I’m not into the Christmas spirit yet, partly because I tend to put up my “tree” [2] and do all my Christmas shopping on December 24th, but mainly because I have been far too excited about the new Star Wars film. Readers with even rudimentary sensory capacities will be aware that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” premiered in New Zealand earlier this morning. It is the seventh installment in the movie franchise which has plundered my wallet for 90% of my time on this planet.

Predictably, it has done so again with the purchase of a movie ticket, a couple of Tuatara ales, two pairs of 3D glasses, [3] a snow speeder action set and a new Stormtrooper action figure. [4] I posed on the (six foot long) red carpet at the Embassy with a Stormtrooper and a Mandalorian Warrior for the now traditional photo. The rain and car lights gave the image the look of lens flare, long a trademark of director JJ Abrams but strangely lacking in this film.

If I could review the film in one word it would be “awesome”. A two word review would read “totally awesome”, while the three word extended version would be “let’s go again!” I’m not going to post any spoilers but here are a few observations:

-It is apparently difficult to walk up cinema steps in a Darth Vader costume. The Sith Lord at my screening just about fell over twice and had to unmask to find his seat successfully.

– Whoever told Otago Polytech and WelTec that they should buy expensive advertising before the Star Wars films did not have their best interests at heart. The crowd was in no mood for earnest education ads (particularly the fashion qualification) and someone in the crowd loudly observed “you have badly misjudged your audience here.” [5]

– The battle scenes are truly intense with the baddies in particular gaining some awe-inspiring new hardware.

– 3D glasses hurt my eyes but it was totally worth it.

– BB-8 (the bowling ball robot) is surprisingly expressive and a better actor than Jake Lloyd and Hayden Christensen combined. [6]

– Chewbacca is very funny in the movie and his crossbow has been upgraded significantly.

– I did not see my Snow Speeder at all in the film though there are heaps of classic characters in the background.

– It is still a better love story than Twilight.

– Unfortunately, the producers did not brutally slaughter Jar Jar Binks as I had hoped. On the upside, he does not appear. Neither do midichlorians…

– Stormtroopers actually occasionally hit their targets this time but their armour remains ineffective.

– JJ Abrams sets up the next movie nicely. Now hurry up and make it!

Before the premiere, me and some of my scruffy nerf herder friends went to Malthouse. Initially, I was forced to sit at my second favourite table but within minutes the patrons at “my table” upped and left, allowing me to swoop in like a womp rat. From behind the bar Van noted that seemed to happen quite often. I have a few Jedi mind tricks of my own… 

I thought the bar was busy but Ciaran the Bearded and Loquacious Unit Manager assures me it was one of the quietest nights in weeks. Describing recent business as “madness”, Malthouse has hosted Kiwicon attendees, AC/DC fans, and innumerable Christmas functions. In fact, the last week has been busier for Malthouse than Beervana so that is truly huge. Ciaran describes the Malthouse staff as “the hardest working in the city” and it is hard to disagree.

Today, a keg of very special beer will go on sale for a very special cause. It has become a Tuatara tradition to brew a Matt Lang Memorial Beer each year. Matt was Tuatara’s Auckland Regional sales rep, and he passed away suddenly in his sleep in December 2013, at the age of 27 from Long QT Syndrome (LQTS) – just one type of Cardiac Inherited Disease (CID).

Matt loved massively hoppy, Pliny-like pale ales, so that’s what Tuatara brewed for him at their Third Eye brewery. They were helped by Matt’s father, Bruce, and Tom Donoghue from the Cardiac Inherited Diseases Group who came down from Auckland for the brew day in Wellington. The 2015 Matt Lang Memorial Beer is a 7% IPA with Columbus, Simcoe and Centennial hops and an impressive IBU rating of 68.

Each Matt Lang beer purchased will see money donated to charity, and there will be the opportunity to make donations at all the bars involved, including Malthouse. All proceeds go to the Auckland Hospital Cardiac Physiology (AHCP) Unit for the purchase of AEDs (Advisory External Defibrillator), a portable defibrillator for at-risk patients with the same condition as Matt.

This is a wonderful initiative by Tuatara which is being well supported by craft beer venues and outlets around Wellington. It is a fine way to remember a hugely popular member of our craft beer community.

Next time we drink to 2016. This is the final Malthouse blog for the year but I will be back in January with my always controversial Top Ten Kiwi Beers of the Year list. I’d like to thank everyone who has read the blog during 2015 and for all the feedback. This is my favourite piece to write to write each week and I’d like to thank my patient publishers Colin and Ciaran for their ideas and encouragement.

I wish all my readers an enjoyable and safe festive season.

[1] I’m quite proud that my spell checker does not recognise “Buble”

[2] I call it a “tree” because I’m pretty sure it contains no natural materials at all, or indeed anything that might once have been near a tree.

[3] Due to a garbled sub-space transmission the first pair is probably still on the bus to Strathmore…

[4] The last two are not toys – they are collectible action figures which just happen to have been bought at a toy shop.

[5] It was me.

[6] To be fair, my plastic Christmas tree is also a better actor than those two…


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


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