In 2015, all those record breaking efforts were put in the shade by Tuatara head brewer Carl Vasta at the Tuatara XV Birthday Tap Takeover in the Malthouse. As he began to speak before the joyous crowd, I hit the start button on my trusty stopwatch. People at my (proper) table was divided on whether the Big Guy’s birthday speech would reach two minutes, Vasta’s previous longest public speech on record. [1]

We watched as the seconds ticked by to become a whole minute, then another. Carl had said “finally” at least twice by this point but he was suddenly lifted by a second rhetorical wind as the stop watch passed the three minute mark. This was truly uncharted territory. As Carl said “finally” yet again I feared he would fall short but another round of thanks to pretty much everyone he had ever met or even heard of saw Carl Vasta break the seemingly impregnable four minute speech barrier. I never thought I would see the day. [2]

This legendary speech was just one feature of the Tuatara Tap Takeover. There were over 20 Tuatara beers on tap, a new beer brewed for the occasion, old favourites bought out of retirement, some complimentary deep fried snacks of goodness, a charity auction which raised almost $400 for a very good cause, photos from the history of Tuatara Brewing, and Colin the Handsome Yet Softly Spokesman MC-ing the entire event from on top of the bar. Thankfully he had pants on this time…

I “accidentally” arrived at the Takeover a tad early after four hours writing about tertiary education funding policy on a sunny day. As a completely unintended consequence I managed to procure my preferred seat at my preferred table. [3] After other people arrived it was a smart and good-looking table. When a strange looking brewing vessel appeared on the Tuatara slideshow we correctly deduced it was a converted dairy tank from the second Tuatara brewery building and its height was determined by how high Carl could reach with his welding thing. [4]

As foreshadowed in last week’s blog, I went straight for the Tuatara Double Trouble. I love this beer more than Tim Grosser loves Tim Grosser. Alert and perky readers will know that once you go Trouble it is hard to go anywhere else on the beer spectrum. Consequently, I did not even try and stayed on the Double Trouble. Later, I observed that the squid rings were very bland only to be informed they were (and always had been) onion rings. It was time to head back to the mean streets of Thorndon town and the second series of The Professionals. [5]

A number of the Tuatara beers remain on tap though not, for some unknown reason, the Double Trouble. Sorry. However, now people’s thoughts are turning towards Christmas.

I have a tumultuous relationship with Christmas. On the one hand I do like receiving presents. Despite my Scottish heritage I even enjoy purchasing gifts which will make special people happy. Conversely, I loathe faux Christmas cheer, almost kill myself annually with scissors and sellotape trying to wrap something as simple as a book, and most Christmas Carols make me regret the day humans learned how to speak.

It especially irks me how Christmas starts to be celebrated (read: exploited) earlier every year. On the Facebook I shared a simple flow chart to help people figure out if it was Christmas. The key point is that if was November then it was not Christmas. I helpfully tweeted it to my local supermarket. They threatened to play Michael Buble every time I set foot in the store. I gave up faster than an Italian union official. [6]

I do have a Christmas tree which I put up as soon as I have finished Christmas shopping. This is almost always Christmas Eve. Said tree is over fifteen years old, was bought for less than twenty dollars at the Warehouse, and comes pre-decorated. Basically, you set up the base then pull down the already decorated branches and it is done. Forty seven seconds well spent.

Other people celebrate the festive season far better than I. [7] This year, Malthouse is proud to be part of Garage Project’s Kegs for Christmas on Saturday 12 December 2016. Basically, the good folk at Garage Project are donating kegs to selected Wellington bars with all profits going to local food charities Room at the Inn and Kaibosh. [8] It was awesome last year and this year will be bigger and better.

Garage Project is donating a different keg to each participating bar around the Craft Beer Capital of New Zealand. The full proceeds from each keg will go directly to charity. People supporting this fine initiative are encouraged to use @12kegs and #12 kegs in the Twittersphere. The organisers say “we think this is a great, public show of the value and love craft beer has to offer Wellington” and I have to agree. One of the highlights of 2015 has been the willingness of the craft beer community to support those in need in so many different ways. [9]

Next time, we drink to Boris Johnson. Donald Trump claimed that there were parts of London so radicalised that the Police did not dare go there. Boris not only denied this but said the main reason he did not visit New York was a fear of bumping into Donald Trump.

In a piece of insightful analysis, I have discovered that if you were to combine Trump’s immovable bouffant with Johnson’s fluffy “just got dressed in a hedge” look then you would end up with a perfectly normal haircut. Just saying… 

[1] I’m only counting straight public speaking as opposed to running a beer tasting. In that context, Carl can talk the ears off a gundark.
[2] Carl is a joy to interview. If you need 200 words from him, you will get 203. Other brewers, perhaps of an Impish variety, will give you 2,346 words to distill.
[3] Colin just told the staff at Meeting Room 3 (Fork & Brewer) to put my tab under the name “Sheldon.”
[4] Being right does not mean I know what sparkly or pointy things are actually called.
[5] Trivia Time: New Zealand-born Pamela Stephenson (married to Billy Connolly and star of Not the Nine O’Clock News) appears in three early episodes of The Professionals. She plays three completely different characters.
[6] As I type this, Meeting Room 3 has put on James Blunt. And people say my taste in music sucks…
[7] Basically everyone apart from Mahmoud Almadinejad.
[8] Last year alone they provided the equivalent of 409,000 meals from food which would otherwise have been thrown away.
[9] I may have just got something in my eye…


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


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