Primarily, this unusual state of affairs is because Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish Malthouse Proprietor gave me a long list of Pale Ales, India Pale Ales and Double India Pale Ales to write about.  Either that or it was my belated recognition that the sooner I finish this blog the sooner it will be Beer O’Clock. [1]

This week’s appetising selection of pale ales is a mix of new brews and established Malthouse (and Malthouse Blog) favourites.  First up is 8 Wired HopWired IPA (7.3%).  The former Champion Brewery of New Zealand has recently moved from Blenheim to Auckland for commercial and family reasons.  While the downside is that they will have to live in Auckland, the upside for consumers is that production will expand dramatically.

Brewer, champion poker player and all-round Renaissance Man Soren Eriksen says he’s “pretty sure” 8 Wired HopWired IPA was “the first bottled new world India Pale Ale made with New Zealand grown pale ale malt and 100% unique New Zealand hops.”  Those unique Kiwi hops are (usually) Southern Cross, Motueka and Nelson Sauvin. 

The resulting 70 IBU IPA pours a burnished orange with a huge nose of grapefruit, peach, grass and pine.  I’ve previously described the flavours as a “veritable pyramid of hoppy goodness” and I stand by that.  This HopWired flavour pyramid is constructed with bricks of grapefruit, passionfruit, orange and lime.  The foundations are a solid caramel malt backbone and the entire structure is decorated with motifs of grass and pine. [2] While technically intensely bitter, HopWired has a distinctly hoppy finish but is really quite smooth and dangerously drinkable.  It has made regular appearances on my popular yet controversial Top Ten Kiwi Beers of the Year list.

Epic Armageddon IPA (6.66%) was a ground-breaking beer when it was launched as Kiwi drinkers were only starting to get their palates around the staggering amount of hops that the Impish Brewer Luke Nicholas was using.  I actually gave this beer its name during a beer tasting at the Backbencher many years ago.  Luke was talking about all people clamouring for a beer even hoppier and bigger than Epic Mayhem. He had the beer ready but needed a catchy name.

He turned to me and, put on the spot, i blurted out a moment of genius – “Armageddon is bigger than Mayhem – Armageddon is bigger than everything.”  I also came up with the phrase “zymurgical big bang” which appears on the bottle. I’m probably more proud of that little phrase because it is accurate and surprisingly clever, even if my spell checker still hates it… 

Roger Protz, in his brewing bodice ripper of a book 300 More Beers to Try Before You Die, described Epic Armageddon thusly: 

“The pale copper-coloured beer has an enormous blast of lemon and grapefruit on the nose from the hops along with hop resins and slightly toasted/oatmeal malt.  Bittersweet fruit, oatcakes and massive, iodine-like hop bitterness coat the mouth while the finish is long and complex, with tangy fruit, bitter and biscuit malt vying for attention.”

I’m pleased to confirm that I have received eye-witness reports that Swedish drinkers are totally loving Armageddon after it secured a coveted export deal with the state-run liquor distributors over there. [3]

Rocky Knob Snapperhead (7.4%) was the star of the last blog post.  I am quite surprised it is still available as I thought I’d finished it all off the other night.  Colin must have cunningly concealed an extra keg without my knowledge.  I’m disappointed that I could not locate it by sense of smell alone…

Snapperhead is packed with Citra and Nelson Sauvin hops.  Brewer Stu Marshall describes Snapperhead as “well balanced” (yes), “a big fun beer” (oh yes) and a crowd favourite for many years” (I can see why).  However I’m less sure about the claim that it is “sessionable”.  This is a strong contender for my annual Top Ten Beer List but it should be approached responsibly.

This next beer I have not tried but it has some serious pedigree and strong reviews on-line.  Brew Mountain Pale Pat Supreme (4.6%) is the first offering from the new Brew Mountain Brewery in Taranaki (“in the shadow of the mountain” allegedly).  It is the creation of Shannon Ryan and Dr Liam Tranter (a local GP).  They had some expert help from Shannon’s brewing Rockstar brother Kelly Ryan during the early days before Kel was lured to Wellington to work at some place called the Fork & Brewer.

Their debut commercial beer is named after Shannon and Kelly’s dad, the late Pat Ryan.  Pat was a boxer in the 1972 Munich Olympics.  The brewers describe the beer in these words:

“New Zealand’s finest malted barley and a combination of New Zealand and American hops come together to create this delightful golden pale ale.  Tropical fruit and grapefruit aromatics, a full malty body and a crisp, clean finish make this the perfect drop to drink in the shadow of the mountain.” [4]

Another new beer is Libertau Haterade Double IPA (8.5%).  Libertau is not actually a new brewery but a new brand for collaborations between Hallertau Brewbar and Liberty Brewing Company.  Given they are collocated in the same Riverhead facility it could be argued that virtually every beer is a collaboration between Stephen Plowman (“the naked epicurean”) and Jo Wood (“one of the top two brewing bogans in the land”).

In the interests of journalism, I braved the feral and often disturbing depths of the famous “Urban Dictionary” website to find the origins of the term Haterade.  Here are three definitions fit for public consumption (with corrected spelling): 

“A figurative drink to re-energise chronic haters.”

“A fictional beverage, parodying the popular sports drink ‘Gatorade’, purportedly consumed by individuals who are jealous of others, supposedly fuelling their ability to be jealous of, or ‘hate on’, others.”

“A figurative drink representing a modality of thought.  Those who consume it are themselves consumed by the negativity which with they speak.” [5]

Putting aside the fascinating street etymology of the name, the beer is apparently “a sour-ish Double India Pale Ale of immense proportions.  Described as a “beer for jealous types”, Haterade is produced from all New Zealand malt and all American hops and has a whopping big ABV (alcohol by volume) of 8.5%.”

Being about as hip and down with the kids as Laila Harre, I am unsure if I am a Hater, a Player or a Player Hater. Actually, it is probably more likely that I am a Snapperhead.

Also pouring is the beer that helped launch the Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge all those years ago. Hallertau Maximus (5.8%) pours a lightly hazy orange-amber with a short white head.  Now probably in the middle of the hoppy spectrum, there are notes of pine needle, fruit salad, grapefruit and caramel.  It has dropped down in alcohol recently as a growing number of beers seem to be doing. 

Returning to the taps next week is one of my favourite beers of all time and space.  I’ve described Epic Hop Zombie (8.5%) as “a tasty, mouth-watering, knee-buckling, nectarous pint of pure ambrosia.”  It is bitter certainly but balanced, with notes of grapefruit, passionfruit, mango, caramel and happiness.  It was my #1 Kiwi Beer of 2013 but faces a number of strong challenges to keep that hallowed mantle for 2014. Alert readers will find out in late December. [6]

Next time, we drink to my beloved San Francisco Giants who should be baseball’s “World” Series Champions within the week. [7]

[1] After this particular week, Beer O’Clock cannot come fast enough.

[2] This is probably best beer metaphor I’ve ever written.

[3] I’d trust the Government to organise the distribution and sale of all alcohol.  Yeah, right.

[4] It appears to be compulsory to mention “the mountain” or the “shadow of the mountain” if you talk about the Taranaki province for more than 17 seconds.

[5] “A modality of thought”?  This seemed entirely too clever

[6] Or whenever I get round to writing it.

[7] Open to every baseball team in the world providing they are an official Major League Baseball franchise domiciled in the United States of America or two selected bits of Canada.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer of the Year 2014

Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cuisine Magazine 

TheShout Magazine

New Zealand Liquor News Magazine


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