In the last eighteen months or so, a number of new venues have joined the likes of Galbraith’s Ale House and Hallertau Brewbar in making their own beer right on the premises. 


Last Friday, Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor tapped a keg of Element 5 Pale Ale making Malthouse the first Wellington establishment to pour beers from The Brewery Britomart. [1] In all, there will be five Britomart beers on tap over the coming days. 


Somehow brilliantly anticipating that this day would come, I previously visited The Brewery Britomart on Custom Street in downtown Auckland on two occasions.  I enjoyed both visits.  On my most recent excursion I foolishly left my credit card behind the bar.  Fortunately, it only held the princely bar tab of $9.  In my defence, I was racing to begin the three hour journey to the airport.  In Auckland’s defence, I was spending two of those three hours at Galbraith’s Ale House. 


After contacting The Brewery Britomart owners and profusely apologising in the traditional manner (through Twitter), they were kind enough to mail the card back to me and didn’t even max it out buying weapons grade plutonium from Kazakhstan. [2] This story however pales in comparison to the petty drama surrounding my first visit.  On that instance we were joined for lunch by an old friend who I shall call Mike Heine, because that is his name. 


In addition to a few revitalising ales, he ordered pizza.  To the surprise of exactly no one, I had the sliders.  His pizza was a Quattro Cheese – basically four cheeses and some sauce on a pizza crust.  Only, his pizza was unlike any I have seen before or since.  Each type of cheese occupied exactly one quarter of the pizza.  There was absolutely no mixing: it was like a dance in 1971 South Africa. 


The end result was that each pizza quarter was of wildly varying quality.  Although the owners subsequently assured me that this pizza construction was not standard practice, it did provide considerable entertainment to the rest of the table.  I’m sure it is not related but that particular pizza appears to have disappeared off their expanded menu.


However, Mr Heine, the recipient of the fromage experiment, had the last laugh.  After creditably polishing off the pizza and a couple of pints, he headed off home having neglected to pay his share of the very modest tab.  Upon noticing this oversight, I rang him.  He implausibly claimed to be in a speeding bus in the outer suburbs when I knew he was likely to be stuck in traffic about 300 metres away.  After all, he had only been gone for twenty minutes. [3]


Nevertheless, he promised to shout me lunch when I next visited him if I covered his bill this time.  That seemed most reasonable so I happily paid.  Then, in a masterstroke, Mike Heine moved to Hamilton.  He knew that would be the one place I could never visit – not even for a free lunch.  Well played sir. 


It is an open secret that I can’t go to Hamilton as they are apparently quite touchy about an allegedly catalogue of insults from me about Hamilton and its assorted denizens over the years.  I say ‘alleged catalogue’ only because, while I have undoubtedly teased the good burghers of the Tron many times, I doubt they have the technological ability to catalogue all the barbs.  The lunch remains unclaimed to this very day.


During my various visits, I had a chance to look at The Brewery Britomart operations.  The brew kit is small but very cleverly set out.  They calculate they can have up to 15,000 litres of as many as 12 different beers on site at any given time.  There is a standard range joined by a series of special and seasonal brews.  The five coming on tap at Malthouse are:


Monk’s Hip Hop Belgian IPA 7.0% – This ‘fusion’ beer highlights hops and yeast.  It was the People’s Choice at SOBA’s City of Ales festival in the weekend


Double Dutch Belgian Dubbel 7.1% – Rich, raisin, plum and Belgian dark funk.


Customs 69 IPA 6.5% – Big, bold, hoppy and unsurprisingly my favourite of the foundation range. [4]


Element 5 NZ Pale Ale 5.0% – Hoppy, aromatic, smooth.   

Anchors Aweigh Californian Common Lager 4.6% – Clean, cold conditioned, crisp. 


There is plenty of action in the Malthouse fridges too with a new shipment from the North.  These include the famous Harviestoun Ola Dubh dark ales which have been aged in whisky barrels.  Versions which have been aged in Highland Park 12 year old, 16 year old and 18 year old whisky barrels are available in strictly limited numbers. 


Joining them are two offerings from our off-beat friends at BrewDog – Anarchist/Alchemist (a 14% “triple hopped triple IPA”) and Paradox Isle of Arran (an Imperial Stout with whisky notes).  Finally, from America there is the welcome return of Green Flash West Coast IPA (a beer so hoppy it feels like it is cleaning your teeth) and Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (a seasonal release which always creates a stir).


 [1] Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.  It is also unlikely that you have won the Spanish National Lottery without entering it.


[2] Greetings to the members of the global intelligence community who may have been drawn to this blog by that facetious sentence.


[3] While I (and many others) tease Auckland about its traffic issues, I acknowledge that Current Councillor and Future Mayor Cameron Brewer is doing a creditable job in the circumstances.


[4] For those tittering away about the name, The Brewery Britomart says “don’t put too much thought into it.  The name is derived from our address – 69 Customs Street.  What were you thinking?”  This footnote might attract more searches than footnote two above…




Neil Miller


Beer Writer

Real Beer New Zealand

Beer and Brewer Magazine





The Brewery Britomart website –

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Mike Heine’s Blog –

Beervana –

Malthouse Facebook –

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Malthouse Taps on Twitter –!/MalthouseTaps

Neil Miller on Twitter –

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