England, Wales and the Cook Islands. USA has been a popular team at the Westpac Stadium ** and they can expect strong support again, particularly when they play England. The crowd, on the off-chance they are paying attention to the rugby rather than each other, will probably back the Cooks over America because they always love the under-dog. Even with that proviso, the American players will probably never receive such crowd support again, even during the San Diego leg of the global Sevens tournament.
Appropriately enough, Malthouse has some new American and American-style beers available. These include three rare offerings from the good people at Sierra Nevada, the ground-breaking Californian craft brewery – two beers from the Sierra 30 project *** and a seasonal release:
Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Charlie, Fred and Ken’s Bock – Produced by three of America’s most legendary brewers, this is described as a “bold but balanced” 8.3% Imperial Helles Lager. ****
Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Jack and Ken’s Ale – Reported to be a “robust and complex” American barleywine which weighs in at 10.2%
Sierra Nevada Tumbler – This 5.5% Autumn Brown Ale showcases a smooth body which conceals a surprisingly hefty bitterness.
Currently on tap from the American team at Golden Bear Brewery in Port Mapua is the second edition of their Fat Toad IPA (7%). It is tasting great to me at the moment. I also laughed out loud at this comment from the peeps down at Dunedin’s Tonic Bar: “You’ve had the Hop Toad, then the Seismic IPA, now it’s time for the Fat Toad. We think the Fat Toad ate the Hop Toad. It’s bigger, it’s fatter. Go on, you know you want one!”
The man probably most responsible for popularising American hops in New Zealand had a significant birthday on 2 February 2010. Mr Luke Nicholas, founder of the Epic Brewing Company, enthusiastic air guitarist and unreformable hop juggernaut, first entered the world on this day some years ago. We could not possibly mention how old he is ***** but best wishes to the Impish Brewer on this august occasion.
Finally, just a reminder that the 45th Super Bowl will be shown at the Malthouse on Monday 7 February from noon. Given the tough nature of the two teams involved (Pittsburgh and Green Bay), it seems appropriate to end with a 1972 quote from Mr Henry Blaha:
“Rugby is a beastly game played by gentlemen. Soccer is a gentleman’s game played by beasts. [American] football is a beastly game played by beasts.”
I know I’m ready for some football.
* Telling that any references to rugby have been dropped from the tournament title.
** Only people outside Wellington call it the Cake Tin and no-one not directly employed by Rugby World Cup Limited will ever call it the Wellington Regional Stadium.
*** Four limited-edition collaborative beers brewed to celebrate thirty years in business.
**** I know Helles Lager is not a Bock but I am certainly not brave enough to argue with Charlie Papazian, Fred Eckhart and Ken Grossman. Let’s go with the moderates who called it a Helles Bock.
***** Suffice to say it is the only number which rhymes with naughty, haughty and shorty.
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine
Courtenay Place for the Sevens – http://www.wellington.govt.nz/news/display-item.php?id=4300
Sierra 30 Project – http://www.sierra30.com/
Golden Bear – http://www.goldenbearbrewing.com/
Tonic Bar – http://www.tonicbar.co.nz/
Epic Brewing Company – http://epicbeer.com/
Impish Brewer – http://imp.epicbeer.com/
Malthouse on Twitter – http://twitter.com/malthouse
Malthouse Facebook Group – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wellington/Malthouse/7084276173
Real Beer – http://www.realbeer.co.nz
Beer and Brewer Magazine – http://www.beerandbrewer.com/