Thirty five buildings around the city remain closed and parts of Featherston Street are still cordoned off due to dangers from glass and masonry. However, Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown has declared the city is “open for business” though town remains a bit quiet and – technically speaking – feels a bit weird.

Malthouse was undamaged by the quake with the only reported damage being a broken bottle of bourbon, [2] a few spilled pints and some understandable rattled customers and staff. Most craft beer venues around the city were similarly unaffected but the Malthouse’s thoughts go out to our friends at Tap Haus, Bru Haus, D4, Featherston Bar and Regional Wines and Spirits who seemed to suffer the worst effects.

Unsurprisingly, the West Coast IPA Challenge beers have run out or are very close to running out. However, some will undoubtedly return in the future. Until then, Colin the Handsome Yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor has been busy sourcing a number of interesting beers, some of which are making a welcome return – one for perhaps the last time. [3]

One beer I’m delighted to see back is Croucher Lowrider (2.7%), easily one of New Zealand’s best mid-to-low alcohol beers.  It is a heavily hopped IPA which reverses the trend towards strong pale ales while retaining the heavy hopping that Kiwis have gained a real taste for.  In my opinion, it is right up there with Emerson’s Bookbinder when it comes to responsible session brews. This time Lowrider will be on the handpull so it should be smoother and thicker than previous versions.

Colin has also unearthed the “final stash” of Epic Message in a Bottle (7.5%), a more traditional IPA originally brewed to accompany the launch of Michael Donaldson’s excellent book “Beer Nation”.  For an Epic beer, it is very balanced with strong caramel notes before the Impish Brewer’s trademark big bitter finish.  I would not be surprised to see this return in a year or two but then I have been wrong before. [4]

While I generally try to drink Kiwi craft beers, one of my favourite international beverages is back on tap – Thornbridge Jaipur IPA (5.9%).  This is a world classic beer and has a Kiwi connection. Brewer Kelly Ryan – now at Good George in Hamilton – worked for Epic, Thornbridge, Fyne Ales and DB Breweries.  Yes, the man who has made Hop Zombie IIPA and Jaipur IPA started his career making Tui “East India Pale Ale”. This beer booms out citrus notes over a firm malt middle before a deceptively hoppy finish cleans up the honey-like sweetness. Massively hopped yet balanced, any self respecting beer lover should definitely have Jaipur on their CV. [5]

Joining it is stablemate Thornbridge Chiron Golden Ale (5%).  Stablemate is a surprisingly apt description as it is named after Chiron – a sophisticated and civilised centaur of Greek mythology. [6] There is a statue of this half man-half horse at the Thornbridge Brewery.  One of the best examples of modern English golden ales, Chiron has subtle but still spicy citrus hops, a strong pale malt backbone and a tart fruity finish. If you are doing both Thornbridge beers, have the Chiron first otherwise the Jaipur will knock it about a bit. [7]

Making good use of his shady Scottish connections, Colin will also be putting on at least two Brew Dog beers on tap over the next week or so (taps permitting).  So it will be the chance to get a pint of their powerful Punk and very powerful Hardcore pale ales. These are clearly at the “non-loony” end of the Brew Dog range but that has to be seen in the context of the others they make (Tactical Nuclear Penguin anyone?)  I heart Brew Dog very much indeed.

On that note, it is probably time to head off to Malthouse to triple check those pale ales are pouring well after the quakes.  It is definitely one of the better ways to Get Thru.

Next time, we drink to civil defence personal and the emergency services. Thank you all.

[1] This humble correspondent ended up hugging rather fiercely one of the enormous pillars outside the Wellington Train Station.  I already had a tenuous relationship with public transport and this experience is probably not going to help even though there is no evidence to suggest that Tranz Metro’s largely aspirational slogan “Go the Train” had anything to do with the quakes.  .

[2] It was indeed Jim Beam, apparently. 

[3] This should be taken with a grain of salt as the brewer involved is famous for finding more stocks after the “last ever batch”… 

[4] Notable examples include – but are not limited to – “New Zealander’s will never vote to adopt MMP”, “Twitter is for people with attention spans too short for Facebook,” “that kebab shop smells delicious” and “Scotland will definitely beat the All Blacks this week”.

[5] Thornbridge Jaipur should never be confused with the Jaipur “craft” brewery from India which has started popping up at Indian eateries around town. Their lager is basically a straight replacement for Kingfisher Strong and has a very similar flavour profile (though it is perhaps marginally better). Jaipur Lager is worth a try only if there is nothing else interesting on the beer list.

[6] Well, as sophisticated and civilised as you can be when your bathroom is basically a meadow.

[7] That caveat applies to most beers after a Jaipur. It is like Hop Zombie in that way – it can be hard to go back down the flavour spectrum. I’m not sure as I’ve never really tried unless Zombie runs out.


Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine


Croucher Brewery –

Epic Brewery –

Thornbridge Brewery –

Malthouse Facebook –

Malthouse Twitter –!/malthouse

Malthouse Taps on Twitter –!/MalthouseTaps

Neil Miller on Twitter –!/beerlytweeting

Beer and Brewer Magazine –