First, a disclaimer – when I started beer writing years ago I was sceptical whether the glass you drank out of actually made much of a difference. Obviously, it was infinitely preferable to quaff fine beer from a glass than simply neck a bottle but beyond that I initially thought all glasses were much of a muchness. As quickly became obvious, I was wrong. [1] The first to truly educate me was Chef Martin Bosley when we started using Riedel stemmed wine glasses for beer and food matching sessions. They were amazing. [2]

These Spiegelau IPA glasses are the next generation and designed not just for beer but for the very best beer style – India Pale Ale. Jules, a long time Malthouse blog reader and contributor to one of the first Malthouse People’s Blogs, bought along two of these space age glasses which I had duty manager and Acting Colin, Ciaran, fill with ale. [3] He had Tuatara APA because he was driving and I had Ben Middlemiss Lunatic Soup IPA simply because I could.

Here is the official spiel about the glasses and their development:

“In collaboration with two of the leading IPA brewers in the United States, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head [4] and Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada, [5] Spiegelau has created the new standard for IPA beer glassware. Achieved through a series of design and tasting workshops in which hundreds of possible designs were considered, the brewers ultimately and unanimously chose, by secret vote, one glass – ‘number 6’ – from a final lineup of eight custom-made prototypes. Designed to showcase the complex and alluring aromatic profiles of American “hop-forward” IPA beers, preserve a frothy head, enhance taste and mouthfeel, and present a comfortably wide opening for the drinker to savour each beer, Spiegelau’s latest design is the go-to vessel for enjoying IPA. The breweries and donating their portion of the proceeds from this collaboration to benefit advances in hop research.” [6]

They have some converts. Joe Wood of Liberty Brewing is a fan. He has been wrong only once before and that was the time he thought was mistaken. New Zealand Beer Writer of Year Michael Donaldson reported on testing the glasses with the Impish Brewer:

“Luke Nicholas, being a super-cynic and me being a journalist (that is to say a super-cynic) wondered if they were the beer world’s equivalent of Powerband bracelets. We sampled some Epic Armageddon in about eight different glasses ranging from water glasses, through white wine, red wine, tulip, pint, schooner … up to the fancy new IPA glass. I stand before you today a convert. This glass gives you a better drinking experience. My personal view is that the ribbed stem causes the beer to fizz up every time you lift it to drink, putting a new head on top of the remaining beer that acts like a sealant, keeping it fresher and more aromatic for longer. There are other aspects like the thin glass [7] keeping the beer colder for longer and a just-right circumference. For hop heads, the sensory experience was improved. The glasses were making a difference, but it’s probably going to take a physicist to tell us why.”

The beer I chose as my first tipple out of these ground breaking goblets was Ben Middlemiss Lunatic Soup IPA (6.5%). I chose it for a few reasons: Ben Middlemiss is a national brewing treasure, this beer is hard to find, it’s a great IPA, Lunatic Soup is just such a great name, [8] and I was interested to see how this controversially cloudy brew looked and tasted in the IPA glass. It turns out that I will – yet again – agree with Michael Donaldson. The glass seemed to help lift the IPA but I’ll be damned if I can precisely isolate how and why.

Interestingly, several commentators on-line have noted that the glasses may also highlight faults in exactly the same way. That won’t be beneficial for the drinkers of those particular beers but it may push brewers towards making better beers overall.

There were a couple of interesting imported pale ales on tap at Malthouse which tempted me but in the end I chose to be patriotic. Beers from BrewDog – easily my favourite collective of Scottish brewing madmen – are becoming increasingly available after the deal with Independent Liquor and Malthouse will have a tap for these beers made by their distant kin. My favourite is BrewDog Hardcore (9%), a hoppy brew as subtle as a Glasgow Kiss but much more enjoyable. For those who struggle with such assertive Scottishness – probably English people and Aucklanders – BrewDog Punk (6%) is almost disappointingly balanced though it has a late punchiness. [9]

I was also tempted by Pyramid Outburst Imperial IPA (8.5%) which I found out subsequently had 94 ranking at RateBeer. However, I was mainly attracted by the fact it was an Imperial IPA and had a freaking pyramid on top of the tap handle. At 80 IBU and making generous use of Chinook, Falconers Flight and Zythos hops it certainly ticks all the right hieroglyphics for me.

