He is not just the paragon of regular Malty punters, he is considered a key part of the architectural integrity of the entire bar. Mr Conroy is what we call in the trade “a load bearing customer.” Recently, he has been conspicuously absent which has forced Colin the Handsome Yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor to reinforce the roof above his usual table with a gerrymandered construction of ladders, table talkers and used lederhosen.  

Understandably concerned at the unexpected absence of a keystone customer, Colin [1] dispatched this non-descript blogger to track down Mr Conroy and find out what was going on. It proved remarkably easy when Mike answered his cell phone and then answered all my questions. I don’t know why John Campbell makes interviewing people to find out information look so difficult. [2]

As it turned out, Mike was busy training for a good cause – he was getting in shape while learning how to box in order to raise money for suicide prevention. I took the opportunity to pose some Qantas Media Award worthy questions to Mike Conroy:

So, boxing. How on earth did this happen?

“Well, before Christmas I was talking to my friend Michelle about how I was feeling old and fat and unfit at the tender age of 46. She told me she was entering IT Heavy Hitters, an amateur boxing event for IT people [3] where the goal is to raise money for the Key For Life Charitable Trust which is talking about suicide prevention. Last year, there were 529 suicides in this country. In 2014, IT Heavy Hitters raised $30,806 for charity but we are looking to increase that figure this year.

I decided to sign up. Each fighter pays a fee to be involved up front. This year, there are over 100 fighters paying $50 each. On top of that, we are affiliated with a givealittle charity which we sign up to and encourage our friends and families to do the same. There is also a raffle on fight night and in the next week or two I will be approaching local bars and breweries for donations and prizes to be raffled.

Consider this fair warning to all local bars and breweries – if I’ve ever drunk at your place or consumed your beer, I’ll be hitting you up in the next fortnight.”

Are you actually going to hit someone?

“We just had selection night where the fights are made. I am the first reserve for the heavyweight division on my team. If someone pulls out, I’m fighting – which is utterly terrifying.”

Given it is utterly terrifying, why do it?

“Good question. I could have carried on what was I was doing and not taken up the offer. However, I believe that if you don’t challenge yourself there is no real point. Through training I’ve lost 6kgs so far but have another 5-8 kilos to go before I get down to the weight that my trainer wants. Honestly, I feel the best I have in ages and I’d be kicking myself if I did not do this now.

We are currently into Week 9 of a 12 week training regime. During the training, 45 people have lost a combined 183kg (averaging 5.2kg each) with one guy dropping an incredible 17kg so far. Training has gone from 3 hours a week to 9 hours a week. I asked my trainer if it was going to get worse down the home stretch but he just laughed and walked off. That’s a good sign, right? At the moment we have four morning sessions and three evening sessions but I expect that to increase.”

What boxing experience do you bring to ring?

“None. When I was a youngster I did martial arts for a while but that was 30 years and 30 kilos ago. However, at the selection night I received an award for the most improved participant. I got a hoody from the gym and a pair of old gloves signed by all the coaches. It was the coaches who voted for me and it was a beautiful moment. There was dust in my eyes…”

Are you the next Cam Slater?

There is a really long pause…..

“No. I am hoping I wouldn’t be. Our selection process is a more vetted. I think everyone would agree there is a little bit of difference between a professional sportsman and Cameron Slater. I still have my fingers crossed.”

When is fight night and how can people help?

“Fight night is 2 May 2015 at the Indian Centre in Kilbirnie. There are 16 confirmed fights with the possibility of more to come.

People can help by contributing to my givealittle page, they can buy a ticket to the event which is going to be loud and fun, and bars and breweries of my acquaintance can donate prizes – vouchers or tabs, something like that. I am of course confident that Colin will make a generous donation on behalf of the Malthouse.”

One thing you have in common with Cameron Slater is that you have now started blogging. What prompted that?

“I was relating a boxing training incident to a friend who could not stop laughing and said I had to write it down. My beloved was also encouraging me to write, but probably just to get me to shut up about boxing. As a result, my blog “Nutty the Angry Squirrel – from Angry Rodent to Fighter” was created and is going well.

I am really enjoying blogging. I do like to write and to entertain people. There is some serious stuff inside there but overall I want to amuse and entertain. And so far people seem to be amused and entertained.” [4]

That is quite enough about boxing. What do you like about Malthouse?

“I’ve been drinking there pretty from day one. At the beginning, I drank pinot until a staff member [5] said no you’re not – you are drinking craft beer.’ That settled it. I love the feel of the place. I love the people. I can go in there any time and chat to someone if I feel like it, or sit in the corner if I don’t.

In terms of beers there is always a good selection and always something I like. I’ve been treated well there and can name quite a few of the staff as friends now.

I’ve always felt like part of the family – I get invited to staff birthdays, tastings, industry events and, on one memorable occasion, a Kapiti Coast pub crawl. When asked, I replied ‘are you sure? I’m old enough to be Dad to ALL of you.’ My age was asked for and given. The reply was delivered in a way that only the young can manage with no malice – ‘It’s ok, you’re not much older than Dad’… Bless ’em. Bless ’em all.”

What is your best occasion at Malthouse?

“My favourites are the West Coast IPA Challenges – always have been. They are big raucous fun things that I like a lot. The recent Oktoberfest events were amusing [6] but definitely the IPA Challenges are the best.”

Please name some favourite beers all time?

“Early to mid last year I developed a fondness for lower alcohol beers like Croucher Low Rider, Liberty Citra Junior and Tuatara ITI. I found the bigger beers were knocking me about more than they should which I put it down to old age. I also developed a taste for sour beers. I guess I like the extremes – very hoppy or very sour.

ParrotDog BitterBitch is up near the top of my all-time list because it’s always been a beautiful beer. I have to say it’s been a while since I’ve had more than two beers in one session though…” [7]

Next time, we drink to people who think that simply posting a hashtag on Twitter will save a show whose ratings have dropped from 400,000 to 150,000 viewers. [8]

[1] Or “Mr Mallon Sir” as he prefers to be called by people who may or may not have an outstanding bar tab.

[2] The John Campbell “news” show is currently under “review”. TV3 could do much worse than hire Jonathan Galuzska, former Malthouse staffer, future beer writer of the year and a dead ringer for a young JJ Campbell. The station would not even need to change the opening graphics.

[3] The IT Heavy Hitters motto is “Taking IT Professionals off chairs and into the ring for a great cause.” Regular readers will know that I am a sucker for a good motto and this one of the absolute best.

[4] This blog aspires to make the same claim.

[5] Probably Ben or Scotty, the history is hazy here.

[6] No one who has seen the photo of Colin in a German dress would refer to them as “amusing”.

[7] Theologians are divided on whether this is one of the seven signs of the impending appocolypse. Malthouse’s legendary Magic 8-Ball says “as I see it, yes.”

[8] For the record, I predict the “John Campbell is getting cancelled” story is simply a social media campaign designed to create a buzz and a ratings bump so that TV3 can say “we listened to the people and Campbell Live will continue.” They did a test run with the “John Campbell is going on Dancing with the Stars” rumour and were probably amazed at the response.


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


Mike Conroy’s surprisingly great blog – https://nuttytheangrysquirrel.wordpress.com/
Mike Conroy’s Give A Little – http://givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/nuttytheangrysquirrel (please donate now)
Malthouse Facebook – www.facebook.com/pages/Malthouse/7084276173
Malthouse Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/malthouse
Malthouse Taps on Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/MalthouseTaps
Neil Miller on Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/#!/beerlytweeting