I can honestly say I never managed to watch an entire episode. In fact, I usually struggled to endure an entire commercial for it. This show, while hugely popular and critically acclaimed, simply produced a immediate visceral negative reaction in me. I have similar allergic responses to “‘Allo ‘Allo”, [2] “Father Ted”, [3] and the “Vicar of Dibley.” [4]

Now, I’m no comedy snob. I chortle endlessly at the often juvenile humour of “American Dad”, “Family Guy” and “Game of Two Halves”. Heck, I even burst out laughing watching every Steven Seagal movie, all episodes of “Blake’s 7” and the entire collection of Kim Dotcom interviews, though I’m pretty sure only two of those franchises were meant to be funny.

So, when I heard there was a brewery called Summer Wine from Yorkshire, a shire which sometimes has a reputation for being a bit dour and antediluvian, my expectations were not necessarily high. Images of flat caps, woolly scarves and one-line in-jokes that could run for decades sprang to mind.

I was wrong – Summer Wine brewery and its range of beers are every bit as flash, modern and innovative as their decidedly good looking website. I probably would never have tried their beers, or even heard of them, if it had not been for the marvellous folks at Beertique, a beer importer which brings over British beers and ciders directly in cold transport. [5]

Beertique is the creation of Phil Dale and Melissa Dale. In 2012, they spotted an opportunity to bring over British beers, which can be poor travellers at times, and showcase them at their best to New Zealand’s growing number of craft beer enthusiasts. Phil used his UK knowledge and they steadily built up their British portfolio which also includes Thornbridge, Timothy Taylor and Wild Beers, all of which have made regular appearance at Malthouse.

Describing their beers as “flavour forward” and “avant-garde,” [6] Summer Wine promises beers that are “unfiltered, unpasteurised and unadulterated.” If you think I am just being mean about Yorkshire again, and I concede I have some form in this area, Summer Wine actually agree with my assumptions. They argue passionately about changing the stereotypical view of beer from their county saying:

“Yorkshire largely has a traditional ethos when it comes to beer, one which no doubt has its place. However, our ethos is different, we plan to put Yorkshire beer on the map in a different way, by brewing avant-garde beers that make people think twice about what they have accepted as the standard when it comes to beer. We plan to tear up the rule book & brew beers that demand you sit up & take note by shaking up your senses and thus redefining how Yorkshire beer is perceived.”

Founded commercially in 2008 and enjoying strong growth since then, Summer Wine proudly produces a diverse and ever changing range of beers. Malthouse has procured four and here is a preview of what to expect.

First up is a style making a bit of a comeback after it was almost wiped out in the lager revolution. Summer Wine Mokko Milk Stout (6%) is a creamy, very sweet beer with a bite of lactic. It uses traditional East Kent Goldings hops and very non-traditional Californian yeast. Mokko appears to be a limited edition brew.

Part of the regular rotation is Summer Wine Oregon Pale Ale (5.5%) which weighs in at 55 IBUs. Light and bright in the glass, this beer is all about showing Cascade hops with notes of orange and pine. It finishes with a soft, beautiful finish which seems to gently mock that high bitterness rating. A fine summer quaffer.

While Summer Wine Sabretooth IPA (6.9%) officially has the same bitterness as Oregon (55 IBUs), it is much less subtle and much more up in your face. The use of Columbus and Summit hops produces a fat beer, sweet caramel in the middle and lashings of grapefruit in the fulsome nose and lingering finish.

Finally, there is a Holmfirth Hop Bomb [7] called Summer Wine Maelstrom Double IPA (9%). Maelstrom seems an apt moniker as this beer contains flurries of Columbus, Centennial and Simcoe hops. The result is predictably a sticky, almost resinous beer with a huge nose and mouth-drying bitterness. It is, equally predictably, my pick of the bunch though Maelstrom will clearly not be to everyone’s taste.

This is the last Malthouse blog for 2015 so it is time for our Christmas annual tradition.

No, not my much anticipated Top Ten New Zealand Beers of the Year – the world will have to wait for the first blog of the New Year for that rollercoaster ride. Rather, it is time to confirm Malthouse’s Festive Season hours. [8]

Malthouse will close at 11pm on Christmas Eve and remain closed for Christmas Day. On Boxing Day they will open at 3pm until late. 27 and 28 December see a noon opening while the doors open at 3pm on 29, 30 and 31 December. Malthouse will be closed on New Year’s Day (as is pretty much everything in Wellington it seems), before opening at 3pm on 2 January and 12pm for 3 and 4 January. After that it is back to normal – 3pm opening on Mondays and Tuesdays, noon for the rest of the week.

Next time, we drink to the late Phillip Hughes. He truly was a little Aussie battler in the best sense of all of those words. #putyourbatsout 

Finally, I would like take this opportunity to thank readers for their comments, corrections and suggestions on the 2014 edition of the Malthouse blog. They are truly appreciated and hopefully 2015 will be an even bigger year. I’d like to wish all Malthouse staff, suppliers and customers the very best for the festive season and cheers to a wonderful New Year.

[1] Today’s Fun Fact: This is the 290th Malthouse Blog. In early February 2015, this blog will overtake “The Last of the Summer Wine” in terms of episodes published, if not in viewership or, more importantly, in royalties.

[2] The same three jokes in a slightly different order each week. The late Benny Hill would have considered “‘Allo ‘Allo” to be formulaic and shallow.

[3] Because priests acting slightly naughty never gets old – apparently… for some people…

[4] This entire show can be summed up as “I used to be in French and Saunders but now I’m playing a vicar – who is a woman! Isn’t that hilarious and anti-establishment?” For those playing at home, the answer is “no.”

[5] Not to mention their growing New Zealand portfolio including Weezledog, Lakeman, Fiasco, Golden Eagle, Brew Mountain and North End breweries.

[6] Not a phrase employed often in Yorkshire, mind…

[7] Holmfirth in West Yorkshire is where this brewery is located so this reference is actually far more clever than it may first appear. I am however surprised my spellchecker recognised Holmfirth when it struggles with other English terms like “flavour” and “authorised”.

[8] You can’t really call them “holiday season” hours as they precisely indicate when the bar staff are actually working. Be sure to buy Malthouse’s hard working staff, softly spoken management and diligent blogger a drink or two for Christmas.


Neil Miller
Beer Writer
Beer and Brewer Magazine
Cuisine Magazine
TheShout Magazine
New Zealand Liquor News Magazine


Beertique – http://www.beertique.co.nz/
Summer Wine Brewery – http://www.summerwinebrewery.co.uk
Malthouse Facebook – www.facebook.com/pages/Malthouse/7084276173
Malthouse Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/malthouse
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Neil Miller on Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/#!/beerlytweeting