From our award nominated birthday news desk, the Yeastie Boys have turned five and they are making “a big song and dance about it” by publishing a zine. [10] It was edited by Fritha, a self-described “a non-beery muggle” and contains many gems of wisdom along with a lot of weird prose and strange photoshopping. Copies are available at many venues around town and probably on the internet at some stage. Here are the highlights:

Stu McKinlay:“In the beginning we complained a lot about big breweries and bland beer. In the beginning there was only The Malthouse, which probably had a better balcony than beer selection. It was certainly a good place to sit with a Hopsmacker [11] in the afternoon sun. There was also the miniscule Bar Bodega, which had Owd Jim and a few Belgian ales that are now in every second corner dairy. [12] We saw some great gigs at Bodega and realised, there, that this thing we now call ‘craft beer’ was most certainly rock ‘n’ roll. They bulldozed Bodega for a motorway, so that I could get to work 18 seconds fasters. So it goes.”

Sam Possenniskie explaining why he did not have time to contribute: “I’m sure whatever you come up with will be fine.”

Stu: “Five years ago Sam and I flew into Queenstown, hired a champagne pink hatchback, and drove to Invercargill to brew Pot Kettle Black with our friend Steve Nally. There was no business plan, simply a desire to brew 50 times what I could brew on my deck. Sam and I were always searching for something new, so why not make it ourselves, the beers we wished someone else would.”

Sam contributing the single best line of the zine: “We live in a world so dull that some guy wearing a pair of red pants can suddenly get famous for being the guy who wears red pants.” [13]

Stu: “We’ve probably done it all wrong, according to the experts of beer and business, but we’ve always started things by first asking ‘why not?” And, in our world, ‘Rheinheitsgebot’ is not a valid answer. Our minds are more open now than they were when we started.”

You have not truly lived until you have seen an unconvincingly photoshopped bear playing a giant bottle of Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black like a guitar

This is probably a useful point to note that Malthouse currently has the intriguingly pointless tea beer Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta (6.66%) in bottle, Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black (6%), which was apparently brewed to prove a point to me, on tap and the gloriously polarising Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude (7%) whisky malt mindbender in the fridge.

Next time, we drink to Kim Dotcom – because it takes a bold man to even think of starting a political party when he is not even eligible to stand for Parliament. Section 47 (1) of the Electoral Act reasonably requires a person has to be a citizen to even be a candidate. Kim, good luck with the “good character” part of the citizenship application. I’m not sure it is written down anywhere but I think you must have less than three active international warrants out for your arrest to even be considered…

[1] Other errors include, but are not limited to, “Wellington cricket is on the rise”, “that’s the last we will see of Winston Peters”, “Justin Bieber is just a passing fad” and “George Lucas would never sell Star Wars to Mickey Mouse”.
[2] This was confirmed by a small number of punters at the first couple of sessions who liked the glasses so much they took them home from Beervana.
[3] Malthouse wishes to dispel the internet rumours that Ciaran is either Kian Egan from Irish boy band Westlife in the Witness Protection Programme and/or Duncan the Turkey’s manager on the run after embezzling his client’s winnings from the Eurovision Song Contest. Did I say dispel? I may have meant “start”…
[4] Literally the pin-up boy of craft beer.
[5] The one hippy I truly respect.
[6] Not sure if this makes every drink from the glass a tax-deductible charitable donation but I will let the Inland Revenue Department sort that one out.
[7] The very first thing Ciaran from Westlife/Duncan the Turkey Inc said to me when I passed over the glasses was “these are really thin.” The next comments of Robert the Regular regarding the glassware were not really suitable for a family blog like this. Jules assures me the glass is surprisingly strong – at least for home use.
[8] I was running late for a drink with a friend recently so I texted ahead my drinks order of a Lunatic Soup. The reply – “Is that a real thing?”
[9] A bit like Partick Thistle Football Club but probably better at soccer.

[10] A zine is like a small magazine but much cooler.
[11] Limburg Hopsmacker – perhaps the first modern New Zealand Pale Ale. It was made by Father Chris O’Leary who is now brewing at Emerson’s.
[12] Not for long thanks to Geoffrey Palmer, Doug Sellman and a slim majority of Parliament.
[13] It is subtle but this is probably a reference to Yeastie Boys co-founder Stu and his penchant for perky pants.


Neil Miller
Beer Writer
Beer and Brewer Magazine


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