My first pipe wrench was Epic Armageddon IPA (6.66%) with Tanqueray 10 Gin (47.3%) and that all important piece of zest. [2] My second pipe wrench was exactly the same, as was the third – because it was a simply beautiful combination of juniper, grapefruit and citrus. Drinkers can choose to drink the beer and gin separately, or mix them together at any stage. My recommendation is to have a little of each – beer first, then gin, then beer again – and then to mix (responsibly of course).

Next weeks pipe wrench is a very different beast. It is comprised of Wild Beer III Barley Wine (9%) – think dark, caramel, wild berries, tangerine and tartness – paired with Ketel One Jenever Gin (35%) – think sharp citrus over a rye backbone – and, the crucial ingredient which ties it altogether, a perfect olive. Ciaran, the bantering, barbaric and baronial Malthouse Unit Manager, describes the combination as a “great tasting almost deconstructed dirty martini!” Even through the medium of email I could tell he was hugely excited by this creation.

It is not just officially “June-ipur” but it is now also officially winter. The weather outside strongly supports this argument but my phone, in its infinite wisdom, disagrees. According to said “smart” phone, it is sixteen degrees and it has been sixteen degrees every hour of every day for the last two months. Then again, the same phone insists that I have not left the suburb of Highland Park for a similar period of time. This particularly surprised me when I was in Taihape, and again when I realised I have no idea where Highland Park is.

21st of June 2016 is the shortest and darkest day of the year. To celebrate this event Malthouse will be launching the now annual Darkest Days showcase of porters, stouts and dark beers on the 17th, the weekend before! Lock it in! There will be more than twenty dark, warming libations going on tap, many of which are rare visitors to Wellington, the Craft Beer Capital. Here is a partial list (with a few comments from me in brackets):

Brewaucracy Night Shift (8.9%) – (a barrel aged one off release from this quality Hamilton [3] operation. Last year this fantastic beer received rave reviews and Ciaran, the bantering, barbaric and baronial Malthouse Unit Manager has been ‘Squirreling away’ the last keg until now!

Funk Estate Afrogato (8.5%) – (an imperial stout inspired by the classic Italian dessert affogato – think coffee, vanilla ice cream and amaretto). [4]

Garage Project Cabbages and Kings (12%) – (an imperial oyster horopito stout brewed with fresh Te Matua Bay Pacific oysters, horopito and Manuka smoked malt. Be ye King or Cabbage?) 2015 Vintage

Renaissance Rangipur (9.3%) – (a big assertive double India Stout from a former Champion Brewery of New Zealand). Last Keg

Renaissance The Woodsman (6.6%) – (an extremely rare Belgian Milk Stout with notes of cocoa nibs, coffee and wine. It is a collaboration brew between Renaissance Brewing, graphic company ‘Paper Rain Project’ and Seresin Estate Wines. The beer has been aged in Seresin’s pinot noir oak barrels). Last keg

Magic Rock Common Grounds Porter (5.5%) – (from Yorkshire, a coffee beer that even Wellingtonians will have to take seriously. Made in collaboration with local roaster Dark Woods, Common Grounds uses 7 different malts with 7 different coffees added at 3 different points during the brew). [5]

Magic Rock Dark Arts Stout (6%) – (from West Yorkshire to be more precise, a dark but hoppy stout which promises to draw anyone over to the dark side).

Thornbridge Cocoa Wonderland Porter (6.8%) – (our chums at England’s Thornbridge Brewery brewed a chocolate porter with proper chocolate to celebrate Cocoa Wonderland’s 10th Anniversary. The aim was to produce a beer resembling a chocolate liqueur to tempt even the staunchest non-beer drinkers).

Hop Federation Barrel Aged Stout 2014 (7%) – (brewed with six specialty malts and aged in barrels, this deep black beer has notes of Tiramisu, chocolate and coffee. Dark beer fans cannot wait to see how it has changed from last year’s festival).

ParrotDog/Two Birds American Double Stout (9.2%) – ((three Matts from Wellington collaborated with Two Birds from Melbourne and the result of their “interesting” brewing day was a 9.2% Double Stout described as “big, black and deceivingly smooth”). Last keg

Bear in mind, this week’s exciting list is less than half of the full line-up… The remainder will be profiled next week.

Next time, we drink to Queensland rugby league. Because we won, you lost, eat that… [6]

[1] I really hope that counts as one of my five fruit and vegetables a day…

[2] If I really wanted a piece of zest to count as one of my five a day, I probably should have eaten it…

[3] City of the Future. So be very afraid.

[4] Funk Estate appears to be trying to set the world record for afro related puns. I have every confidence in them.

[5] I think I got a caffeine rush just writing that sentence.

[6] One of the most famous quotes Sir Michael Cullen never, ever actually said.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine

New Zealand Liquor News Magazine


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