Colin the Handsome the Yet Softly Spoken Scottish Malthouse Proprietor going “a bit retro” but all the punters who have seen his Moses beard, Mao Zedong caps, The Who paisley shirts and Bay City Rollers tight trousers will know Col has always been just a little bit retro. [1]

However, for once this blog post is not about grooming, fashion, politics or even professional wrestling. [2] Back on tap, from around 4pm Friday, for the first time in forever [3] is the legendary Gisborne Gold Lager (5%), known by anyone with even a skerrick of awesomeness as Gizzy Gold.

 It was one of New Zealand’s first modern craft beers, was an early pioneer in an ocean of beery mediocrity and was the first true Kiwi craft brew to be poured at the original Malthouse on Willis Street.

Over nearly quarter of a century owners Geoff Logan and Gerry Maude laid down 1665 brews, produced 3.75 million litres of beer and filled around 4 million bottles at the Sunshine Brewery in Gisborne. In September last year, they announced the sale of their brewery. 

Here is what I wrote regarding the sale:

“On his Facebook page, Geoff wrote “we have decided it was time to let new owners take the brewery and its beers up to new levels…  The new owners all have a long and successful history in the wine, beer and spirits industry and will use their combined knowledge to grow Gisborne’s own craft brewery (one of the longest-standing in NZ) into the national icon it deserves to be. In fact, we are so excited about their future plans that we have retained a modest shareholding and will remain involved in the daily operation of the new company, Sunshine Brewery Limited.”

The new owners are Martin Jakicevich and Steve Voysey of Gisborne, industry figure Philip Shepherd and Vintners NZ Ltd owner Mark Young.  They have plans to expand production though the intent is to continue to brew the existing beers to the existing recipes in Gisborne.” 

Over a decade ago Gisborne Gold was the first Kiwi craft beer served on tap at Malthouse and, at the time, this caused quite a stir with the big breweries and distribution companies. Gizzy Gold is well crafted lager – dry, grassy with a distinctive mineral note. 

It is a simpler beer, from a more civilised age. Geoff Logan is easily one of the nicest and most modest guys you will ever meet and I was delighted to talk to him when he was inducted into the Beer and Brewer Hall of Fame. Here are extracts from that marvellously well written article:

“I had the pleasure of conducting a long interview with Geoff Logan in early 2012 when I was writing an article about him for the Beer and Brewer Hall of Fame.  After getting over his bemusement that anyone would want to write about him far less put him in a Hall of Fame, Geoff was a fantastic subject.  Here are a couple of highlights from the article (not on line):

When asked what it was like being at the vanguard of craft brewing in New Zealand, Geoff pauses before saying it was “exciting but tough.  Our whole intention was to be a regional brewer and we became involved in the beginnings of the craft movement more by accident than design. I remember back then everyone talked to each other, everyone was pretty open about suppliers and market dynamics. We had a common cause – to raise the standard of beer in this country by brewing good beer consistently and educating the Kiwi punter about what we were doing.”

The unofficial Sunshine motto is “brew a better beer and the world will beat a pathway to your door” but it was not always that easy. Geoff says the “locals were initially sceptical and we were a bit ahead of our time I guess.  We wanted to make naturally produced beers in a famous brewing region which had been without a brewery for almost thirty years.  We felt we should be able to take care of our own. The way to impress the locals was to take beer back to its principles, make it properly and do a good job. Our beers broke into the Wellington market early which bought us some time back home. For a while, two-thirds of our production was drunk in Wellington.” Always quick to smile, laugh and pour a glass, Geoff is a popular figure in the New Zealand brewing scene.

I for one will be sinking a few pints of classic Gizzy Gold at Malty while wearing a plaid shirt, rocking a mullet, [4] listening to The Dance Exponents, voting for Dan Quayle and marvelling at Jeff Wilson’s magnificent mane of hair.  None of those have really lasted as well as Gisborne Gold has, though the Exponents still exist in the exact same way that Goldie’s hair does not.  Ah, nostalgia – not what it used to be.

Reluctantly returning to 2014, our good friend Mike Neilson from Panhead brewery has released Panhead Saison (5.2%).  It was initially created as a popular festive beer at the Greater Wellington Brewday in Martinborough. This highly successful event invited local breweries to create beers around the theme of “the Summer of Saison” beer theme.  Sadly, this produced a baffling number of Black Saisons which are about as pointless as Seven Sharp interviewing One Direction on a poor Skype connection. The Panhead version has the traditional funk and barnyard notes [5] but also a blast of local hops as a twist.

Last week I was potentially a bit harsh on ParrotDog Clipped Wing (3.5%), a responsible mid-strength “mini American Pale Ale” which I claimed to “have only a passing acquaintance with.”  My fellow Americans, I was not entirely honest with you regarding my relationship with “that beer.”  I’ve enjoyed it on quite a number of occasions, sometimes at my desk, and it was unfair and untrue to suggest that I barely knew ClippedWing simply because of the lower alcohol content. 

In fact, I actually went to the ClippedWing launch at a bar called Laundry on Cuba Street.  When I inquired as to its exact location, I was told the establishment was in the old building which used to be a commercial laundry. [6] ClippedWing is a surprisingly full-flavoured hoppy beer with notes of citrus, grapefruit, honey and a biscuity malt base. Furthermore, belated congratulations to the Matts from ParrotDog on 100 brews in their Vivian Street facility – more equipment is going in all the time as the enterprise continues to flourish. I should note that if you ever stop making BitterBitch I know where you all work…

Speaking of hops, as I do from time to time, Hopstock will hit Wellington from 23 – 26 April 2014. This is the now annual celebration of fresh picked Nelson hops and green hopped beers which takes place across the Craft Beer Capital of New Zealand. The organisers of Hopstock (Twitter: #hopstock) have announced that “this time we’ve got double the brews that we had last year – that’s 16 fresh hop beers from across New Zealand.” Malthouse has been paired with the certified organic Peak Brewery who will be using their home grown hops. There will be more details on Peak’s special Hopstock beer next week. [7]

Speaking of speaking, as I do from time to time, I’ll be heading down to Christchurch to captain the beer team in a Grape versus Grain comedy debate. At 7pm on 26 March two teams will be debating “the Grape is good but the Grain is great” at The Tannery Woolston in Christchurch. Tickets are $25 from The Brewery, Gustav’s, CBD and Volstead. I will be making the controversial argument that beer is great and much better than wine. This may be the greatest test of my debating skills in many a year.

Next time, we drink to David Shearer who should be quietly raising a pint and saying “See, told you it wasn’t that easy…”  

[1] Punters and staff who have listened to the play lists at his various establishments will know that Colin seemingly believes that popular music peaked with Hootie and the freaking Blowfish and that every fourth song in history was performed by Johnny Cash.

[2] However, an impressive number of readers have called for more pro-wrestling related content in this blog.  The peeps have spoken. In unrelated news, kazoos rule.

[3] As a qualified and skilled historian, I can confirm this is a real unit of measurement albeit one mainly used by university students, Fox News and John Campbell.

[4] “Business at the front, party out the back” and “the calm before the storm, baby.”

[5] For this particular style, those are desirable characteristics.  There are few other instances when they are.

[6] So, not just a clever name then.  Who would have thought a business on Cuba Street charging locals to wash their clothes would struggle commercially?

[7] Assuming you don’t have a working connection to the internet and the ability to use a search engine…


Neil Miller
Beer Writer
Beer and Brewer Magazine
Cuisine Magazine


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