Saint Patrick’s Day may only be an official public holiday in Ireland and Montserrat [1] but New Zealanders – like the English, Americans. Australians and many other nationalities – have long embraced it and enthusiastically celebrate all things Irish, at least for a day. The triumphant Rugby World Cup Final may have pipped last year’s Paddy’s Day as the largest party in the land but this year March 17 looks to reclaim its slightly crooked crown.

Saint Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this time which will doubtless disappoint many revellers who will have to make merry on their own time. However, the timing will delight the Minister of Finance and the Treasury gnomes eagerly measuring the nation’s productivity on an hourly basis. It comes on top of February 29 where everyone on a salary basically worked for nothing.

On March 17 Malthouse will be open from noon until very late (probably 3am on 18 March). Green beer – as always – will not be on the menu. I firmly believe that food colouring is like pumpkin, it has absolutely no place in beer.[2]

However, there will be a very good stout making a rare appearance on tap and something a little bit stronger for those looking to get an authentic taste of the Emerald Isles. Invercargill Pitch Black Stout (4.5%) is made in Invercargill, not Ireland. While the huggable brewer Steve Nally is pure Southern Man, he is certainly cheeky enough to be an honorary leprechaun. [3] His silky stout has consistently made my Top Ten Beers of the Year list, no mean feat for a beer with hardly any hops. The combination of dusty coffee and milk chocolate notes is mouth-watering and every pint proves that a stout does not have to be strong or heavy to be delicious.

For those who fancy supping the “Waters of Life”, there will be various specials on Jameson Whiskey for Saint Patrick’s Day. Distilled in County Cork and aged in Dublin, Jameson is the best selling Irish whiskey in the world with over 30 million bottles purchased each year. While the extra ‘e’ in whiskey always looks odd to a Scot like me, Irish whiskey has grown on me in recent years. As a genre it is subtly different to Scotch or bourbon but definitely not without its charms.

Last year’s Saint Patrick’s blog post was titled “Diddly Dee, Potatoes”, a reference to a very funny sketch by comedian Danny Bhoy as he attempted to explain the difference between Irish and Scottish accents to a Canadian audience. [4] As it turned out, that phrase was the sixth most common search people used to find the Malthouse blog page. It was only beaten by “Wellington Pub” (understandable), “Wayner Roonry St Georges Flag Tatto” (illiterate and unintelligent), “Och Aye the Noo” (the Saint Andrew’s Day post), “Kettle Calling the Pot Black” (fun with the Yeastie Boys) and “The Malthouse” (thankfully).

Today, I Googled “diddly dee potatoes” (again) and that blog post popped up sixth out of “about 937,000 results.” Google helpfully told me the search took exactly 0.14 seconds which made me think it would have been better for it to take another 0.2 seconds and give me the exact number of results. That is because one of the main lessons I learned working in Parliament for is that when you start throwing big numbers around they have to be really, really precise.

If a politician says “this policy will cost a hundred million dollars” no one believes them. We are instinctively suspicious of round numbers. If the same politician said the policy would “cost ninety nine million, three hundred and eighteen thousand dollars and twenty seven cents” they would be hailed as a fiscal genius. In fact, the policy will actually cost a lot more than either figure but that is beside the point.

Before we get to Saint Patrick’s Day, the new “Wellington In A Pint” promotion is being launched by Clemenger BBDO Wellington. Basically, craft and home brewers are being challenged to come up with a new beer which perfectly sums up the Capital. It is being launched at the Fork & Brewer on 15 March (invite only) but more details will be reported here as they become available.

I understand a number of the best commercial and non-commercial brewers are already keen to make a beer which is “Wellington In A Pint” to them. As a proud Wellingtonian and occasional beer drinker, I have thrown my hat in the ring to be one of the judges.

[1] A small British Overseas Territory in the Leeward Islands which is part of the West Indies.

[2] All complaints should be sent to

[3] Albeit a very large leprechaun.

[4] Spoiler Alert: The Irish get “diddly dee, potatoes.” Mr Bhoy is Scottish.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Real Beer New Zealand

Beer and Brewer Magazine

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