Therefore, I was quite proud of becoming obsessed with Game of Thrones a mere two years after it was the hottest and most cutting edge show on television.

For those who have been living under a rock or in Hamilton, Game of Thrones is the hugely popular epic fantasy television saga chronicling the unending battle for the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms. The show brings the books of George R R Martin to the screen, complete with buckets of blood, lashings of intrigue, plenty of treachery and an artistically valid amount of nudity. 

This show has no qualms whatsoever about killing off seemingly major characters – perhaps the biggest surprise was when the star of season one (Ned Stark played by Sean Bean) literally lost his head. [1] As another character – Ramsay Snow – later said “if you thin this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.” The show’s biggest star is probably its smallest actor – Peter Dinklage – who rightly won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the magnificently decadent Tyrion Lannister. [2] The main advantage of finding Game of Thrones almost 24 months after its blockbuster debut was that I was able to watch all of Season 1 and Season 2 over four marathon sessions. 

However, Season 3 involved an agonising week long wait between episodes. After a few slow shows in the middle, the final few episodes were brilliant, highlighted by the brutally awesome Red Wedding scene.  At the end of the series I turned to my Thrones Buddy Rick and said “that was fantastic – when is season 4?”  His answer chilled my soul: “Not sure – 2014 sometime.”

2014?  2014?  2014?

There is a section of hardcore Game of Thrones fans which would have absolutely no sympathy for me.  They are the ones who read the books years before they appeared on television and become popular.  As a result, they know (roughly) what is going to happen for the next couple of seasons [3] and they have endured the pain of having to wait not one year for a new season but six years between books. Late to the bandwagon fans like me are therefore to be treated with some disdain.   

My favourite Australian parody rock band – The Axis of Awesome – has even written a song about the frustrations felt by those who “read the [expletive deleted] books.”  Rage of Thrones contains the following lyrics which I have had to give the “Richard Nixon Tape Transcript Treatment”: [4]

“I read them years ago, so don’t tell me about Jon Snow.
‘Cause I already know
I’ve got a signed copy of a Feast for Crows
Then a six year wait for a Dance with Dragons
A six year wait for a Dance with Dragons
Waited six [expletive deleted] years for a Dance with Dragons
and now you jump on the [expletive deleted] bandwagon?
Don’t talk to me about spoilers
Winter has been coming for sixteen [expletive deleted] years.”

“Winter is coming” was the iconic catchphrase of the early episodes. It was always said with a sense of foreboding even though winter never really seemed to arrive. However, winter has arrived in Wellington (along with an unwanted entourage of earthquakes) so Colin, the Handsome Yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor has been stocking the Malthouse with a growing selection of dark, warming ales.

From the legendary brewing town of Burton on Trent, Burton Bridge Bramble Stout (5%) is their famous Top Dog Stout with an addition of fresh blackberry juice. A winner of the National Bottled Beer award, this smooth black beer has a firm tan head. In the glass there hints of brown sugar, caramel, cocoa, blackberry, forest fruits and a rounded bitter finish. The blackberry brings in juicy but sharp notes which make Bramble Stout a distinctive brew.[5]

From the legendary lunatics of BrewDog Brewery, Brew Dog Libertine Black Ale (7.2%) is a single hopped (Simcoe) black ale. As usual, the brewery’s own tasting notes take things to a whole other level. Here are the edited highlights:

“Lose yourself in this voluptuous beast of a beer.  A twenty-first century hop overdose. This mother will seduce you, ravish you and you’ll be back gagging for more.  Adore it. Lust for it. Fall for it.  Libertine Black Ale is a dark hop bomb combining the hop awesomeness of an IPA, the decadent and indulgent malt flavours of a stout with an insatiable drinkability that belies the punch that this beer packs.  A Dark Knight amongst pale knaves. Bags of flavour and loads of hops.”

Malthouse has also acquired a stock of one of the strongest Kiwi beers ever made – 8 Wired Bumaye (16%). Brewer Soren Eriksen started by making a 17% Imperial Stout before adding sugar then maturing the beer for 16 months in Pinot Noir barrels from Mud House Winery. I tried the “raw” version of this beer at Beervana 2012 and it was very sweet and hot. The barrel aging has mellowed the flavour profile as well as introducing some clear pinot notes.

 Soren answers the obvious questions about the name:

“I have been surprised how few people understand the meaning straight away.  It’s not “Bum Eye” as many people seem to think.  It’s BumaYE! as in “Ali, Bumaye!”  Lifted from what was perhaps the most famous boxing match of all times, The Rumble in the Jungle, between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.  The match was fought in Zaire and quite famously (I thought) the locals were all cheering for Ali, chanting “Ali, Bumaye!” which in English means “Ali, Kill Him”.  A fitting name for the most aggressive beer we have made to date.”

Finally, Emerson’s has released an extremely limited number of cork and wire 750ml bottles of their Deafinition range. Three beers were brewed to commemorate 20 years of commercial brewing at Emerson’s and Colin (so far) has obtained two. Noted beer writer and long time friend of Emerson’s Brewery Mr Geoff Griggs wrote:

“Modelled on an English-style strong ale, Emerson’s Deafinition Old Ale (7.6%) has much in common with one of the brewery’s previous beers, Emerson’s Old 95.  Brewed in October 2012 the new beer’s resiny hop bitterness and toffeeish malt character are starting to soften as the familiar tangy, dried fruit (apricot?) esters emerge.”

“The second beer is Emerson’s Deafinition Imperial Porter (10.5%).  An all-new beer brewed in October 2011, it is comparatively austere in body, with plenty of alcoholic warmth alongside tannic dark chocolate and raisiny fruit notes leading to a lingering bitter finish.”

Next time, we drink to the GCSB who are undoubtedly reading this just as they read every other blog, every on-line forum, every text and every email.  Because they totally have the resources and the motivation to do all that…

[1] With the exception of the 358 episode of Sharpe, Sean Bean has a poor track record of surviving to the end of films.  That is probably why he was the first choice for Boromir in Lord of the Rings. 

[2] Opinion is divided on whether Tyrion is really the best character.  Everyone who says he is not is wrong.

[3] Consequently, the beheading of Ned and the carnage of the Red Wedding did not make them almost fall of their armchair in awe – that was just me apparently. 

[4] Nixon compulsively taped virtually every conversation in his office.  When the transcripts were finally released publicly, all bad language was replaced with the note [expletive deleted]. Those words appeared frequently as Nixon made Gordon Ramsay look like Kermit the Frog.

[5] Bramble is a British term for a blackberry bush. 


Beer Writer
Beer and Brewer Magazine


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