It would not be unfair to note that I received several responses indicating, in language of various strengths, that my skill as a rugby pundit was “sub-optimal” and my optimism “over-optimal”. These were at the polite end of the commentary spectrum as this is a wholesome family blog.

However, the results do not lie. [1] New Zealand finished fifth while Scotland, by downing Mighty Canada in a pulsating bronze medal game, ended up third. Third is better than fifth which ultimately means “I was right.” I knew I have should have put a lazy fiver on my bold but ultimately prescient prediction. [2]

I watched a couple of the rugby games but, like most people, I was not at Wellington Stadium. [3] Instead, I was sitting at a (shock horror) different table in Malthouse and enjoying the final official day of the “Lift Up Your Kilt – Scottish Session.” The Scottish Session was a rollicking celebration of Scottish culture, fashion, food and beer. Hopefully it becomes an annual fixture on the Malthouse beer calendar. If the diary is getting too crowded they could always drop Sourfest…

The carefully crafted plan for Sunday was to drink Scottish craft beer, enjoy a Lorne sausage sandwich and some deep fried haggis balls, then watch the Scots beat the English. It almost worked. This the time the beer was in the house  and the lads won the rugby against the Auld Enemy, but the Lorne sausage, haggis balls and black pudding had all been utterly consumed the night before. Strangely, there were apparently “plenty” of deep fried Mars Bars left. [4]

I consoled myself with a Double IPA (Marmalade on Rye), a bowl of haggis, some tatties, and victory. It was a pretty good consolation prize overall. I also learned the bitter lesson that thinking longingly about a delicious Lorne sausage sandwich all morning will not make one magically appear. In terms of my health, this is almost certainly a very good thing.

Despite my heroic efforts toasting Scottish victories, there are still a few Scottish craft beers on tap this week and a couple of Epic classics making appearances soon. Here is the current list (with my comments in brackets where applicable):

Tempest Brewery

  • Marmalade On Rye (9%) – Double IPA (my favourite – just ahead of Brave New World which was, sadly, one of the first to go.)
  • In The Dark We Live Black IPA (7.2%)

Up Front Brewing

  • Ishmael (6%) – American style IPA
  • Ahab (6%) American style stout  

Drygate Brewery

  • Orinoco (6%) – Breakfast stout (I almost ordered this by mistake because all I could think about were Wombles from my childhood. Technically, I did order it but alert bar staff quickly went “Neil, are you sure? It is a breakfast stout.” Well spotted and well played. Stupid Sexy Wombles.)
  • Crossing the Rubicon (6.9%) – IPA
  • Disco Fork Lift (5%) – Mango pale ale (This one should ensure I ward off scurvy for another few weeks at least.)

Despite the impressive Scottish craft beer list, I did see a surprising number of punters enjoying the big cans of Tennent’s Lager and the normal sized cans of IRN-BRU. Given that stark choice, give me Tennent’s every time thanks.

Closer to home, Malthouse’s last keg of Epic Saint Luke Milestone Ale (7%) will be on shortly. Luke Nicholas explained that he designed the beer to mark the 20th anniversary of his first day as a brewer – January 17, 1997 – when he started at now defunct Cock & Bull as an assistant to Ben Middlemiss. He added:

“To celebrate those two decades, I’ve created a beer that takes my favourite parts of Monk’s Habit, Epic Pale and Epic Armageddon to make this one special batch. I really enjoy the malt character from Monk’s Habit and I love the Cascade hops in Epic Pale Ale – I’ve used more Cascade than anyone in this country – and then I’ve brought in a couple of secret hops from Armageddon that really make that beer special.”

Purely for research purposes I have tried this beer several times and it is outstanding. However, a part of me wishes that Luke had simply been able to brew a final batch of Monk’s Habit. That was one of the greatest beers ever created in New Zealand and it should have been a National Day of Mourning when Cock & Bull was unceremoniously closed because some short-sighted restaurateurs thought Auckland needed more DB bars. Too many craft beer people never got to try this iconic beverage. In my case, I just did not get to try it enough. [5]

On the way is some Epic Appocolypse Black IPA (6.8%) but is unlikely to be pouring before next week. We may have a more in-depth look at this inky libation in next week’s post, or I might spend the entire column yelling about Donald Trump. That does seem to be quite fashionable these days.

Next time, we drink to the new Han Solo movie which has just started shooting. Finish it, change the name from the terrible placeholder “Red Cup”, then just hurry up and take my money.

[1] Until they are over-turned on a doping conviction or match-fixing scandal of course.

[2] Going to the TAB and demanding large payments because “you knew it all along but forgot to bet” is universally unsuccessful. Well, it has been for me so far.

[3] Don’t get me started on an epic “don’t call it the Cake Tin” rant. My views on this issue are well-known and, well, correct.

[4] I did not see any being eaten but I am assured they were eaten and enjoyed by those with a sweet tooth and robust dental plan.

[5] Mathematicians suggest the concept of me getting “enough” Monk’s Habit is an entirely theoretical construct and could never happen in this universe.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine


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