the prestigious Brewing Awards dinner and, of course, Beervana itself.  This atypical prescience makes it all the more inexplicable that I scheduled a whole day meeting slap band in the middle on Wednesday. 

My judgement looked even worse when Road to Beervana was launched.  The days leading up to Beervana have always unofficially been called ‘Beervana Week’ as bars, brewers and eateries understandably looked to tempt the hordes of voracious craft beer drinkers who descend on Wellington at this time of the year. 

Now, the good people at Beervana, Neat Places and Craft Beer Capital have taken the concept to the next level by packaging it up as the Road to Beervana event and creating a funky guide to the many attractions.  It covers all the events run between 17 and 24 August and even has a map for people who cannot navigate between craft beer venues by sense of smell like I can. [1]    

Just when you thought next week could not get any humongous, it just did.  Malthouse will be hosting a full week celebration of their 21st birthday with what Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken [2] Scottish Proprietor describes as possibly their “most spectacular tap line-up.  Some of the beers are ones that have been made specifically for our birthday.” 

Although it is not in the on-line or indeed print version of the newspaper story about the Malthouse’s 21st, I am reliably informed that when the interview finished Colin then performed The Rarely Seen Highland Sword Dance of Glee. [3] I do need to cut this introduction short – by my standards – but I must note this amazing statistic: since opening, Malthouse has served nearly three million pints in forty eight beer glasses. 

Here Part Two of a “Partial Preview of Some of the Beers which will be Available at Malthouse Next week”, including a number birthday beers made just for Malty’s 21st.  I won’t have tried most of them so there will not be any tasting notes per se, only my usual biased predictions:

Tuatara Lapsang Suchong Barrel Aged Stout 9%. [4] Now, I’m no believer in conspiracy theories [5] but this makes me pause.  Was the world really crying out for another tea beer, a style I enjoy as much as fruit beers and Flame Lager?  Apparently yes, with sales of Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta and soon to be Minimatta demonstrating Kiwis do indeed want tea in their ale.  So, Tuatara looks to have found a funky tea and made it more funktastic with a little barrel aging.

Hallertau Funkonnay.  On the topic of bringing the funk, Hallertau Brewbar loves flavours that other brewers take out restraining orders against.  It is either a sour beer or a Serbian beer, depending on who is explaining it to you.  I certainly can’t explain it.  Funkonnay has spent over two years in oak chardonnay barrels and the brewers identify notes of sour, oak, grape and tutti frutti.

Moa Sour Blanc 2012. Move over Serbia, here comes even more sour beer.  I think the battle to become the next big beer thing in New Zealand will be a straight fight between sour beer and session-strength pale ales.  Moa Sour Blanc is based on their base Blanc wheat beer recipe but it gets a dose of wild yeast and plenty of time in wine barrels.  Sour but not too sour seems to be the consensus.

Good George Berliner Weisse.  Berliner Weisse beers are pretty funky too I guess.  Made with a distinctive combination of warm-fermenting yeasts and the always delicious sounding lactobacillus culture, Beer Advocate describes this style as “refreshing, tart, sour and acid, with a lemony-citric fruit sharpness and almost no hop bitterness.”

Croucher Brett Barrel Aged Vicar’s Vice. Initially brewed as a homage to the classic Verboden Vrucht (Forbidden Fruit) from Hoegaarden, the “basic” [6] version already uses a mix of citrus peel (orange, lemon and grapefruit) along with the signature crushed coriander seeds.  Last year, Croucher filled several barrels containing Brettanomyces with this beer and left Mother Nature to take its course.  Calling this beer ‘complex’ would be an understatement.

We now leave the beers which are described by words such as “sour”, “tart”, “spritzy”, “acid”, “funky” and “like a bat whizzing in mouth” and move to the beers which are described by words such as “fruity”, “hoppy”, “grapefruit”, “quenching”, “bitter” and “like snogging an angel”.  In other words, it is pale ale time.

Liberty IPL. This beer has no on-line presence (yet) so I had to resort to text messages.  Brewer Joe Wood told me “It’s a one off brew for Malthouse’s 21st birthday.  Basically it is an IPA fermented with lager yeast.  I used New Zealand hops in the kettle and US hops in the fermenter.  I made it on ye olde 300 litre Liberty Brewery.  It is a good beer.”  There you have it.  This may well be a scoop!

Fork Brewing/Ben Middlemiss Discombobulation 9%. I was there the day this collaboration beer was conceived and visited frequently during its often difficult gestation in the tanks at the Fork & Brewer. [7] The final product is deceptively drinkable, huge hop forward flavours (fruit salad, dried orange) and lingering bitterness. 

Renaissance Bloody RIPA.  A worthy winner of this year’s West Coast IPA Challenge, this balanced beer really does combine the best of both worlds.  There is caramel in the nose and firm malt spine, but there are plenty of citrus and spicy notes from a more than generous hopping.  The best Red IPA I have tasted in years.

4 Horsemen of the Hopocalypse 2013.  When you put Steve Plowman (Hallertau), Joe Wood (Liberty), Luke Nicholas (Epic) and Kelly Ryan (then Good George, now Fork & Brewer) in a room what could possibly go wrong?  Wait, that is a really stupid question and the answer is “a lot”.  However, put them in a brewery and the result is the 4 Horsemen of the Hopocalypse Triple IPA.  Let it run wild over your tastebuds.

Everything kicks off at noon on Monday 18 August and comes to an end probably sometime early morning on Monday 25 August.

Next time, we drink to Stuart Broad, the English batsman who had his nose broken by a bouncer a week ago but looks set to return.  Well played Draco Malfoy, [8] well played.

[1] Conversely, I recently got lost on the Westpac Stadium concourse which is circular and has only one entry/exit point.

[2] Softly spoken, aye, though not necessarily easy to understand for many Kiwis.  He was recently reported as predicting “Serbian beers” could be the next big thing though he claims he said “sour beers” and the reporter could not crack his accent.

[3] I am hoping he is too busy to proof read this part before posting.  Then this phrase will be forever tied to his name by the near unlimited power of Google.

[4] Probably.  Check your server for details.

[5] Unlike some in the news…

[6] Note the clever use of quotation marks to indicate irony.

[7] Disclaimer: I own around three square feet of the Fork & Brewer.

[8] Once you note the uncanny resemblance you can never unsee it.


Neil Miller
Beer Writer
Beer and Brewer Magazine
Cuisine Magazine


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