[1] Consequently, the low prices, casual debauchery and decidedly average beers at “The Hog” suited me and my fresh-faced coterie just fine. 

The promotional material back then claimed that all the Loaded Hog beers on tap were made in their on-site brewery.  Now, it is true that I do recall a single, small (50 litre?) brewing vessel fully encased in a plastic tank at the top of the stairs. Only years later did I realise how ludicrous their claim really was.

That tiny vessel could never have even begun to supply a fraction of the beer quaffed at a packed student bar.  That is assuming it was even connected to anything.  I never saw any steam, any cleaning or any brewers during my numerous visits. 

The truth is that all their beer was brewed centrally and disturbed to the chain of Loaded Hog bars around the country.  However, I found out recently that there was apparently a time when beer was made on site with the brewery situated where the photocopy shop is today. 

However, that set-up was long gone by the time I was queuing in the rain to climb the stairs in search of cheap beer and 2-for-1 chips. [2]

The Loaded Hog is long gone from that site.  In fact, it is long gone from every site as the entire company seems to have closed down.  A number of hospitality ventures filled the space in subsequent years including a long stint as Syn Bar (Hell Pizza and a hell-ish beer list) and a short spell as the Ruby Lounge nightclub (no idea what the beer selection was as I never went there). [3] 

Today, 14 Bond Street is the Fork & Brewer Gastrobrewpub. [4] The name is designed to reflect the two key aspects of the operation – food and beer.  A growing segment of their extensive beer selection is provided by the 1,000 litre microbrewery which takes pride of place at the top of those famous stairs.

The brewing plant (eventually) kicked into action late last year and brewer Lester Dunn is producing a growing range of beers which travel just metres to the customer. For the first six months or so, the Fork & Brewer beers, including The Bohemian Hipster and The Hoppit, [5] were only available on-site.  However, last week the first “exports” went out the door with kegs heading to Little Beer Quarter and Malthouse

Two Fork & Brewer libations are now on tap at Malthouse.  One is their latest creation (released 26 March 2013), Fork & Brewer Easter Egg Stout (4%).  As the name suggests, this was a stout brewed for Easter with plenty of roasted malt notes including caramel and chocolate.  It is not a heavy drop – it is more dry and clean to suit this unseasonably good weather.   

The other is probably the mainstay of Lester’s growing range. Fork & Brewer Base Isolator APA (6%) was the second beer ever released and it has been made consistently since mainly because drinkers really took to it.  It is an APA – one of the hottest styles in New Zealand beer right now – and Base Isolator is juicy with citrus, lychee and grapefruit character before a firm bitter finish. I’ve called it a “punchy American Pale Ale” in the past and I stand by that description.  It gets a very respectable 3.72 rating on UnTappd. [6] It is often in my glass when I’m in my favourite seat at the Fork.

Advance Notice: 10-12 April – HOPSTOCK 2013. The first ever HOPSTOCK festival will involve twelve of Wellington’s best craft beer bars celebrating Nelson’s 2013 hop harvest by serving eight unique fresh hopped beers. The beers will be exclusive to one or two venues only for those three days. Malthouse will be serving Tuatara Conehead while Fork & Brewer will unveil their Hopstepper. The full list is on the just launched HOPSTOCK website.  (Link Below)

I thought last year’s Conehead was at its finest when it was absolutely fresh – fresh hops seem quite volatile and tend to fade quickly with age. Some people think this adds much needed balance to the beer – I do not.  When I drink fresh hopped beers I want to get the taste impression that I’m being slapped in the face with a wet hop vine. 

Really advance notice: 21 June – Darkest Day.  Colin the Handsome Yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor is planning a day-long showcase of dark beers.  As the weather changes, more dark beers will be appearing at Malthouse and details of this Day will be announced closer to the time.  Malt Monsters, Porter Promoters and fans of the Dark Arts should put this date in their diary right now.

Really, really advanced notice: 12 July – Sixth Annual Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge

This is the biggest event on the Malthouse calendar and usually the busiest night of the entire year.  The concept remains the same – brewers are challenged to make a special pale ale inspired by the delicious pale ales of America’s West Coast. 

Colin has made a few changes this year however.  The number of entries has been capped, brewers will only be allowed one entry (including collaboration brews) and the beer has to be special – it cannot be part of their regular range.  As an unreformed Hop Head and Lupulus Lover, I’m looking forward to the Challenge already. 

Next time, we drink because we are playing the “Drinking Game of Thrones” – the only way to make Game of Thrones even more awesome. [7]

[1] That awakening would occur a couple of years later and a few hundred metres away on the balcony of the old Malthouse on Willis Street. 

[2] Students are able to convince themselves that chips and tomato sauce totally count as dinner.  Some people have never lost that ability…

[3] Few people reportedly did.  That is why they closed down.

[4] I have a small ownership stake in this establishment.  Most people will know that – mainly because I keep telling them about it whether they want to hear or not.

[5] Somewhat surprisingly we did not get sued by hipster lawyers and/or New Line Cinema. 

[6] Fork & Brewer beers are now on RateBeer and UnTappd so get rating and commenting. Links, as always, are below.

[7] The link is provided below.  Two of the most dangerous rules are “drink every time you want to punch Joffrey in the face” and “drink whenever Tyrian makes a witty remark.” Basically, if either character is on screen you pretty much have to drink.


Beer Writer
Beer and Brewer Magazine


Fork & Brewer – www.forkandbrewer.co.nz
Fork & Brewer on RateBeer – www.ratebeer.com/brewers/fork-brewer/16440/
Fork & Brewer on UnTappd – www.untappd.com/brewery/42617
HOPSTOCK – http://craftbeercapital.com/hopstock/about
Drinking Game of Thrones – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnEBatKmLpM
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
Beer and Brewer Magazine – www.beerandbrewer.com/