However, this March appears to be much busier with a plethora of beery events in the Malthouse and around town.  I have certainly been quite occupied running a record number of beer tastings for foreign journalists who are out here scouting the country ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Last Wednesday (16 March), it was the Whisky and Haggis evening in the funky Malthouse lounge.  Participants enjoyed an introductory stem of Hallertau Minimus (a tasty ‘breakfast pale ale’ of sessionable strength) before a resplendent Stu McKinlay delivered a word-perfect Address to the Haggis, complete with passion, a passable accent and plenty of gestures. [1]

In terms of whisky, I presented the Bowmore Legend (an introductory Islay which had hints of peat, honey, citrus and salt), plaid-clad barman Phil Cook introduced the Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban (a complex, seductive single malt which popularised the use of port pipes to add depth of flavour) while Colin Mallon showcased the iconic Caol Ila (a robust, complex, beguiling Islay whisky which was my personal favourite of the evening).

In terms of food, the haggis was imported along the ancient trade route from Scotland to Wellington through the Main Street of Tawa.  It was, in the words of Burns himself, “warm-reekin, rich” [2] and was accompanied by the traditional “tatties and neeps.” [3] We also served up a surprise pudding though when I described it as a “traditional Scottish dessert” a large number of people correctly guessed it was deep fried Mars Bars

Overall, it was a highly successful evening and the sheer number of people asking the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor about #deepfriedhaggisonastick may indicate this popular snack could return sooner rather than later.  He has hinted on Twitter this could be as early as 23 March. [4] Cardiologists around Wellington are probably already writing stern letters to him…

This Wednesday (23 March), it is Ask the Brewer night with seven “Hopstars” in attendance from 7pm.  As a reminder, the line-up was described in last week’s post as:

Stu McKinlay (Yeastie Boys – recent star on the front page of the Dominion Post), Luke Nicholas (Epic Brewing – regular on the cover of Impish Zymurgical Gazette), Kelly Ryan (Epic Brewing – lauded on Pete Brown’s beer blog), Carl Vasta (Tuatara – Mr October – Shorts and Stubbies Monthly), Mike Neilson (Tuatara – future stint on Shortland Street), Steve Plowman (Hallertau – inspiration for Nude Brewer Dot Com), Darryl Sweeney (West Coast – gardening columnist for the Westport Bugle) and Dion Page (formerly Tuatara – featured performer at an upcoming baby Tuatara’s birthday drinks).”  There may even be a couple of last minute additions if they get immigration clearance from New Plymouth and The Mainland….

Actually, that Tuatara tasting (24 March) has created a very minor controversy.  Last week, this blog ran a competition about what gender the baby Tuatara at Zealandia was.  Entrants had to provide verification of their answer in order to claim the alluring prize of Tuatara beer and a matching t-shirt.

The winning entry was from Matthew who very quickly wrote in saying the baby was male.  His proof was the Zealandia press release from 2009 regarding the discovery of the baby which is consistently referred to as “he”.  However, I had missed an earlier message left on my phone by a Zealandia staff member saying the gender of a Tuatara cannot be determined for ten to twelve years.  The end result – Matthew keeps his prize and I have no idea what colour hat to buy the baby Tuatara at the sanctuary. [5]

Next week, the Wednesday event is the first semester of Beer 101.  This is a (hopefully) informative, entertaining and interactive seminar aimed at people who might be new to craft beer or just getting more interested in the topic.  It contains history, stories, facts, figures, myths and even a few tastings.  Contact the bar to book as places are limited – just like real universities these days!

On Thursday 7 April there will be another Meet the Brewer session, this time with Matt Duncan from Founder’s in Blenheim.  Organised in conjunction with the good folk at Regional Wines, this is a chance to talk to the brewer from New Zealand’s first certified organic brewery and first certified Kosher Brewery. 

There will be a rare opportunity to try their Marchfest festival beer – Founder’s Surprise Me AKA AK4.7 [6] – and their limited release pilsner.  This blog will post more details of this event closer to the time but it will run from 5pm to 7pm.

[1] Virtually the entire Address is making fun of people who do not eat haggis.
[2] Which translates as “warm, steaming, rich.”
[3] Which translates as “potatoes and turnips.”
[4] The key word remains “could”.
[5] Before anyone else says it, even less idea about colours than usual.
[6] That’s easy for them to say…


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine


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