You know, that famous meteorological phenomenon caused by the reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets which creates a multicoloured arc in the sky. [1] Those songs include “Rainbow in the Dark” by Dio, “Rainbow Colours” by the Academy Award Winning Three 6 Mafia, “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” by Leslie Gore, [2] and of course the world famous in New Zealand “Rainbow’s End theme park song”.

Historically, the premier rainbow song has to be “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” originally sung by Judy Garland in the 1929 movie “The Wizard of Oz”. However, many prefer Kermit the Frog’s “Rainbow Connection” from the first (and best) “Muppet Movie” (1979). As often happens, I have a different perspective.

Growing up in the United Kingdom I watched a lot of “Rainbow”, a cheesy children’s show which, frankly, has not stood the test of time. It had a cast of overly earnest people wearing rainbow sweaters, a guy in a bear suit who completely defined goody-good and an effeminate pink dragon called George. [3] There was also Zippy, an opinionated and loud-mouthed know it all puppet. Obviously, he was and still is my favourite.

The title of this blog – “up above the streets and houses, rainbow climbing high” – is the first line of Rainbow’s opening song. It incited listeners to “paint the whole world with a rainbow.” However, it also confused colour blind wee kids such as me by declaring that red is both the colour of a sunrise and the colour of a sunset. Aw c’mon! Things are hard enough for us already. [4]

There is another rainbow – The International Rainbow Project: A celebration of collaborative and innovative brewing. This project pairs seven of the best breweries in the United Kingdom with seven of the best breweries from a chosen country or region. Each pairing is randomly drawn a colour of the rainbow which then has to be used to inspire a collaborative brew. The organisers noted that “this year we’re hugely excited to be working with seven of the most exciting breweries in New Zealand.”

On Thursday 1 December 2016 Malthouse will be pouring five of the Rainbow Project beers which all just arrived from the United Kingdom last week. Obviously, I have not been able to taste these beers so I will be relying on brewers’ notes:

Red: Beavertown/ParrotDog Universal Mind ‘Adambier’ (10.5%) – Beavertown beautifully notes that “everybody (eeeeverybody) at ParrotDog is called Matt, so one can safely assume the whole brewery is a cloning experiment with varying degrees of success. [5] This success became all the more apparent when we attempted to start an email thread with all of the Matts copied in.”

Luckily, the hive mind was on our level and we loved the idea of going with some sort of historical or extinct style that’s rarely seen – which is where the idea of brewing an “Adambier” cropped up. This beer is our twist on a historic Dortmund recipe; started with traditional German malts, a touch of Scottish peat smoke, golden naked oats for a creamy body, and then finished with loads of Molasses and brown sugar, aged in Marsala barrels.”

“At 10.5% ABV its not to be taken lightly though, look after yourselves folks. Adambier is traditionally a strong, smoky, top-fermenting sour beer that spends around 2 years in barrel. Whilst it’s similar to Belgian beers of its time, it has an unusually high hop content. Ours forgoes that much time in barrel and is, as a result, a little more rounded, less sour, but still smoky. Originally brewed around the turn of last century by a brewery called “Dortmund,” in Germany, it faded into extinction as taste and preference shifted to lighter beers such a traditional pilsners and lagers – the only brewery we know of brewing one is Hair Of The Dog in Oregon, with “Adam.””

Green: Hawkshead/Yeastie Boys Kai Moana Gose (6%): This is described as a seafood and green gooseberry Gose. Because, you know, Gose is not weird enough already with the addition of salt water. Here are some customer tasting notes from the Hawkshead website:

  • “Superb! Salty, smooth sweet all rolled into one. I get the fruity notes as well.”
  • “Great sharp, citrus taste. A slightly salty finish. Entirely refreshing and moreish. Give me another”
  • “Smooth silky (oyster) finish with a salty gooseberry hit!”
  • “Fresh, salty, hoppy and utterly drinkable”

Indigo: Siren/Garage Project Black Light Banana Imperial Stout (9.2%): Now, I may be colour blind but even I do not associate bananas with the “colour” indigo. [6] The brewers clearly anticipated this rather obvious question and began their explanation of the beer with the answer:

“Ripe bananas uniquely glow bright indigo under UV lights, with researchers putting it down to the unique way that bananas break down chlorophyll as they ripen. But why? One possible theory is that it makes the bananas visible as a food source to animals that see in UV range, like bats.”

As for the beer, Soren writes:

“After drawing the colour indigo, the prospect of creating a blacklight inspired brew quickly became a reality in the form of a 9.2% imperial stout. [We used] 200kg of molasses, 100kg of fresh blow-torched bananas, a unique blend of German and house Vermont yeast strains and complemented them with more banana – 100kg of banana puree to be specific! For a final tasty coup de grace, bourbon barrel aged coffee was added to the already spectacular mix.”

