For me growing up, the Four Horsemen were the greatest professional wrestling stable of all time. At its best, it compromised of the Nature Boy Ric Flair, The Enforcer Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, [2] and Ole Anderson (in the original foursome) or Barry Windham (in perhaps the most iconic stable). They were bad guys who fought dirty and partied hard. Famously, the Horsemen would “live the gimmick” by arriving at the arena in a limo straight from their private jet.

The name came about almost by accident. With time running short on a live broadcast, Arn had to ad-lib a few rare lines and came up with something like “the only time this much havoc had been wreaked by this few a number of people, you need to go all the way back to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse!”

The name stuck and eventually over-stayed its welcome as the Four Horsemen kept reforming with various new members including “Pretty” Paul Roma [3] and, worst of all, Steve “Mongo” McMichael. [4] However, at its prime, the Horsemen were the gold standard, the symbol of excellence. There was the flamboyant Flair (“I’m Ric Flair! The stylin’, profilin’, limousine riding, jet flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin’ n’ dealin’ son of a gun!”), the canny Tully Blanchard, the hard hitting Arn Anderson, and the long levers of Barry Windham.

In my first flat, we styled ourselves as the Four Horsemen of Mount Cook. Names have been changed to protect both the innocent and guilty here. Flash with his self-proclaimed “world’s most perfect upper body” and sandy hair was a lock for Flair. Goldie, a talented cricketer, had to be Blanchard. Bad Boy [5] with his enormous frame and smouldering silence was a dead ringer for big Barry Windham. To my delight, I ended up as Arn Anderson because of my large chest and ability to say funny things with no notice. As recently as last year, we were pictured together throwing up the famous four finger Horseman salute.

Amongst our many hi-jinks, we decided to fly down to Dunedin to watch the All Blacks play Scotland at Carisbrook. For reasons that made sense at the time, [6] we decided to make the journey from the flat to the youth hostel in Dunners wearing togas… in mid-winter… in the Deep South. The four of us were among the last to board the morning flight out of Wellington and of course our seats were right at the back. Accordingly, we had to casually stroll in our togas past dozens of sniggering passengers. When the Captain announced that the temperature in Dunedin was exactly one degree there was a collective “d’oh” from the Horsemen followed by general merriment from the other passengers.

For the record, the nice lady who checked us in at the youth hostel did not even bat an eyelid at our attire. It would seem toga wearing is far more common in Otago student accommodation than it is on Air New Zealand. Sensibly, we wore normal clothing to game (Spoiler Alert: The All Blacks beat Scotland), several pubs afterward, [7] and the flight back.

In a dramatic twist, we almost missed the return flight even though we arrived at the airport almost an hour early. Engaged in a fiery pinball battle in the arcade, it took a while to register that the public address system was urgently hailing “Passengers Flair, Blanchard, Wyndham and Anderson for the flight to Wellington.” Yes, in those pre-9/11 days we had booked tickets under the names of the wrestlers in the true Four Horsemen stable. Thankfully, the situation finally registered and, as we were not wearing togas, a sprint ensured we made the flight, just. [8]

The Four Horseman brand lives on in Kiwi brewing with Joseph Wood (Liberty), Stephen Plowman (Hallertau), Kelly Ryan (Fork Brewing) and Luke Nicholas (Epic) brewing collaboratively under the appropriate moniker “The Four Horsemen of the Hopocalypse.” Currently, Malthouse has multiple taps dedicated to Liberty, Epic and Fork Brewing. To paraphrase the original sexy beast Mr Meatloaf, “Three Out of Four Horsemen Ain’t Bad.” [9]

From his crepuscular man cave known as Liberty Brewing, Jo Wood has supplied Malty with his Liberty Elixir (a 4.7% bright ale with heaps of aroma from generous dry hopping), Liberty Knife Party IPA (a previous winner of the Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge bursting with pine, grapefruit and resin), [10] and Liberty Oh Brother (a punchy APA with juicy tangelo and soft caramel notes). Two of the acclaimed Yakima range are also on draft, Yakima Monster APA (peach and pine notes) and Yakima Scarlet (red, strong, hoppy and 6.9% alcohol).

The Impish brewer presents Epic Apocalypse (a dark, toasty, fruity Black IPA), Epic Armageddon IPA (6.66% and one of my favourite beers in the history of beer), Epic Epicurean Coffee and Fig Oatmeal Stout 2014 (Luke takes three of my least favourite ingredients in a beer and makes them worse than the sum of their parts), and the new Epic Awakening Pils. I found this beer flavoursome, quenching and smooth. I seem to drinking (and enjoying) Pilsners far more over the last year or so which probably means they are getting hoppier…

Kelly Ryan is the brewer at the Fork Brewery, when he is not over in Britain making tonnes of beer for the big Weatherspoons beer festival. I call him a Rock Star but the Fork staff are trying to coin #brewjesus. Well played. For the record I will again declare I have a small ownership interest in the Fork & Brewer and the associated in-house brewery. There are two Fork beers on, Devil’s Fork (an old-school English IPA brewed with Victory Brewing from Philadelphia), and Pitch Fork (a funktastic Saison stuffed with citrus zest, horopito and Brett yeast).

Stephen Plowman, the Naked Epicurean, is absent from the taps but is there in the fridges. Malthouse stocks the Hallertau Funkonnay (sour, chardonnay barrels, peachy and dry) and his famous Hallertau Porter Noir (chocolate, cherry and wine notes).

Next time, we drink to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It is less than a hundred days to go but who is counting? Oh, wait, I am.

[1] Colourblind Horsemen may be stumped trying to tell the difference between the “white” horse and the “pale” horse.

Tully was such a great ring technician that he had no nicknames.

I saw Mr Roma wrestle in the old Wellington Showgrounds which should give an indication of how far his career went after the Horsemen…

Possibly one of the least talented wrestlers to ever set foot in the squared circle and I’ve watched The Great Khali, Giant Gonzalez and Jay Leno wrestle.

The nickname was sarcastic as he was a very good boy. I am not convinced that my own nickname at the time – Sloth – was in any way ironic.

Almost certainly involving large amounts of Lion Brown.

We saw Jeff Wilson wearing jeans, a denim shirt and denim jacket. It was so long ago he had beautiful flowing blonde hair.

This may be the last recorded instance of me running.

“Paraphrase” is used in its absolutely broadest context here.

It is rumoured that Joseph swore on his favourite Iron Maiden t-shirt to name the beer after whatever happened while it was fermenting.


Neil Miller

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


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