While writing this blog, I wondered what movie franchises got through to their seventh instalment and the results were frankly mixed. Most of them I had never heard of, but there was the good (Star Wars), the started out good but then just got sad (Rocky, Lassie), and the plain horrible the whole time (Police Academy, Smokey and the Bandit). For the record, I don’t count Saw as a movie.

What is your name and job title?

“My name is Sam and I am one of the duty managers at Malthouse and part-time cellar monkey – hauling kegs around, making sure we have the right taps lined up and ensuring we have a good range of products available consistently. The rest of the time I am just making sure that everyone else has a good time.”   

How long have you been involved in the hospitality industry?

“I started off with a part-time job in a bar my dad used to drink at back home. I got into it properly at uni, worked in a pretty crappy Irish pub for about six months. [2] Irish bars do teach you as they are usually very busy so you have to throw beer after beer after vodka and coke. It teaches you to work quickly and efficiently – the basic skills of working in a busy environment.

Then I got a job in a bar in Scotland called the Hanging Bat which is a pretty cool little craft beer bar. Went in and found some solidarity with one of the barmen who had been screwed over by the same big umbrella pub company that I. He hired me. It was great. I did not really know much about beer at the time – this was four years ago. Then it was full-time in the summer before I came out to New Zealand.”

How long have you been at Malthouse and why did you pick it?

“I have been at the Malthouse for just about two years now. Stu McKinlay [from Yeastie Boys] is friends with my boss from Scotland. So we met for a pint and he took me round some great craft beer bars. We went to the Fork & Brewer and that is where I met Ciaran. Had a pint with Ciaran but he had to leave to go interview a potential crew member at Malthouse. Stu rather cheekily said “hey Sam is looking for a job – why don’t you interview him?”

I ran back home, had a shower, a coffee and a think about my life. Then shot out to Malthouse and just had a bit of a chat about beers and bars and life. I got a trial shift a couple of days later and Malthouse basically stole me.

Malthouse is a great place and you get the versatility of working in a really awesome craft beer bar with an exceptional range of products, but it is also in Courtney Place so you do get that busy hum. You get the best of both worlds. I feel like I am writing my own CV here!

There are some good cheap beers on tap. We have Fork & Brewer DRAFT for $7:50. People see the price and say “oh, is there a happy hour on?” It is about offering the entire spectrum of beers. I am not here to judge you if you really want a $9 Heineken (though I might offer you an alternative).”

Why did you pick New Zealand?

“It was a coin flip between New Zealand and Canada. I did not get my Canadian visa as quickly as got my New Zealand visa. [3] I was only planning to stay here a year and then bugger off home via South East Asia, or whatever it is that travellers usually do, but stayed here because it is an incredible country and the people here are awesome. Not really planning on going back home quite just yet.”

What is the worst thing a customer can do?

“I love this question! Without getting into specifics: don’t be rude, just be polite. I can name a million ways of being discourteous – clicking fingers, waving money, slamming a handful of cash on the table and expecting us to be their personal accountant. Please and thank you – it is not hard. Oh and no whistling as we are not your pet dog. [4] We are more than just a vending machine; we are people too.”

What are the best aspects about working in hospitality?

“Just people – you talk to hundreds and hundreds of people a day. You meet people from all over New Zealand and the world. If it is quiet you can sit at the bar with them, have a chat and learn about what they have been up to. You also meet a lot of staff from other bars and restaurants and you make sure they are looked after in your bar. It’s great fun.”

What are the worst aspects about working in hospitality?

“No one does this for the money! It is worth it but the long hours can be a bit of a trial [5] – casual thirteen and a half hour day yesterday. You do always have to be in a good mood which can be tough at times. Even you are having a crappy day, when you come out behind the bar you put your game face on. I can’t think of many downsides really.”

What is in the future for you? Is hospitality going to be your career?

“No – It’s probably been longer than I thought it would already. I studied biotechnology at University in Edinburgh for four years – it is the technology of biology. [6] I needed a break from education, went travelling and started work in a bar. You do have to have a real passion for hospitality. You need to be able to talk about every single item you might sell someone. It makes you appreciative of other people’s service when you go into a bar.

