(unrefrigerated) but detest French cooking.  I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats.  I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field), have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome).  I go to bed late and get up late (when possible). I do not travel much.” [1]

Tolkien’s most famous creations – the mythical race of Hobbits – were infused with many of his personal loves: the country life, pints of ale, simple food, smoking pipes and blowing smoke rings, colourful waistcoats and plenty of time spent in deep conversation at the local pub. The star of The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins Esquire, accidentally hosts thirteen dwarfs and a grand wizard and manages to serve them tea, coffee, ale, porter, wine, raspberry jam, apple tart, mince pies, cheese, cakes, eggs, cold chicken, pork pies, salad and pickles. [2]

He was able to do so because his home – the “comfortable” hobbit hole of Bag End – contained several cellars holding barrels of beer.

JRR admitted that he was personally “very fond of a beer” and the same could certainly be said for Bilbo, Frodo, Sam and (particularly) Merry and Pippin.   Few could fail to be moved by the look of sheer joy on Merry’s face when Pippin demonstrated that beer could indeed be served in pint glasses.  In The Hobbit, the dwarf Bofur (played by James Nesbitt) [3] joined the Quest for the Lonely Mountain mainly because he was told the beer would be free. [4]

To honour yesterday’s premiere of The Hobbit, craft brewing wunderkinds The Yeastie Boys have created a golden ale called the Golden Perch which is on tap at Malthouse. It is named after one of the most revered pubs in the Shire which never appears in the films because Frodo fears that his friends will spend too much time there. As a result, he makes them take a detour. [4] Pippin accepts the decision but is not impressed:

“All right,” said Pippin, “I will follow you into every bog and ditch. But it is hard. I had counted on passing the Golden Perch at Stock before sundown.  The best beer in Eastfarthing, or used to be: it is a long time since I tasted it. “That settles it,” said Frodo. “Short cuts make delays but inns make longer ones. At all costs we must keep you away from the Golden Perch. We want to get to Bucklebury before dark. What do you say Sam?”  “I will go along with you Mr Frodo,” said Sam (in spite of private misgivings and a deep regret for the best beer in the Eastfarthing)”. 

Here is how the Yeastie Boys describe their beer:

“Golden Perch, an aromatic summer ale that will be simultaneously sipped by movie-goers and beer lovers alike, features ingredients from all across the world to showcase the diversity of the local film industry itself.  German and British malts form the backbone of the beer, a little bit like the history of our brewing industry, but there is a strong new world influence from the clean American ale yeast and the pungent Nelson Sauvin hops. Our hop growing and brewing industries, like our film industry, are now world renowned and that is not just for a stereotypical ‘clean green’ image but for the quality and character of what we actually produce.”

“But, in the end, Golden Perch is just a beer with enough flavour to satisfy the most ardent beer geek and remain subtle enough to not scare the attendees at the premiere. It is an easy drinking summer ale with little bits from all around the world but remains a great big showcase of New Zealand. The best beer in the Eastfarthing, some may say.”

However, like any good infomercial, there is more.  Director Stu McKinlay, who played three characters in the second Lord of the Rings films, [5] becomes the first brewer to send me a press release with the F-Bomb when he wrote:

“Fuck that! That is not what this beer is all about. This beer is a personal gift and should come with the personal story. The inspiration for the beer was the thought of sending a personal gift to Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson – our neighbours and friends. At big events like these the personal touch often gets lost in amongst the occasion and hype.  For most of the world, for most of New Zealand even, this is a major movie made by a large corporation and hosted by a city that is great at self-promotion.  Sometimes Yeastie Boys appears to seem like this to the people who meet us and they all seem very surprised when they find out that we both still have day jobs in other industries – and that we struggle to pay the bills, to get our invoices paid, and to get the kids into bed. 

The film industry is made up of a lot of people who have the same work through the same day to day issues as us. Their job, like ours, might seem glamorous but they all work their arses off. And, like us, some of them might stick with it until they’ve actually reached the point where it seems like they have made a decent hourly rate off it. But mostly we all do it because we love it!  We love the process and the final product. So… Golden Perch is a personal gift to Fran and Peter, who have worked harder than all of us, but it is also dedicated to all of those who have made New Zealand, and Wellington, and especially Miramar, the place that it is today. It is dedicated to human beings and to the unexpected journeys that we all find ourselves on.”

Golden Perch  (4.4%) is initially available in bottles at the world premiere of  The Hobbit, in Positively Wellington gift packs for selected visiting media and on tap at selected outlets (including Malthouse) over the next week. A general release of the beer, in both 330ml bottles and kegs, will occur just prior to Christmas. For those lucky few seeing the film this week, look for a star turn from a Malthouse regular playing the “Second Laketown Warrior from the Left”. He recently won a poll on the FishHead magazine Facebook page as the Hobbit star people would most like to have dinner with. [7]

If the premiere of The Hobbit was not enough reason to celebrate in the middle of the week, Malthouse currently has four high-quality hop bombs on tap, or about to strat flowing – Yeastie Boys Digital IPA (7%), Tuatara US APA (5.8%), Epic Mayhem (6.2%) and Epic Larger (8.5%). 

In the words of Balin, tea and coffee are all very well but “a little beer would suit me better.” In the words of me, “a big beer would suit me even better.”

Next time, we drink The Silmarillion.

[1] He also apparently enjoyed parentheses as much as I enjoy footnotes. 

[2] Gandalf has the wine.  Bombur the fat dwarf orders the pork pie. The salad was presumably for show.   

[3] Nesbitt previously starred in Ballykissangel, The Most Fertile Man in Ireland and a Persil commercial. 

[4] As it turns out, this is partly true. The book opens with the dwarfs happily drinking Bilbo’s beer. Their next pint is courtesy of three rather stupid trolls who are fooled by some amateur theatrics from Gandalf, get turned to stone by the sun and the party then takes their gold, legendary goblin-slaying swords and an untouched barrel of ale.

[5] Frodo is the Doug Sellman of Hobbits.

[6] He was an orc, a warrior of Rohan and an elf.  His fourth role, “elf lord with tight tartan pants”, was controversially cut even from the extended edition. 

[7] Mr Russel Barbour polled 21 votes, comfortably clear of Sir Ian McKellan (11 votes), Stephen Fry (10 votes) and Billy Connolly (10 votes).  However, his scenes are likely to only be in the third film.


Beer Writer
Beer and Brewer Magazine


Yeastie Boys Post-Modern Brewing Company – www.yeastieboys.co.nz
Good George Brewpub – www.goodgeorge.co.nz
Tuatara Brewing Company – www.tuatarabrewing.co.nz
Epic Brewing Company – www.epicbeer.co.nz
Hobbits and Beer article –http://tinyurl.com/c94y9fb

Malthouse Facebook – www.facebook.com/pages/Malthouse/7084276173
Malthouse Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/malthouse
Malthouse Taps on Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/MalthouseTaps
Neil Miller on Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/#!/beerlytweeting
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