Next month, Malthouse is debuting “June-ipur” – a celebration of gin. As we all know, thanks to Wikipedia, “gin is a spirit which derives its predominant flavour from juniper berries (Juniperus communis). From its earliest origins in the Middle Ages, gin has evolved over the course of a millennium from a herbal medicine to an object of commerce in the spirits industry. Gin was developed on the basis of the older jenever, and became popular in Great Britain when William of Orange, leader of the Dutch Republic, occupied the English, Scottish and Irish thrones with his wife Mary.“

 Gin and I have had a complicated relationship over the years and I’m pretty sure it’s pretty much all my fault. My first gin drinking experience was in the back yard of a legendary flat in Mount Cook many years ago. Sitting in cheap deck chairs on a soggy lawn, Ash [3] and I drank lots of (terrible) gin and (passable) tonic with a few lemons thrown in, just so we met our five a day fruit and vegetable target. [4]

 Eventually, when Ash tried to stand up to go to the bathroom he found his chair had sunk six inches into the watery soil. I laughed and laughed right up until the moment I realised that my far greater body mass [5] meant my own chair was almost a foot into our lawn. He graciously helped me out. Otherwise, I may still be there – thank you Gordon’s Gin.

 It is completely unfair to condemn a world-famous spirit based on one youthful chair-related disaster with budget gin that should not be fed to your cats. Gin is – and has long been – a drink of thinkers, poets, artists, musicians and the guy who was lucky enough to be married to the very foxy Dame Margaret Thatcher – yes, Sir Denis Thatcher once said “I don’t know what reception I’m at, but for God’s sake give me a gin and tonic.” Just when I thought I could not love him any more…

 However, another of my knighted role models disagrees with the D. Sir Kingsley Amis argues “gin and water is an all round improvement on gin and tonic: cheaper, less fattening and less filling, as well as not being not sweet or gassy. Gin is a real and interesting drink, carefully prepared with those botanicals and all, and it deserves to be sampled with its flavour unimpaired. Try it un-iced, with a little Malvern water – and nothing else. Very comforting in cold weather. Do this persistently and you will find marked differences between brands.”

 I’m going to have to go ahead and argue with two Knights of the Realm. In fact, I am going to have to make it real and drop a pipe wrench.

 Yeah, I did that.

 A pipe wrench is a mix of gin and beer – usually high quality gin and highly-hopped IPA. I was sceptical of the concept right up until tasting Epic Hop Zombie with a shot of gin. After one taste I was the most charming man on the planet. Two tastes I was the most charming man in the universe. From my notes anyhow. Bottom line – pipe wrenches are awesome but you can also enjoy a beer and gin separately. And that is where “June-ipur” comes in.

 On every Monday in June, Malthouse will be matching one of their many gins to one of their many beers. Ciaran the bootylicious, benzoic and besotted Malthouse unit manager says it will be a “deconstructed pipe wrench, if you will.” A pipe wrench is a thing of beauty – but should be approached with a certain caution because it sneaks up on you like Reese Bolton on Game of Thrones.

 Furthermore, on every Tuesday in June Malthouse will be giving the famous SOBA discount on all of their gins. Asked to explain such an outrageous offer, Ciaran (insert three adjectives starting with B here) said “But Why?! Pray tell?” Because gin is the enlightened white spirit, as complex and thought provoking as an IPA and it’s awesome! We will also be offering 20% savings to all our loyalty card holders when they buy a gin on the day.”

 The English beer invasion has begun with Wild Beer Ninkasi (9% -“Belgian-style Saison with a copious amount of New Zealand hops, freshly harvested Somerset apple juice and wild yeast. However, just to take things that bit further — once bottled, it undergoes a secondary champagne yeast fermentation”), and Wild Beer Witness (5.8% – Bretted Pale Ale with more funkiness than Chuck Norris on a bender).

 There are also a number of New Zealand beers on tap including Moa Festive IPA (6.4%), Epic Hop Zombie (8.5% – I may be familiar with their work), Epic Eric the Red (a red IPA but still not bad), Bach Brewing Dusk Rider (a multi-award winning Red IPA and rightly so), and Liberty Alpha Lord (an imperial Pilsner that I thought I had drunk all of at Malty but apparently not). [6] Oh, and the latest beer from Kelly “don’t call me Frodo” Ryan is now on tap – Fork Brewing Simcode (7% – strong American Pilsner showcasing Simcoe hops).

 Next time, we drink to Corporal Radar O’Reilly – I wish I was half that organised.

[1] Mobile Army Surgical Hospital – 4077 to be precise.

[2] When you are routinely beating the Super Bowl in the ratings – you are a pop culture hit. The record would not be beaten until 2010. Even then the Super Bowl did not beat their share of viewers.

[3] I’m going to call him that because it is his name. Well, part of it anyway.

[4] How you doing?

[5] Ash has the “world’s most perfect upper body”. Just ask him!

[6] Thanks to alert readers who spotted my deliberate mistake last week when I may have referred to this beer as an IPA.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine

New Zealand Liquor News Magazine


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