Blue: Wild Beer/8Wired Black and Blue Wild Ale (5%): Wild Beer (UK) and 8Wired (NZ) decided to draw on French cuisine as inspiration for this beer which the mere thought of frankly had me cowering behind the couch for ten minutes. Here are the brewers’ notes:

“A raw sour ale brewed with green, black and white peppercorns in the mash, this black and blue brew has zero hops and wasn’t boiled. However, it did find its way into re-charred bourbon barrels for 6 months. The abstract take on a classic French black & blue steak packs a good amount of acidity from fermentation with Wild Beer Co’s house cultures. For a final finishing touch, or a ‘steak sauce’, the peppercorns were added. A beer that you definitely sink your teeth into.”

Yellow: Magic Rock/Fork Brewing The Upside Down (UK Version) Soured Fruited Witbier (6.7%): Fork Head Brewer Kelly Ryan used to brew in Britain at the excellent Thornbridge Brewery. These days he plies his trade at the Fork Brewing in Wellington (located inside the Fork & Brewer brewpub). [7] He appears to have enough time to write very extensive brewing notes for obscure beers. Here are the edited highlights of his (marvellous) blog post (link below):

“Yellow was the inspiration behind The Upside Down, a 6.7% Soured Fruited Witbier, in a collaboration that spanned oceans, time zones and hemispheres, between Fork Brewing and Magic Rock Brewing in the UK for the Rainbow Project 2016. With The Rainbow Project, every pair of brewers get given a random colour of the rainbow and we got Yellow! Not too much of a novelty, as many beers are yellow, so we had to think outside of the hat!” [8]

“It happened to be fortuitous timing that Magic Rock Production Manager and Lead Brewer, Nick Zeigler and Kelly were able to meet up at this year’s World Beer Cup in Philadelphia to put their heads together and brain spawn a beer yellow and delicious. After the standard downtime of deliberation, they settled on a kettle-soured, tropically fruity, Wit hybrid with a couple of interesting twists.”

“After discussion with Nick, we started narrowing down possible ingredients that provided us with yellow inspiration: chamomile, coriander seeds, turmeric, annatto seeds, pineapples, mangos, passion fruit, lemons, etc. We threw out heaps of ideas and concepts and a recipe began to take shape.”

“Nick worked on the grist (the grains used in the brew) and came up with a wonderful fruity combination of hops that would accentuate the fruit and spices used in the brew. Big, passion fruit and raspberry Mosaic, the wonderfully tropical Citra and the lemon and lime notes of Equinox would work perfectly with liberal dosings of pureed mangoes and passionfruit juice, with the spices adding a subtle background hint of citrus, white pepper and ginger.”

“The brew was based around the kettle souring process, and the decision was made to sour to a slightly higher pH with our Lactic Acid Bacteria strains (around pH 3.4-3.6). A big late addition of hops was used in the brew house and the fermentation used a yeast once known as Brettanomyces bruxellensis that has now been reclassified as Saccharomyces bruxellensis Trois. [9] This strain is massively fruity, throwing off big tropical notes – perfect for this brew.”

If I could summarise the Rainbow Project – and I think I can – it is what happens when brewers based thousands of miles away go completely loony and create unique brews together. Enjoy.

Malthouse is continuing the beer and cheese matching theme with a Brooklyn Brewery (US) session at 7pm on Tuesday 6 December. It will be a combination of amazing and rare beers matched with stunning cheeses. The session will be hosted by Paul Farrell, the man on the ground for Brooklyn Brewery in New Zealand.

The menu includes:

  • Sorachi Ace 7.6% Saison – matched with Saint Felicien dauphinoise & Ossau Iraty
  • K is for Kriek 10.1% Barrel Aged Sour – matched with Valencay Jacquin
  • Intensified Barrel Aged Coffee Porter 11.8% – matched with Moliterno al Tartuffo
  • Improved Old Fashioned 13% – matched with a Rochefort Blue

There are literally only 25 seats available at a more than reasonable $50 per person, which includes a 425ml glass of Brooklyn Lager on arrival. Please book in advance by emailing

Next time, we drink to Ciaran the respectable, polite and sophisticated Malthouse Unit Manager… because he gave me a rubber duck left behind after Kiwicon and I really, really like rubber ducks.

[1] I have to take the word of Professor Wikipedia on the colour issue as I am colour blind. It may be the universe playing yet another prank on me.

[2] I did not claim they were good songs. This one is so saccharine it could cause diabetes.

[3] There were childhood arguments that he was a hippo. In retort, I pointed out that he had wings on his back and was called “George”. He is totally a dragon.

[4] It seems to be compulsory for people who learn you are colour blind to immediately ask what colour every item in a four block radius is. Look, we are not making this condition up, and repeatedly asking what colour your shirt is will not fix us.

[5] I suspect the Matts may be tiring of these jokes. I know I have used it 5,239 times alone.

[6] I am dubious that this is a real colour and suspect it has been made up by paint companies to take advantage of gullible decorators.

[7] Disclaimer: I am a minor shareholder and director of both Fork & Brewer and Fork Brewing.

[8] It is unclear if said hat was full of badgers.

[9] I think, deep down, we all knew this.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine


Rainbow Project Website –

Fork & Brewer Blog Post on Yellow Beer –

“That Rainbow Video” –

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Malthouse Twitter –!/malthouse

Malthouse Taps on Twitter –!/MalthouseTaps

Neil Miller on Twitter –!/beerlytweeting