Obviously, the result that has captured the public’s imagination so far is plucky little Scotland’s upset 45-10 win over the table-topping, undefeated and fearsome Cherry Blossoms from Japan. Some other people appear to think the Japanese win over South Africa was the major talking point to date but they were clearly not born in Caledonia.

Over the course of my lifetime, rugby would be my third watched sport after Cricket (some games last five days) and Professional Wrestling (“it’s still real to me dammit”). I am a loyal supporter of Scottish Rugby [1] and Wellington Rugby [2] so don’t talk me about being a fair weather fan. There is nothing easy about supporting those two teams. Heck, we let Italy into the Six Nations so Scotland would stop coming last but Italy have not lived up to their part of the bargain.

I watched the inaugural final in 1987 with my friend Jim. [3] We were in high school and living in Tawa. During that final, the All Blacks fairly comprehensively beat France and David Kirk lifted the Rugby World Cup for the very first time. [4] At the time, we did not think it was a particularly big deal because we assumed New Zealand would win all the World Cups. History has proved why we became a beer writer and a film writer (respectively) rather than sports pundits.

In terms of live Rugby World Cup matches I have managed exactly two. The first was in 2003 when I watched the All Blacks play Wales in Sydney. This game disabused me of any notion of “ANZAC Spirit” as, when the Welsh briefly looked like they might win, the chants of “Wales, Wales, Wales” grew louder and louder, and developed a peculiarly Australian twang.

Consequently, I felt utterly justified heading to the 2011 game between Australia and the United States of America at Wellington Regional Stadium [5] to support the USA. The Four Horsemen flatmates referred to in last week’s blog reformed and dressed as classic WWF wrestlers for the occasion – Bad Boy put on some tinsel and apparently was Macho Man Randy Savage, Goldie had a polystyrene stick and some sort of cape to become Hacksaw Jim Duggan, while Flash raided his Dad’s suit closet and dyed himself orange in order to emulate the Nature Boy Ric Flair. As for me – combat boots, fatigues, black t-shirt, leather jacket, GI helmet and a long blond wig [6] was my attempt to replicate Triple H in the Degeneration-X Army.

As we marched down the waterfront, waving tiny US flags and singing patriotic songs, we were joined by thousands of others all supporting America and virtually none who had American accents. When it came time for the traditional rendition of “Star Spangled Banner” the US rugby players were visibly stunned at the volume and passion their anthem was sung by 34,000 rugby fans in Wellington. [7] When the American flanker levelled Quade Cooper in a “technically legal” tackle, the entire venue erupted and just about slid into the sea during a fit of delirium. Someone mentioned later that Australia had won but that did not dampen the spirits of the faithful.

New Zealand has been champions twice, Scotland has been to the quarter finals (or better) every time (apart from last time), and France has never ever won. [8] This time I have attempted to get up and watch both the All Blacks first match and Scotland’s epic hit-out against the Blossoms – I failed miserably both times and gave thanks for the miracles of MySky (and endless replays if you forget to record the event).

At some point in the rather lengthy tournament I am going to go to Malthouse in the early hours of the morning to have IPA and chicken wings while watching a match. In part, this is because I enjoy the occasional decadence of drinking outside the “accepted hours” but also because some politicians tried to tell us that we should not be allowed to do so. Generally a placid kind of fellow, I have a contrarian streak which means I react poorly to being told what to do (even if I would have normally done it).

Thanks to the last minute law snuck through Parliament in a rare moment of common sense, Malthouse will be open at exceptionally odd hours for selected games. Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor did his best Professor X impression [9] to try and explain the decision making schematic to me but it is best to check Malthouse social media (links below) about opening hours during the Cup.

Unit Manager Ciaran Duffy took time away from wearing a tuxedo and sneakers [10] to compile a list of over 20 award winning beers from the New Zealand Brewer’s Guild Beer Awards 2014 that are currently available at Malthouse. Next week, we will do the same exercise for this year’s awards and have an exclusive look at the new Beer Writer of the Year. I’ll be asking him the hard questions like “are you really old enough to drink?” and “how do I work my iPod?”

Here are the available 2014 award winning beers and brief comments from me about each in brackets:

Gold – Tuatara IPA (hops and so much marmalade that Paddington Bear needed a restraining order)

Silver – Renaissance Stonecutter (a benchmark beer for complexity and love)

Silver – Renaissance Voyager IPA (I’d be on the bridge for this one…)

Bronze – Emerson’s Bookbinder (there will always be a place in my heart for Booky)

Gold – ParrotDog BloodyDingo (“a dingo stole my sense of moderation when it comes to drinking this beer”)

Silver – Epic Armageddon (oh, I’m a getting it – an all-time favourite IPA. Which is pretty much code for all-time favourite beer)

Silver – Liberty Yakima Scarlett (takes a lot of my money)

Silver – Tuatara Aotearoa Pale Ale (takes whatever is left – a go-to beer for me)

Bronze – Baylands Woodrow’s Veto (my favourite beer of theirs and I’m still planning a filibuster at this only getting a bronze in 2014)

Bronze – Panhead Supercharger (have not had this beer since yesterday but, if memory serves me right, it rules)

Silver – ParrotDog BitterBitch (one of favourite beers of all time from the boy band of Kiwi brewing)

Bronze – Stone and Wood Pacific Ale (plenty of flavour without too many hops or alcohol)

Silver – Epic Imperium (Imperial Stout so not be messed with lightly – I came up with this name too but hoped it would go to an APA)

Silver – Epic Apocalypse (Black IPAs are generally pointless. This one is has a point)

Silver – Liberty Darkest Days (Joseph Wood talks about his wardrobe on the beer label)

Bronze – ParrotDog Otis (snappy and flavourful)

Bronze – Tuatara Hefe (my first wheat beer and now a bit of an industry standard)

Bronze – Tuatara Pilsner (if you look confused by the 160 beers, this is what you will be offered at Malthouse. You could do a lot worse)

Silver – Liberty Citra (I’d kill everyone in this room for a glass of Citra right now. Fortunately, I’m self-employed and work from home)

Silver – Renaissance Paradox Pilsner (pretty sure Andy Deuchars told me they would never do a lager but, paradoxically, this is great)

Silver – Tuatara Iti (small but perfectly formed and responsible. Everything that I aspire to be…)

Next time, we drink to people taking offence on behalf of other people who are not actually offended. Hopefully this stops being a thing.

[1] Motto: “We are so ashamed that Grant Fox scored his only test try ever against us.”

[2] Motto: “We build up your hopes by thrashing Auckland then lose to King Country and miss out on the semi-finals by a single point, again.”

[3] Also known as “Mr Pheasant” for reasons I understand and “Snogba” for reasons I do not inquire about.

[4] It should be noted that David Kirk stood for the National Party nomination after the retirement of Sir Robert Muldoon and was comprehensively thrashed by Clem Simich. I’ll let you think about that…

[5] I loathe the nickname “The Cake Tin”.

[6] They told me it was a man’s wig but I suspect I looked more like a young Ellen DeGeneres than a young Owen Wilson.

[7] The Stadium capacity is around 35,000.

[8] Who says rugby is different from war?

[9] Col is a method actor.

[10] I regret to tell him that I made this look permanently unfashionable by wearing the same combination to my high school ball. Sorry – I have that effect on coolness.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

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