It always seemed like a peculiarly American tradition. Growing up, I never really saw trick or treating on the mean streets of Hoon Hay in Christchurch. Instead, I read about it in the Peanuts cartoon strip, including blanket-dragger Linus’ obsession with the “Great Pumpkin.” [2] However, yet again I appear to be out of touch with coolness and Halloween has become a bit of thing in New Zealand.

Obviously we do not allow child begging in the gated communities of Thorndon but I’m told the practice is widespread elsewhere. Even adult people are embracing the opportunity to dress up for Halloween parties. I suppose if it gets more Gold Bikini Princess Leias out there I must reluctantly endorse the trend.

Malthouse will be celebrating Halloween this weekend with new beers from Renaissance, Wild and Woolly and Hop Hustlers. There will also be a rare return from Garage Project’s legendary Day of the Dead Aztec Black Chilli Lager [3] and its “little sister” La Calavera Catrina which is a Blonde Chilli Lager with Watermelon and Rose Water. [4]

There are also a number of Malthouse competitions which will be running on 31 October. First up is the fancy dress Halloween Party where the best costume wins a voucher. There is also a pumpkin carving competition for a $50 bar voucher. Obviously because we live in Worksafe New Zealand you cannot carve your pumpkin at the bar with a large knife. However, bring in your already carved pumpkin on the night to enter this extremely prestigious contest. Plus, by hacking up a pumpkin you have saved the world from another pumpkin ale and I for one salute you.

I am advised by the loquacious and surprisingly sexy unit manager Ciaran that there will be the “usual gross/scare boxes” set up in the lounge. As a Halloween Denier I have no idea what they are but they sound both gross and scary. That appears oddly appropriate for Halloween. In a particularly ghoulish twist, Malthouse will be chalking corpse outlines of regulars onto the floor. If you guess who it is, you get a complimentary beer. [5] The event has been dubbed “Halloween – Gourd to the Last Drop” which is very clever. I wish I’d thought of it.

Malthouse will of course open for the Rugby World Cup Final between the mighty All Blacks and those chaps in canary yellow at 5am on Sunday. Some Wallabies fans have launched a petition to change the start time to the final so they do not have to get up so early. While my initial response was that they should have some “concrete juice” [6] I actually think we should accept the offer but on one condition. That condition is that they start Quade Cooper and thus assure a New Zealand victory. Honestly, the smartest things Australian rugby has done at this tournament is drop Cooper and injure Skelton. They are such a better team without those two. Dammit.

I’ll be there, HopWired IPA in one hand, bacon sarnie in the other, and probably wearing a Scottish Rugby jersey for reasons that escape even me. The final is also the final opportunity to celebrate the magnificent legislation allowing bars to show the games without applying for a special licence. It has been a huge success across the country and a massive blow to those who predicted drunken gloom and destruction. Luckily for those pundits, actual results don’t matter in their own little worlds and they will be likely be out lobbying for a sugar tax on Monday to counteract all the food consumed celebrating the inevitable All Black victory. [7]

Malthouse will be launching their exclusive (for a day) Hunt for the Red October red beer on 29 October at 7pm – tonight. Red ales usually do little for me but the Brothers in Alms collaborative ale made by every Wellington Brewery for the injured Jason Bathgate and Andrew Childs (both now out of hospital and eating some serious food) made me rethink. Done well, this style can be a beer of beauty and I’m genuinely intrigued as to what will pour at 7pm. [8] Do not phantom out on me people. [9]

Coming up in the Malthouse Blog, The Session Beer Session returns, an Italian craft beer takeover (a New Zealand first), and we profile the sexiest Mac Daddy behind the bar (he does not know it yet). We will also discuss the importance of “mine sweeping” which is ensuring every beer is consumed. It is only respectful of their sacrifice.

Next time, we drink to Steven Seagal. The soon to be Oscar Award winning actor whose early films went to elaborate lengths to have him wear a singlet and run a lot, while his later movies went to even greater efforts to avoid either of those occurrences.

[1] I’m talking bad brain-eating zombies. Not my beloved Epic Hop Zombies. They are always welcome at my door.

[2] The “Grand Pumpkin” would make a hilarious appearance in the Simpsons Halloween special by going on a violent rampage when he found out how pumpkins were actually treated on Halloween. In retrospect, serving him pumpkin bread and roasted pumpkin seeds was an ill-thought out approach.

[3] If I had a dollar for every beer made in that particular style I’d have one dollar, maybe two, tops.

[4] If I had a dollar for every beer made in that particular style I’d have even less money.

[5] Just a thought but Mike Conroy may still be lying in his outline when the party starts. Free beers all round!

[6] In other words, harden up.

[7] Spoiler Alert: As a taxpayer you are probably funding this campaign.

[8] Select bar staff know but are sworn to secrecy – even from me. Probably because I would blog about it, tweet about it and then yell spoilers from my balcony at the construction workers who have been jack hammering something nearby since 7:02am.

[9] “Phantom” being the mysterious ability to disappear from a bar without telling anyone.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine

New Zealand Liquor News Magazine


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