We had the Zika virus, the Hurricanes won the Super Rugby competition, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (Brexit), Mark Harmon is still alive, Fidel Castro is finally dead, [1] the United States elected Donald Trump as President (Trumpsit), Ireland beat the All Blacks at rugby, John Key resigned as Prime Minister (Keysit), PJ O’Rourke wrote a new book, North Korea launched a rocket into space, the last video recorder (VCR) ever was made, [2] there was a new Star Wars film, JK Rowling became a billionaire again, and the Maldives left the Commonwealth of Nations.

At this time of year lazy journalists always produce “Year in Review” columns or “Top Ten” lists. Not me however – I am lazy, but I am not a journalist. [3] Ciaran the benighted, beloved and bedazzled Unit Manager of Malthouse asked me to provide a quick recap of the 2016 at Malty. I am indebted to oblige. [4] Here we go:

Sourfest: Many sour beers were served. Sorry.

Hopstock: Many fresh hopped beers were served. You are welcome.

Whisky Month: I have only vague memories of this but I am pretty sure it ruled.

Darkest Days: A festival designed to celebrate dark beers and annoy me at the same time. Mission Accomplished.

Gin Month: I had never thought of craft beer and craft gin as a pairing. I was of course totally wrong. The Time Person of the Year should be the Pipewrench.

West Coast IPA Challenge: This is the highlight of my (paper-based) beer calendar and I have been honoured (and vaguely surprised) to have been a judge for all nine iterations of this noble event. Here are my next day tasting notes of the winning beer:

Moa Perris Sky Juice (Blenheim) 7.2%“This beer is clear and frankly very pretty in the glass. The aroma is like getting smacked in the face with a sack of sweet Valencia oranges. It is juicy and full, with a late ambush of hop bitterness. Dear fellow judges – we chose wisely.”

Beervana: It rocked the party that rocks the party.

Pirate Life Takeover: Arrrrrrrr!

Yeastie Noise Beer and Music Match: Asking people to match unusual beers to underground music – yep – must be the Yeastie Boys. It also goes on record as the first beer contest in New Zealand to have the brewer’s pants as first prize.

Red October: So many red ales, so many Sean Connery references, so many sales.

Session Beer Session: I predicted the session beer trend years ago, but no one is more astonished than me that I was actually right. These beers are full flavoured without the alcohol – but also probably a lot of thanks to the new drink driving limit too.

Canberra Tap Take Over: Canberra Week in Wellington overall may have been postponed because a pesky earthquake or 2,987, but the beer still poured at the Malthouse. The Canberra beer scene has improved dramatically in recent years – albeit from a low base.

It is the festive season. Amazingly, I have actually done my Christmas shopping and put up my Christmas “tree”. That is why this blog is late. Here are the opening hours for the Malthouse over the break:

Christmas Eve – Last call at 10.30pm

Christmas Day – Closed

Boxing Day – Open from midday

New Year’s Eve – Party!

New Year’s Day – Closed

January 2nd – Open

In terms of beer there is currently Epic Son of Thor, a 6.7% American IPA. This beer literally smacks of hops! It is also being put through the beloved Hopinator (“the Modus Hopperandus”) over habanero chillies. [5] I am starting to warm to beer with chillies. Also on tap is Epic Thor a 8.8% hammer wielding, lightning bolt, chewy hop daddy of an American IPA.

Next time, we drink to Die Hard – because it is not Christmas until I see Hans Gruber fall off the Nakatomi Tower.

[1] “Sic semper evello mortem tyrannis” (“Thus always I bring death to tyrants”).

[2] I still have two – just in case all my Steven Seagal videos are not transferred to Blu-Ray.

[3] Journalists need to be balanced and do research and stuff. Apparently. Oh, and the first blog next year will be a Top Ten list.

[4] The man has control of my bar tab… and my heart. (Another test to see if he reads these blogs before posting.)

[5] Amazingly, the Hopinator contains no actual hops again… that sums up 2016!


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine


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