There was not much to cheer about at the game because New Zealand
got thoroughly owned by the Australians. It was a complete sell-out crowd but in
general it was as quiet as David Warner at a spelling bee. Fortunately I
managed to find a spot in the shade otherwise I would have melted in the hot
Wellington sun while watching the defeat. For the record, I did not take “the

Ironically it has rained pretty much constantly in Wellington
since we lost but then we deserved to. In other news, every cicada in existence
has seemingly woken up this week and is now chirping outside my office window.
They are almost drowning out the whistling workman next door with a hammer who
likes hitting metal things since 6:34am. [2] On balance, I’m on #teamcicada. [3]

There are seven beers on tap at Malthouse I want to discuss today
so here we go:

Godzone Beat Champion Pale Ale
(Wellington) 5.9%

I have to
start with the super obvious disclaimer that I am a director at Fork Brewing
and have been since before the opening. [4] This beer frankly surprised me. I
was expecting a run of the mill mainstream pale ale for the corporate crowd but
brewer Kelly #brewjesus Ryan has made it awesome. It is packed with New Zealand
hops, – think orange and spice – but still balanced and drinkable. Plus you can
now buy it in bottles. [5] You should do so immediately.

Beavertown Gamma Ray APA (Tottenham) 5.4%

I’ve been
to the London pub where Beavertown was first brewed but I have to say it was
not easy. I was on a “fact finding mission” to Pilsen in the Czech Republic
with a night in London. The taxi was a rather sexy looking unmarked black SUV
which made me feel like a rock star… until we attempted to go anywhere.

The ride
had been booked months in advance, we gave the driver the name of the pub and
the street address, but he refused to move until we gave him the postcode too.
He had a huge GPS system on the dash, but we had to use Kiwi cell phones to
find the secret code. After all that he drove straight past the pub and had to
do a seven point turn in a cul-de-sac.

Anyway, Beavertown are a delightfully creative London brewery.
Their beers are being bought in by the good peeps at Beertique and the Rye IPA
is pretty special is an APA with ray guns on the label – of course I would have
this first. My notes read “slightly hazy golden, thick and finely bubbled head,
lasting caramel mid-bitterness, smooth carbonation but not hugely APA.” Looking
back, it’s at the more subtle end of the scale – balanced and tasty.”

Epic Brooklyn IPA (Auckland) 6.3%

another disclaimer – because they are cool right – I have not drunk this beer
since yesterday. I came out of a six hour meeting where I took 23 pages of
notes and, unsurprisingly, wanted a beer. Brooklyn is a new hop (December 2015)
and this is the first Kiwi beer made with it. I had a Brooklyn and adored the
citrus and grapefruit notes. My intention was to stay for just a quick one but
my Malthouse bar tab suggests otherwise.

Kereru Imperial Nibs Stout (Wellington) 8.5%

I have
been known to have strong opinions on beers – hoppy (in favour), fruit
(opposed) and coconut (opposed). It turns out that I was wrong. [6] After
cracking open a For Even Greater Justice Toasted Coconut Porter on a hot
Wellington evening late last year I was enchanted by the flavours – toasted
coconut (clearly), vanilla (from the vanilla beans), coffee (from the cacao
nibs) but with a clean finish.

I sent
brewer Chris Mills a text saying “I may have been overly judgemental about your
coconut beer.” He replied “That is the most intriguing thing you have said all
year.” [7] Imperial Nibs is a stronger version of For Even Greater Justice and
all the more intriguing for it.

Shadow Majestic Milk Stout
(Wellington) 4%

I’m not
sure who is in charge down at the Fork & Brewer but they keep letting Kelly
#Frodo Ryan brew beers with yoghurt and ice lollies. Make more pale ales you
scruffy yet sexy hippy! Anyway, this beer is named after the fact that the Fork
is literally in the shadow of the Majestic Centre during all the hours of
sunshine we have had this summer. You know, twice as much as Auckland.

defends making a dark beer for summer saying:

“I like brewing loads of different
beer styles, but for some reason, it’s the darker ones – the stouts and the
porters – that are my favourite to brew. In terms of hops, I wanted to bring
this away slightly from the standard milk stout. Shadow Majestic courts both
Kiwi and US hops. It’s a nod to our Pacific friends in the USA and the
wonderful American-style stouts that are often jammed full of big,
resinous and punchy West Coast US hops.”

“My mind’s eye had something with
some extremely gentle roastiness, a little raisin and prune character and a
lovely candied fruit hop character to round it off. I don’t know if there is
such a thing as a Pacific Milk Stout. There seems to be very few new ideas in
brewing, but it sounded good to me.”

Funk Estate Super Afrodisiac Imperial Stout (Auckland) 8.3%

cornerstone of Malthouse’s Valentine’s Day weekend, this is a sexy, smooth,
sultry beer – just like the young guys that brewed it. It is the beer that
beatific, bold and bombastic Unit Manager Ciaran Duffy claimed would “
get the
town shagging!” I guess we will know for sure in nine months or so…

In the
Hopinator there are, surprise surprise, no hops. But there are chillies, many
chillies. Flowing over their fiery and warlike corpses is none other than Epic
Armageddon IPA (Auckland) 6.66%.
I adore Armageddon and generally dislike chilli beer [8] but this particular
combination of fruit, bitterness and heat absolutely nails it. In the words of
Fry from Futurama, “Shut Up and Take My Money”!

Mr Bombastic Ciaran Duffy wanted this quote included “the internet is dangerous, it’s
convinced me that I’m a hypochondriac”. I believe Abraham Lincoln said that


Next time we drink to Brendon McCullum.

Hopefully the Basin Reserve will take note of the demand and increase the
supply of Black Dog and, best case scenario, other craft beers too.


[2] For my Canadian readers
who were previously unfamiliar with cicadas until they got a photo of one
literally two feet above me at the cricket, they are now pretty much
everywhere, including, according to the local newspaper, on buses now. Another
strike against public transport…


[3] Fletcher Construction tells the Body Corporate they start work
at 7:30am. They tell me they start at 7:00am. They are liars.

[4] Apparently this is still
important to a couple of people.


[5] For the
record, writing a 24 word beer label is actually harder than writing a 1,000
word blog.


[6] This
will come as a surprise to absolutely no one.


[7] It was mid-January.
I’ve said many intriguing and/or odd things since then.


[8] Because I am a




Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine



Zealand Liquor News Magazine



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