The format is almost ludicrously simple, because I like things to be simple, almost ludicrously so. I sit down with a worthy Malty staff member at “my table” in the bar area and ask a number of craftily constructed questions about their life and career. [2]

It is also worth noting that I can now reliably use the “Voice Recorder” function on my smart phone to ensure the accuracy of this interview transcript. While that might not sound like a great achievement to normal people, in terms of my on-going and usually unsuccessful battles with technology, this is the equivalent of splitting the atom, cracking the Rosetta Stone and breaking the Enigma Code, all at the same time while riding a Magic Unicorn.

For this issue, I talked to Calum Wallace (“just Calum”) whose job title is apparently “manager or cellar boy” at Malthouse. Being of Scottish descent, which is obvious given my Avatar-like skin pigmentation, I had to ask if he was related to William Wallace. Despite being from Portsmouth he claimed it was plausible.

How long have you been involved in the hospitality industry?

“I worked a few years back in England through university, just in the summer breaks, got a few jobs in bars. I had a couple of years out then came over to Wellington. That was kind of the ‘find a job or go home’ moment and I landed a pretty sweet job here. I might stick around!”

What brought you to Wellington?

“My older brother lives here which was a big part of wanting to stay here. I’ve always wanted to visit New Zealand. It was one of my goals to go travelling and come to New Zealand. I always wanted to go sky diving and bungy jumping and did not know any better place to do it than here. It also has similar weather to England so I could fit straight in!”

How long have you been working at Malty?

“About a year and a half now.”

Why Malthouse?

“I was just walking around the streets with CVs. I had a few other job offers around town through my brother, who managed Scopa, but I wanted to work more in the bar industry. That is what I’m used to. I just happened to stroll into Malthouse and they just happened to have a position. It was kind of perfect timing but it was also just before the West Coast IPA Challenge.

My first shift was the Thursday which was pretty quiet but my first real shift was the Saturday night of the Challenge. It was a real jump in the deep end which was quite nice. It was definitely ‘learn by doing.’

When I was looking around for jobs, I saw all the taps at Malthouse. I just love drinking beer. There is no way around it. I was like ‘wow’. I saw the environment, all the people were really nice, really friendly. I thought this is the kind of place I want to be – the safe haven on Courtenay Place. It was the right environment for me – and it still is. It draws in a different crowd of people who just want to sit, have a chat and enjoy good beer. ”

What are the worst things a customer can do in a bar?

“I think the rudest thing is a customer being on the phone. You are trying to serve them and they are texting or on the phone. It just ‘grinds my gears’ so much – just give me two seconds of your time! [3] Especially in a bar like Malthouse where you want to tell people more about what they are drinking. You want to give them an insight into the beer and why it was made.

Also when they are settling up and you have to poke them with the machine because they are not paying attention. It’s like ‘come on, give me a second of your life!’ Pleasantries like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are the easiest things in the world to say but so many people don’t do it. Clicking fingers or waving at me just means I’ll serve someone else first. If you are going to be rude, maybe I’ll be a little rude too.” [4]

What would be your three “desert island beers”?

“I’m a massive red beer fan so Hop Federation Red IPA would be straight in there. I’d only been here a couple of months when it came on tap and it just blew my mind. It was amazing. However, it meant my tab consisted of 24 pints of Hop Fed Red over the week. Van took a photo of me sitting on the empty keg crying and sent it to the brewer Simon Nicholas. We all got free t-shirts! I hadn’t even met the guy.

Epic Hop Zombie. It was one of the first big double IPAs I tried. It was big – could beer get any better than this? I’m like you, I drink a lot of it.

One of the first beers I had here that wasn’t so much part of the pale ale range was ParrotDog Riwaka Secret. At the time, it was one of the first beers I learned about and that beer will live in my memory for a while. It is one of my favourites. However, I could drink ParrotDog Bloody Dingo all day. I’m just a massive fan of red ales.”

What are two beers on tap right now that people should try?

“It would be the Two Thumbs Scoundrels and Rogue 8.5% Cider. It has the smell of brandy after being French Oak Barrel Aged and wild yeast fermented. It’s so different to what people expect from a cider and is the most interesting cider around – so different to the sweet ciders on the market.

The other would be Behemoth In Your Face IIPA. The story behind it sells itself, as well as it being an incredibly good beer. Basically, an incredible beer made with an incredible story. It is great to see Andrew Childs making such great beer.”

What are your plans going forward?

“I’ve just become a manager here. Me and a couple of guys who work here are looking to pursue our own sort of brewing business. It’s mainly a bit of fun on our days off but we will see where it takes us. Hopefully we can start brewing some beer. I am a keen designer so hopefully I can design some t-shirts and labels and a website. It is something we are all really interested in.”

Finally, this is a reminder about the Malthouse Becomes Ciderhouse event which is a celebration of ciders and has been running for almost a week. A couple of the ciders have (unsurprisingly) run out but there is still a chance to make one last push before the weekend.

Next time, we drink to Sarah Palin. Because that endorsement was the only way the Donald Trump campaign could have gotten any weirder.

[1] I am aware of the irony of me making fun of people who use ghost writers…

[2] Questions which, in an incredible coincidence, happen to be very similar questions to the ones used in the last four Profiles in Staff Courage…

[3] Bonus points for getting a Peter Griffin reference into the interview. That is usually my job!

[4] Love it, love everything about it.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine

New Zealand Liquor News Magazine


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