there is an even more relaxed dress code, casual snacking is virtually compulsory and sub-editors don’t mess with your headlines.  For those not familiar with the inner workings of the traditional media machine, the actual writer will usually suggest a headline for their piece which is virtually always changed for something gimmicky by a disgruntled sub-editor.

Student media have taken to parodying this mainstream phenomenon with a seemingly endless competition to produce the most outrageous and/or ridiculous headlines.  I was the Master of Ceremonies at the recent student media awards [1] and the finalists for best headline included “VSM struggling through prolonged Labour” (Critic) and “Can you manage a trois?”

(Magneto).  My personal favourite recently was the Critic report on some rather small protests which trumpeted “0.00175% of students get fired up.  Government unmoved.” As a reasonably regular contributor to mainstream print media over the years, I have become resigned to seeing some of my carefully crafted prose appearing under tacky puns and/or frankly misleading headlines.  Of course, my minor frustrations cannot even begin to compare to the legendary rant by acerbic English scribe Giles Cohen when sub-editors at the Times tinkered with his last sentence and basically ruined the whole joke.  The language in his letter is too “Gordon Ramsay” and some of the content overly “Best of Shane Jones’ Video Library” for this blog but the link is below. [2]

Perhaps the worst piece of headline butchery I have personally experienced happened early in my career when I was writing a free beer column for a free community paper which has long since folded.  While I will always be grateful to be given my first print column, there is no excuse for making an otherwise serviceable article about wheat beers appear under the cringe-worthy title “Wonderful Wheat Beers Whet My Whistle.”  Even I was reluctant to read it after that howler. 

After this minor spleen venting [3], the topic this week is naturally wheat beer.  Regular correspondent Roger Protz provides this definition of wheat beer on his Beer Pages site:

“A top-fermented beer fermented from a mix of wheat malt (usually a minimum 50%) and barley malt, which usually produces a very pale beer with an alcoholic strength of just over 5% ABV, a sour, fruity-biscuity flavour (distinctive brews often have a spiced-apple character) and a substantial sediment (those prefixed with Hefe labour this point).  Unlike most bottle-conditioned ales, the sediment in a wheat beer is supposed to be poured into the glass to produce the desired cloudy effect.  It gives the beer its special fruity roundness and, of course, makes the beer fizzy to one degree or another, which when poured often throws such a vast, fluffy, voluminous head that it requires the use of a special glass to contain.  Most wheat beers are German, but Belgium also has a certain renown.”

Currently at Malthouse there are a range of wheat beers on offer, both on the taps and in the voluminous fridges.  The biggest seller is Tuatara Hefe (5%), a locally made German-style Hefeweizen which showcases the traditional banana, bubble gum and clove characteristics even though it uses all New Zealand ingredients.  Joining it on the taps is the classic Erdinger Hefeweizen (5%), an authentic Bavarian Hefeweizen which has been made for centuries.  Perhaps a little drier and thinner than the Tuatara, Erdinger is a classic thirst quencher.

Dr Ralph Bungard provides a unique Kiwi twist on Belgian-style Witbier.  Instead of the traditional Curacao orange peel and coriander used in such benchmark brews as Hoegaarden, he uses the coriander but substitutes lemon zest for orange peel. [4]  The resulting Three Boys Wheat (5%) has a pronounced citrus snap on top of a spicy, creamy body.  It is a real eye-opener and a great way to introduce ‘non-traditional beer drinkers’ to the joys of beer.

Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn (usually known as Schneider) make some of Germany’s most highly regarded wheat beers.  Their bedrock beer is Schneider Weiss (5.4%), a well-balanced Hefeweisen with notes of nutmeg and clove.  However, their flagship is the extraordinary Schneider Aventinus (8.2%) [5], a rarely seen Weizen Bock.  Pouring a dark ruby red, it is a mysterious yet beguiling mix of clove, caramel, banana, chocolate, honey, sour and wood notes.  Aventinus is one of the highest rated beers ever on RateBeer. 

Malthouse is also fortunate to have some stocks of the rare Emerson’s Dunkel Weiss (6.4%).  This seasonal release is the winter counterpart to the acclaimed Emerson’s Weissbier. It is a complex delicious dark wheat beer which the brewery website lists as sold out until 2012. 

At the Beer versus Wine Dinner last year, this beer matched with banana ice cream wowed even the most wine fixatated foodie and secured beer’s deserved victory on the night.

This week, long time Malthouse friend Luke Nicholas from Epic Brewing Company will be in town and will doubtless be on the consumer side of the bar at some stage.  The Impish Brewer has travelled south to preside over the Hop Zombie Invasion of the Fork and Brewer on Bond Street.  Luke will lead his hoppy minions into battle with Armageddon IPA going on tap at 5pm and Hop Zombie (batch 1 and batch 2) available from 6pm.  Chef will (slightly reluctantly) be preparing a bombardment of Haggis Wontons and Haggis Arancini Balls.  Luke may also reveal more details of Epic LARGER, an Imperial Pilsner brewed for Christmas. [6]

[1] All the real writers had noticed the All Blacks pool match against France was on and politely declined.
[2] Well worth a read.  Virtually everyone who appreciates the English language sides with Cohen in this case.
[3] A mere 2.2 on the Cohen-o-Meter.
[4] Zesting sackfuls of lemons on cold Christchurch winter mornings is apparently not one of brewing’s most desirable tasks.
[5] Beer Fact #449: No matter how you pronounce it, the bartender taking the order will always pronounce it slightly differently. 
[6] It is the Lager Brother of Hop Zombie, apparently.


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine


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