From the first kick off to the final whistle, the crowds in the stands and the millions watching around the world will be whipped to a frenzy by this impending display of sporting perfection. Many, if not all of them, will be drinking beer while watching. I am, of course, talking about Super Bowl XLVII on Monday 4 February 2013. The Wellington Sevens are also on this Friday and Saturday

Ah, the Wellington Sevens. I have been five times, including the inaugural event. At the first Wellington Rugby Sevens, me and my friend wore matching Hawaiian shirts and were mocked by the crowd as some sort of costumed freaks. Now, unless you turn up with fifty friends all dressed as Hulk Hogan, Fred Flintstone, iPods or sexy taxi drivers then you are mocked for your prudishness. A lot has changed. For example, at early Sevens tournaments, people actually watched the rugby. It was quite meaningful when the organisers quietly changed “Wellington Rugby Sevens” to “Wellington Sevens” and now “Hertz Sevens Wellington”. 

The focus now is more on the costumes, the dancing and the socialising. [1]

Several years ago, a cruise ship docked in Wellington on one of the Sevens days and it was a tremendous amount of fun (for me at least) watching the baffled looks on tourist’s faces as they watched a pack of half-dressed male smurfs attempt to serenade a gaggle of half-undressed female Barbies across Lambton Quay. I did not even attempt to explain it to the visitors. The cruise ship had apparently failed to warn them about what to expect on-shore. [2]

This Friday and Saturday, Malthouse welcomes people in costumes heading to or from the stadium, those wanting to watch the rugby games on the television screens and those just looking for a great beer on what is forecast to be a couple of very hot days. Doors will open at noon each day and stay open until 3am or so. There will be a complimentary buffet from 10pm and on Saturday Malthouse will expand out into the street to create what the hip kids call a Party Zone. Sounds will be provided by DJ Ayesha who will be playing a range of party anthems. [3] Word. [4]

Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor has introduced a new special offer for 2012.  On Sevens Friday and Saturday, patrons that purchase a drink at Malthouse while wearing Helen Clark or Margaret Thatcher costumes will receive “bonus pints.”  Anyone wearing said costumes had better be heading to the Sevens or have a really, really good explanation. [5]

One of the featured beers of the weekend will be West Coast International Pale Ale (5%) in order to, in the words of Colin, “reflect the international flavours of the Sevens.” The brewers at West Coast have combined English malt (pale and crystal), American ale yeast and New Zealand hops (Nelson Sauvin and NZ Cascade) to produce a wonderfully balanced and quaffable drop.

Now, I am first to concede that I am hardly an authority on well balanced pale ales. One man who most certainly fits that criterion is the owner of the most famous trousers on the Kiwi beer scene, Stu McKinlay of the Yeastie Boys.  Each year, he gives out his own awards – the coveted Golden Pints (aka backslappers).  Here is his award for Best New Zealand Draught Beer (keg, cask or bag):

“Given the popularity of hoppy pale ales I really think we’re lacking great examples of drinkable ones, with NZ brewers being a lot stronger in the IPA domain. West Coast Brewing International Pale Ale is always bang on the mark and has been one of my most regularly drunk beers in 2012.”

That is a high accolade indeed and these awards are highly accurate. In the same post, Stu names me Best Beer Twit of 2012. He assures me it is in relation to my popular @beerlytweeting Twitter account [6] and nothing else.

On Monday 4 February, Malthouse will open at 11am for Super Bowl XLVII. Coverage begins at noon and the game runs for three or four glorious hours. It features my beloved San Francisco 49ers up against the epitome of evil – the Baltimore Ravens. In authentic American style, there will be piles of spicy chicken wings available as well as pizza & fries. Guest American beers will include the tasty Firestone Double Jack Imperial IPA (9.5%), Left Coast Voodoo Stout (8.5% and perhaps the greatest tap handle ever seen at Malthouse) and Big Sky Moose Drool Brown Ale (5.1% and perhaps one of the greatest beer names ever seen at Malthouse).

Finally, go Niners!

[1] I’m looking forward to seeing 475 photos on Facebook of my friend who is dressing up as legendary pro wrestler The Nature Boy Ric Flair.  

[2] Recreated conversation from Michigan: “How was your cruise around New Zealand?” “It is a beautiful country.” “Tell me about Wellington – I hear it is the cultural capital!” “It was a cross between Mardi Gras, Spring Break and Armageddon.”

[3] But probably not “Don’t Stop Believing”.  She did not play it last time I asked.

[4] Don’t let my fluency in street language fool you – I’m actually an upper middle class guy living in a posh suburb.

[5] Neither Helen Clark nor Margaret Thatcher is eligible for “bonus pints” as they would not technically be in costume. However, should the real Baroness Thatcher turn up then I will happily buy all her drinks, ma’am. 

[6] The only account in the world to be followed by both MC Hammer and PM John Key.


Neil Miller
Beer Writer
Beer and Brewer Magazine


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