In terms of going forward, a number of Malthouse staff are taking baby steps towards getting a brew label together. I have been homebrewing for four years. Seeing your own beer on tap for the first time would be really pleasant. If it gets a good reception, you can be proud – “we did that”.”

What is your guilty beer secret?

“This judging people for what they drink – I just don’t care! I don’t think any more or less of someone who sits down and says “I’m going to have five pints of Stella tonight.”  Taking a crate of cold Heineken to a barbecue on a hot day is the best decision made by anyone ever. I would have no shame in doing that. Beer is a social drink, it is not always about putting your nose in a tulip glass trying to pick up hints of passionfruit and mango. I just want something fizzy to go with this burger I just slapped on the barbecue.

If I did have a guilty beer pleasure, well, Malthouse did get 48 cans of Tenants Lager recently. We have sold five of them – I bought three of those. It got me through uni!”

What are your three desert island beers?

“I am going to pick my three favourite beers of all time but I don’t know I want to drink them for the rest of my life. I’m going to go one light, one dark and one weird.

Wild Beer BrettBrett – 8.5% double IPA fermented with Brettanomyces (wild yeast). It is a science project in a bottle. Being bottle conditioned means it is not a static beer, I’m cellaring one for a year to see what the Brett will do to it over time. It can be two beers at once, or even a whole spectrum of beers – and it tastes incredible.

Renaissance Craftsman – Chocolate oatmeal stout which tastes like blended, whizzed up chocolate cake. So rich and so decadent and I don’t usually have much of a sweet tooth. And it comes in a 500ml bottle which is always a bonus.

Lindemans Oud Kriek Cuvee Rene – It is sour, battery acid tart, the cherry is so multi-dimensional, there is oak in there. Everything about it, including the classy label, is just so impressive.”

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

If it is on: Garage Project Los Lobos – One keg only [7]

If it is not on: Croucher ANZUS – “Tasting awesome, trying to recommend it to people.”

Double Vision Red Rascal Red IPA – “Tasting great, their best so far.”

Speaking of the Hunt for Red October Red Beer Showcase, this Friday from midday the rufescent ale going on tap at Malthouse is Lord Almighty Stone Forest IPA. It is a 6.4% American Red IPA which is highly hopped with Citra and Amarillo (two of their favourite hops – and mine). Remember, like all Red October beers, this is a new brew and Friday will be its launch. Lord Almighty will be sending another couple of beers to guard their beloved Stone Forest.

Also on Friday, Malthouse marks the annual beer tradition of Oktoberfest with a Hofbrau tap takeover featuring the following Hofbrau brews: Original, Weisse, Schwarze Weisse, Dunkel, Maibock and Oktoberfest. Doubtless some of the bar staff will chose – or more likely to be forced – to don the dreaded lederhosen which spend most of the year locked in the Cupboard of Doom (that strange door by the lounge).

Next Thursday there will be an exclusive (25 person) beer and cheese event with noted British Beer Writer Melissa Cole. There will be more details in the blog next week or on the Facebook page (below). Punters should book in advance (email or phone) there will be door sales but places are selling like hot cakes!

Next time, we drink to the brand new Epic Dankomatic IPA – a beer that claims to be so hoppy that it is “full of alligators.” Where did they get such a ludicrous idea?

[1] Except when I accidently copy over a completed interview and have to do it all again. Sorry Jules…

[2] This appears to be a very common career step for Malthouse staff.

[3] That might be the first recorded instance of this ever happening.

[4] Alert readers will note there are a few specifics listed – but definitely not a million.

[5] This is the one word where I had trouble with Sam’s accent – so it could be troll, drag or something else entirely.

[6] Sam’s explanation was much longer but that was the only bit I understood. This was not related to accent – simply subject ignorance on behalf of the interviewer.

[7] As requested by Sam, I am footnoting that I made Homer Simpson drooling noises when he said “Los Lobos”.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine


Beer and Cheese event – https://www.facebook.com/events/195352847557163/

Melissa Cole Blog – http://www.letmetellyouaboutbeer.co.uk/

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