This week, various participants are reporting after effects including pure joy, the flu, an influx of medals, extreme gratitude, being tired and emotional, possible relationship debts to their understanding partners, justified feelings of awesomeness, unjustified feelings of awesomeness, a need to catch up on work and, most worryingly, new lows in perfunctoriness. [1]

Malthouse enjoyed one of their busiest weeks ever with judges, brewers, journalists and punters packing the bar every night. The awkwardly named HOPtathalon showcase proved particularly popular mainly because hops are awesome. Several of those beers, including the Four Horsemen of the Hopocalypse and i of the Zombie are still on tap (for now at least).

While most of the Malthouse crew were at Beervana either pouring beer or drinking beer, [2] for the first time ever I did not attend Beervana. I was down in Nelson where I gave a keynote speech at a craft beer showcase and then won an after dinner debate by successfully negating that New Zealand should ban the production, supply and sale of alcohol. [3] Compared to what happened in Wellington, it was a relatively quiet end to a week where I tried around 80 different beers – almost 50 of which I had not tasted before. [4]

There were a number of notable events. On Tuesday I co-hosted the Fork & Brewer eight course beer degustation dinner and indulgently blogged about it last week on another site (link below). As a counterpoint, it was fascinating to read the meticulously recorded and photographed notes from Chris Park of the New Zealand Style Collective. He is not a beer geek so his comments are particularly interesting in relation to the flavours of the beers and the various beer/food combinations. I heartily recommend his blog post (link below).

Personally, my favourite was the prosciutto wrapped scallop, black pudding and American oak aged pale ale hollandaise matched with Croucher Low Rider. I know, I’m more surprised than anyone that a 3.7% beer got my vote.

On Thursday I met with two of the most important in the entire beer world – Beer and Brewer publisher David Lipman and Beer and Brewer editor Stefanie Collins. [5] We met for a few quiet beersies in the bohemian chic of Goldings Free Dive bar. After separating to get changed into more formal attire, we all attended the New Zealand Beer Awards at the Wellington Town Hall. The main results saw Renaissance Brewing being crowned Champion Brewery of New Zealand and Michael Donaldson recognised as New Zealand Beer Writer of the Year. Both accolades were richly deserved and I’d particularly like to recognise Michael’s book – Beer Nation – as a once in a generation book about Kiwi beer.

One of the benefits of the post-Beervana season is that a number of kegs have remained in the capital, waiting to be consumed and then sent back to their home breweries completely empty. That includes a very rare keg of 8 Wired Saeson (7%), an old world style ale with a new world hop twist. Soren Eriksen has brewed a strong Saison, aged it in chardonnay barrels (from Grove Mill Winery) with brettanomyces (wild yeast) for a year, they dry hopped with Kiwi hops (including Motueka and Kohatu hops). The result is a golden beer with notes of lemon, vanilla, hay and the trademark barnyard/horse blanket nose of brettanomyces.

The Hopinator is truly earning its keep this week with the rather excellent Moa Imperial Stout (10.2%) being poured over chilli and ginger in the chamber. Moa had a rough week with their share price plummeting due to low sales – absolutely the sole fault of their distribution company and nothing to do with alienating large numbers of craft beer drinkers with their marketing strategies – but there is no denying that the Imperial Stout is objectively a fine beer (silky, chocolate, coffee, tobacco) made even more interesting with the last minute infusion of spicy chilli and sharp ginger. It’s one of the best combinations ever concocted in the Malthouse Modus Hopperandus. [6]

Finally, there are two beers from the Hopmonger Brewing Company. It is the brainchild of Edward Valenta, a travelling beer lover and brewer who writes a deeply entertaining blog called The Beer Less Traveled. He brewed his own label beers at the Twisted Hop in Christchurch where he was an assistant brewer.

Hopmonger Yeah Nah Brew (5.8%) is a surprisingly hoppy 50 IBU brown ale. Tom Wilson from Canta magazine said the beer was “like a madman living in a theatre basement, the Yeah-Nah Brew is a combination of genius and shock.” He gave it 4.8 out of 5 because “the genius of this Ale can be enjoyed and fully appreciated by everyone from a Tui-swilling Engineering student to your most hardened beer fanatic.”

Edward stresses he named the beer well before the “yeah nah – no more beersies for you” ad came out but is realistic enough to acknowledge no one will believe that now. Instead, he simply revels in all the free publicity. The beer’s name was almost changed to “Last Call” after his cellphone fell into the mash tun and was destroyed during the making of this beer.

His second offering is Hopmonger Back in Bakula (6.2%) which is a 70 IBU Black IPA. It is a heavily malted beer (including Chocolate Wheat malt and Chocolate malt) but the key characteristic is Australian Stella hops (high alpha acid with pine, floral and aniseed characteristics) which are not used much in New Zealand. Once again, there is rollicking story behind the name. Despite repeated requests from his girlfriend, Edward has steadfastly refused to name any of his beers “I love Aileen”. Instead he named this one after “her favourite show’s protagonist and is as close as she is going to get!” [7]

Next time, we drink to Joe E Lewis who famously said “I distrust camels and anyone else who can go a week without a drink.”

[1] Despite what spell check may say, this is absolutely a real word and I am determined to use it more.
[2] Sometimes both.
[3] I’ve never been more convinced by my own arguments in my entire life.
[4] My definition of a “relatively quiet week” may differ from most.
[5] Even though he is currently overseas, I am contractually obliged to note that Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish Malthouse Proprietor is even more important – at least in the context of my next invoice.

[6] Kieran the barman wanted to stress that he developed this recipe by himself with absolutely no help from anyone else. He may be relying on Colin being overseas (see note 5 above) in areas with no internet coverage (Glasgow).
[7] Those with good taste will be unaware that Scott Bakula starred in Quantum Leap – a show which inexplicably ran for four years. I watched the 2:03 opening credits while researching this article and it felt like a lifetime. I’d rather watch John Campbell interview himself.


Neil Miller
Beer Writer
Beer and Brewer Magazine


Indulgent blog about Fork & Brewer degustation –

Meticulous blog about Fork & Brewer degustation –
8 Wired Brewing –

Moa Beer –
Beer Less Traveled Blog –
Malthouse Facebook –
Malthouse Twitter –!/malthouse
Malthouse Taps on Twitter –!/MalthouseTaps
Neil Miller on Twitter –!/beerlytweeting
Beer and Brewer Magazine –