Having filled in all the cultural events, the next entries in my diary are beer related. These include (but are not limited to) Beervana, Brewers Guild of New Zealand Beer Awards, Great Kiwi Beer Festival, MarchFest, Greater Wellington Brew Day, Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge, the Okere Falls Beer Fest and Hopstock. For the record, the next of those events is Hopstock which started at noon today – just saying.

I love Hopstock more than Hon Gerry Brownlee loves a buffet. [2] The fourth Craft Beer Capital Hopstock festival has started in 21 of Wellington’s best beer venues (including Malthouse and the Fork & Brewer) and will run from April 13 to April 18 2016. Hopstock is a celebration of New Zealand’s hop harvest, specifically the fresh-hopped beers that can only be crafted in a very small window following the annual hop harvest.

As I have said about 8 Wired Fresh HopWired IPA (2016) (7.3%) – now on tap at Malthouse – the only thing better than lots of hops is lots of fresh hops. This prompted me to describe the beer as “like motorboating a magical hop bale while riding a unicorn.” Amazingly, this has not caught on as a catchphrase and will not be appearing on the bottle labels. Still, it is an incredible beer.

Speaking of incredible beers, at the recent Great Kiwi Beer Festival in Christchurch I used my cherished media pass (all access) [3] to secure one of the first official tastes of Epic The Stone Hammer IPA (7%) on draught. [4] Unlike my beloved Hop Zombie, the Hammer actually tasted stronger than its alcohol percentage, bursting with fresh citrus notes from shedloads of Citra, Mosaic and Simcoe hops. [5] It is the firm caramel backbone which makes it so drinkable. I had two [6] to confirm this and it was my beer of the Festival. The Hammer is now on tap at Malthouse.

For those unable to handle the Hammer – “the only thing that can kill Hop Zombies” (TM pending) – there is always the classic Epic Armageddon IPA (6.66%) on tap. As I named this beer and wrote the bottle label (coining the phrase “Impish Brewer”) I feel I cannot impartially review it. So I turned to my good friend Roger Protz (English beer writer and gentleman rarely seen in public without a tie) who wrote in his book “300 More Beers to Try Before You Die” [7] about Armageddon:

“The pale copper-coloured beer has an enormous blast of lemon and grapefruit on the nose from the hops along with hop resins and slightly toasted/oatmeal malt. Bittersweet fruit, oatcakes and massive, iodine-like hop bitterness coat the mouth while the finish is long and complex, with tangy fruit, bitter and biscuit malt vying for attention.”

ParrotDog HighTime IPA (6.9%) continues the fine tradition of beers that have won the coveted Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge becoming commercially successful beers. The three Matts from ParrotDog took the top prize in the 2015 Challenge. As a judge, I noted at the time “this was an incredible achievement because, right up to the last minute, it was not certain HighTime would even be in the Challenge due to some technical issues at the nearby brewery. It not only made it but took out the coveted Golden Gumboots with a chewy, assertively hopped and well balanced IPA.” Personally, I think it tastes even better now.

I am contractually compelled by Ciaran, the brainy, Buddhistic yet bonny Malthouse Unit Manager, to mention that in addition to the hoppy libations there are some “strange beers” on tap at Malthouse. These include the Lindeman’s range of Belgian sour and fruit beers – Lindeman’s Faro, Gueuze, Framboise and Kriek will be on tap over the weekend, so stay tuned to the social net webs. I won’t be trying them for five good reasons and let me tell you why:

1)    Some of them are fruit beers

2)    8 Wired Fresh HopWired is on tap

3)    Some of them are sour beers

4)    Epic The Stone Hammer is on tap

5)    I fear change. I vote National.

Coming up shortly after Hopstock [8] Malthouse will be hosting a fresh hop showcase featuring beers from Liberty, Baylands, Choice Bros, Hop Federation, Wild and Woolly, Fork Brewing and Te Aro. More details will follow once we get through the Hopstock maelstrom.

The title of today’s blog was taken from the most famous work of Clement Clarke Moore (July 15, 1779 – July 10, 1863) who was a writer and American Professor of Oriental and Greek Literature, as well as Divinity and Biblical Learning, at the General Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church in New York City. Gentle readers probably know him better as the (disputed) author of “Twas the night before Christmas.” Well, deep in that poem is the line is “the leaves that before the wild hurricane fly” which I have ‘adjusted’ for this blog title. That is right, I quoted poetry. From a book.

Next time we drink to Salli Anttonen of the University of Eastern Finland and her study in Metal Music Studies, beautifully titled “‘Hypocritical Bullshit Performed Through Gritted Teeth’: Authenticity Discourses in Nickelback’s Album Reviews in Finnish Media”. Basically it is scientific proof as to why so many people (apart from David Warner) dislike Nickelback. (Link below)

[1] I am profoundly colour blind. When I bought my apartment I thought my living room was painted dark blue and lived with that impression for a year until a party guest got drunk, fell through my oven door (thankfully the oven was not on) and gleefully told me it had been purple the whole time.

[2] True story – I was at a buffet with said Minister and joked “I’m nervous – I’m behind Gerry Brownlee in the buffet line.” A voice behind me immediately replied “you are nervous? I’m in the line behind Gerry and you.” Well played Hon Steven Joyce.

[3] Only too late did I realise that “all access” meant I could have gone backstage and had a beer with Jordan Luck – my favourite New Zealand musician of all time. For the record, he rocked but I did not dance.

[4] I say “official” because I’m pretty sure that Luke Nicholas, the Impish Brewer, had tried it before. Possibly more than once – but only for quality control purposes.

[5] Citra, Mosaic and Simcoe hops – my one weakness, my Achilles Heel if you will.

[6] Actual number may vary.

[7] Spoiler alert: this is a sequel to his earlier book “300 Beers to Try before You Die.”

[8] Handsome Pete Moran has asked that everyone remembers to use the hashtag #hopstock2016 when discussing the event on social media.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine

New Zealand Liquor News Magazine


Hopstock – http://craftbeercapital.com/hopstock/about

Science proves the Nickelback thing – http://mentalfloss.com/article/78221/scientific-explanation-why-everyone-hates-nickelback?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Partner&utm_campaign=WHM

Malthouse Facebook – www.facebook.com/pages/Malthouse/7084276173

Malthouse Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/malthouse

Malthouse Taps on Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/MalthouseTaps

Neil Miller on Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/#!/beerlytweeting