The title is inspired by [1] the book “Profiles in Courage” written by [2] future American President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The format is deceptively simple – I sit down with a Malthouse staff member and, over the course of a few beers, ask them some searching questions.

First up is Ciaran Duffy, Unit Manager at Malthouse.

How long have you been working at the Malty?

“In less than two weeks time it will three years.”

How long have you been involved in the hospitality industry?

“I got my first bar job at age 15, as a glassie in a small town fisherman’s pub in Ireland. I worked there for about two years, progressing to being a bartender. At 18 I moved away to go to university where I studied applied social studies and social care. It was basically the foundation qualification to become a care giver. At the time I had thought about working in addiction treatment for alcohol or heroin. My interest was in music therapy and art therapy – using art or music to help people with their addictions.

That fell apart when I could not handle university life. While studying I had worked part time in a supermarket so I turned that into a full time supermarket management job for two years. I was managing in the Irish equivalent of a New World and my favourite section to run was the beer section.

Then I went travelling. Starting in Boston I took the railway to New York, Washington DC, Alabama and New Orleans. Next I rented a car and drove down to Memphis then to Nashville. [3] Then it was back on the train to Chicago, San Francisco and San Diego.

After that I flew into Mexico City, spent a couple of days in La Paz, Bolivia before spending six months travelling up and down the west coast of South America, from Colombia to Chile. It might be said that trip got me a couple of questions from border authorities later but I was OK.

I then flew to New Zealand. I’d picked New Zealand because it was not Australia. I also did not think there would be many Irish here. I was quickly proved wrong. My travel partner has also stayed. He got a PhD in physics and runs a bar. We still discuss the finer points of physics because I can still ask him physics questions that he cannot answer.”Where have you lived in New Zealand?

“I’ve always been based in Wellington. The original plan was three months in Wellington, three months in Christchurch, three months in Auckland , three months travelling the country, then off to Australia. The three months in Wellington has turned into three years. Why would you leave Wellington, aye?”

Where have you worked in New Zealand?

“I started on a building site as a labourer to pay the rent. Naturally, I’m a nocturnal person and 7am starts did not suit my habits. So, I started looking for a bar job in Wellington and got turned down by some pretty famous places! “

Why the Malthouse?

“When I first came in my jaw dropped when I saw the fridges. I was “oh my god” which might have helped me get the job. My supermarket in Ireland had an international section with 60 or so beers which were always changing. There were a lot of East European workers so we catered to them. My first ever hoppy pale ale was Sierra Nevada.

I’ve stayed at Malthouse for a few reasons. Obviously, the range of beers is amazing. I’ve learned a lot about beer. There is also a fantastic community of beer people around here. And Colin has been awesome.” [4]

What would be your three “desert island beers”?

“Beavertown Gamma Ray, particularly when it is fresh as feck. [5] Also I’d take Feral Hop Hog and Liberty Yakima Monster.

Of course, that is all very dependent on it being a desert island climate. If it was three ‘frozen tundra island beers’ [6] my list would be Courage Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, ParrotDog Otis Oatmeal Stout and Guinness Foreign Export Stout.”

What are the worst things a customer can do in a bar?

“There are the obvious ones – clicking fingers, waving cash, tapping their card on the bar, reaching over the bar. Something that really annoys me are people who want to try four tasters of beer but order them one at a time so I have to go back and forth. Bar staff have some memory! The same applies to people who order a list of drinks one at a time – ‘I’ll have an APA… and a wine… and another wine… and a vodka…’

Pretty much everything else is water off a duck’s back.”

What are your plans going forward?

“See what happens, aye! I’d love for Malthouse to have an upstairs bar…”

What are two beers on tap right now that people should try?

“Brewaucracy Night Shift – it is similar to something like Rodenbach Grand Cru. It is a double stout blended with 100% Bretted pale ale then conditioned. It was kind of brewed for me. I had the idea of a sour beer festival at Malty a long time ago. The nature of sours and the nature of brewers meant it took a lot of back rubbing to get sours into brewer’s schedules.

I also drink a lot of Tuatara NZ APA.”

Next time, we drink to (Sir) Martin Guptill. Some of us always had faith. [7]

[1] Read: Ripped off from…

[2] Read: Ghost written for…

[3] I’m sure there is a song about this. If not, there should be.

[4] Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor may have walked past at that exact same moment.

[5] This answer has been edited for language to avoid offending delicate readers of this blog

[6] A phrase I’m pretty sure he invented specifically for this interview.

[7] I did not have that faith, thus confirming why I will never be a national cricket selector


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

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