Do not feel ignorant – I had to look him up too. His official job description [1] was an “English cleric, writer and art collector” which promised so little. However, the reality of his life seems considerably more exciting. His Church career ended early, probably because he owed piles of money on a failed wine business. Colton did not seem to do much actual writing but what he did write proved hugely successful commercially.

The popularity of his work provided Colton with ample licence to pursue what are described by Professor Wikipedia as the “eccentricities” he was reportedly so “well known” for. [2] Those “eccentricities” included building a large private collection of valuable paintings, wine collecting, partridge-shooting and gambling. [3] The rest of the time he simply wasted. 

Colton’s words of wisdom beat out two strong contenders for the honour of being in the title of a New Zealand beer blog. The Dalai Lama, rather predictably, played up the spiritual aspect of darkness with his advice “I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.” [4] A counterpoint is provided by Paul Newman, actor and director, professional racing driver and environmentalist. The man appears able to counterpoint himself. He developed what he called “Newman’s second law: Just when things look darkest, they go black.”

Malthouse will be going black on 19 and 20 June for the now annual Darkest Days Festival – a celebration of dusky, gloomy and crepuscular beers which continues until they all run out. There will be at least 23 shadowy libations available. Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Proprietor commanded me to write a bit about all of them. The simple and logical approach would have been to cover 11 beers last week and the remaining 12 beers this week.

The Malthouse Blog has been accused of many things over the years but simple and logical are not on the list of charges. After I got “Clarkson-level” distracted last week with the Director’s Cut concept of sharing some dark beer wisdom from Nally, Bungard and Father O’Leary, I had only had room to cover four Darkest Days beer. After over half an hour on my abacus, I have deduced that this week’s blog will have to cover the remaining 19 beers. Here are short previews for the rest of the beers that will be available on the Malthouse Darkest Day… err… Days:

Tuatara Portly Abbot 2014 (a big Belgian ale which has been barrel aged to help provoke spicy apricot, funky yeast and toasted nut notes) 

Tuatara Mojo Stout (the perfect Wellington winter beer is a combination of fine stout and Mojo coffee beans which can make you sleepy and wide awake at precisely the same time)

Tuatara Chocolate Stout (Wellington Chocolate Factory supplied the 100% organic Fair Trade cacao nibs and chocolate for a beer they demanded “needs to taste like real chocolate and have chocolate in it”)

Tuatara Vanuatu Coffee Porter (brewed with last coffee shipped out of Tanna island in Vanuatu before Cyclone Pam hit. Mojo supplied the coffee and proceeds from this beer go to Mojo Coffee’s Vanuatu – Cheers to the good sorts at Mojo)

Tuatara Toasted Malt Stout (heavily hopped over a mix of dark and roasted malts – including Roasted Barley and Dark Crystal Malt – this beer weighs in at 7% and 60 International Bitterness Units)

Baylands Glasgow Slasher 2013 (this is a strong, complex barley wine and not, as many speculate, Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish’s Proprietor’s previous profession and main reason he moved to New Zealand) [5]

Garage Project Baltic Porter (the favourite tipple of the Czars gets a surprisingly restrained Garage Project treatment, at 12%, with just the addition of smoked malt to this classic brew)

Garage Project Oyster & Horopito (we all knew Garage Project’s relative restraint was never going to last long so into this dark beer they have thrown spicy native Horopito and salty, succulent oysters because… because they can)

Hallertau Liberty BDSM (Brewers Joseph Wood and Stephen Plowman find this name absolutely hilarious and, in quieter moments, you can hear them giggling in their northern brewery all the way from Malthouse. It officially stands for Bier das Schwarz Massive which translates as “the massive black beer.” It is made with fresh hops.)

Hop Federation Barrel Aged Stout 2014 (brewed with six specialty malts and aged in barrels, this deep black beer has notes of Tiramisu, chocolate and coffee)

Hop Federation Barrel Aged Stout 2015 (also brewed with six specialty malts and aged in barrels, this deep black beer has notes of Tiramisu, chocolate and coffee but is a year younger)

ParrotDog/Two Birds Double Stout (three Matts from Wellington collaborated with Two Birds from Melbourne and the result of their “interesting” brewing day is a 9.2% Double Stout described as “big, black and deceivingly smooth”)

Renaissance Tribute (This is almost certainly the 2012 vintage of Renaissance’s annual barley wine which is brewed by hand using an Elizabethan “DoubleWort Mashing” mashing process, then spiced up by the addition of New Zealand hops)

Sparks Outlander Extra Stout (five dark malts form the base of a black and intensely roasty ale which has called to mind hints of liquorice and even a tot of rum)

Thornbridge Cocoa Wonderland (our chums at England’s Thornbridge Brewery brewed a chocolate porter with proper chocolate to celebrate Cocoa Wonderland’s 10th Anniversary. The aim was to produce a beer resembling a chocolate liqueur to tempt even the staunchest non-beer drinkers)

Thornbridge Wild Raven (the recipe for this Black IPA was developed by New Zealand’s own James Kemp, 2008 National Home Brewing Champion and fine fellow all round. This patented “Kempicus Beer” is 6.6% ABV and a picture of balance)

Fork Brewing Murder of Crows (continuing brewer Kelly Ryan’s run of Game of Thrones beer names, [6] this 9.8% imperial stout has been “twisted” with coffee and cinnamon. Spoiler alert: it is going to die soon)

Fork Brewing Brettanasaurus Hex (proving there is no pop culture phenomenon that he will not shamelessly name a beer after, Kelly Ryan goes all “Jurassic World”, “stomp, stomp, roar and maim” with this beer. Asked to explain “what the heck is this”, [7] he replied “this is what happens when brewers are left alone on cold dark autumnal mornings. Pretty much it’s the Murder of Crows Imperial Stout wort fermented with 100% Brettanomyces bruxellensis. It’s an aggressive yeast so has knocked out the coffee character almost completely and fermented the beer down so that it hit 11% ABV. It has subtle phenolic smokiness and nice yeast derived plumy characters. Drinks far too smooth that strength.”)

mike’s Double Vanilla Coffee Porter (brewed at mike’s Organic Brewery, easily the top tourist attraction in Urenui, [8] this 10% double stout has been given a touch of big city class with the addition of vanilla and coffee)

Next time, we drink to Greig McGill. The unforgiveable misspelling of his name in the last post was not intended to cause offence and has been corrected. Calling him a “noted Labour voter” was intended to cause offence and will remain on the Internet forever and ever. Fortunately, he is currently making a number of stunning beers in which to drown any sorrows.

[1] In other words, Wikipedia.
[2] I need to apply this business model to my own writing immediately.
[3] Including a rare brief period of successful gambling before bankruptcy and death.
[4] I, for one, am happy to judge the universe on a daily basis. For example, Jurassic World is a surprisingly enjoyable film.
[5] For the record, Colin was a hairdresser and loves discussing this fact with people at any time.
[6] Kelly Ryan does begin to look a bit like Jon Snow after a number of 9.8% imperial stouts…
[7] A totally legitimate question asked by proper journalists all the time.
[8] Urenui Village Motto: “At least we are not Waitara.”

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

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