That is one of the reasons I fight with my printer so much. Yesterday, for example, it turned itself on [1] to announce that it had – despite not being used for two days and only then on gray scale – run out of magenta ink. This somehow meant that it could no longer print in black and white the contract that I really need to sign today.

Not all traditions have my support. Take the monarchy (please), avocado being considered food and it supposedly being bad luck to kill a spider as just three examples. The reason that “tradition” is the subject for this mid-length opening introduction is that Ciaran, the Valuable, Voluble and Thaumaturgical Malthouse Unit Manager, has requested [2] another blog that is – in technical terms, stay with me here – “mainly about beer.”

I noted last week that a post “mainly about beer” was a “serious break with a long-standing tradition”. Now, it has shockingly happened for a record second week in a row. The previous record was two “mainly about beer” blogs in six calendar months. That was back in the summer of 2009 when the world was a very different place. [3]

The first brewery to be featured is Magic Rock from picturesque Huddersfield in the United Kingdom. [4] They got off to a slow start in 2011 taking a full six months to be crowned 2nd Best New Brewery in the World over at the influential RateBeer website. This was a simply fantastic achievement as the RateBeer folk pull no punches when it comes to reviews.

For example, while I was researching another beer article yesterday I checked to see the RateBeer score for my beloved Skol Super Strength Lager – the first beer I ever reviewed in print and still a guilty pleasure when I can find it. It scored 1 – probably only because there is absolutely nothing lower. By contrast, both Magic Rock beers at Malthouse score in the mid-90s on the RateBeer website.

Magic Rock High Wire (5.5%) is an unabashed homage to the West Coast Pale Ales so popular with Malthouse punters. The hop list is close to my ultimate Top of the Hops hit parade – Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Citra, Columbus and Magnum. It is hop-forward but balanced with notes of grapefruit, mango, lemon and caramel.

Described as “the same but different”, Magic Rock High Wire Grapefruit (5.5%) take exactly the same beer and adds in pink grapefruit. The base flavours remain but there are new levels of grapefruit, tartness and lemon peel. It sounds like a great beer for fruit beer lovers, or an interesting entry beer for drinkers who do not like too much bitterness.

The title of this blog “The Magic Rock is back” was inspired by the classic Magic Fridge beer ad. Well, an ad for Bud Light but it is still very funny. A link is included at the bottom – it is only thirty seconds or so. Recommended – it is almost Fox Hat ad good.

Coming on tap from Wednesday 15 February (today) is Epic Champagne D’Geddon IPA (9.1%). Malthouse is hosting the Wellington Launch of this experimental beer which sees the award winning Epic Armageddon IPA brewed with fermented Sauvignon Blanc grape juice from Marlborough. Clearly the grape juice has boosted the alcohol content significantly. It will be fascinating to see if grapes and hops play nicely together. Those wanting to find out should follow Malthouse social media for the exact launch times.

As noted last blog, Malthouse is pouring two new collaborative beers from Hop Federation and Epic under their “House of Nicholas” brand. House of Nicholas Hop A (6.8%) and House of Nicholas Hop B (6.8%) are India Pale Ales but which showcase different hops. I cannot find any official announcement of what they are – I suspect they will be revealed after the brewers receive drinkers’ feedback on social media. Last week, Hop A was ahead on Untapped by .04 out of 5. Hop B has staged a miraculous comeback and now leads by a slightly wider margin of .07. I maintain the only scientific way to split them is through a side by side tasting – maybe with friends.

The 8 Wired Hippy Berliner (4%) is in the Hopinator this week. Brewer Soren Erikson described this Berliner Weisse as “not very traditional because it is dry hopped with Amarillo, Simcoe, Citra and Riwaka hops. However, I wanted to keep the bitterness low so the beer is obviously tart but not super sour. To me, it tastes a lot like grapefruit juice, but not as sour or as sweet.” I was immediately intrigued to see what hops would be selected to accompany it in the Modus Hopperandus (Hopinator).

And the answer is… “There are no hops in there at all, you silly beer writer.” It seems the Hopinator has a profound and long lasting allergy to hops. Instead, Hippy Berliner will flow over hibiscus and rosehip. [5]

Next time, we drink to Labour leader Andrew Little who for Valentine’s Day made a bold bid to take Colin Craig’s title of “Worst Poem by a New Zealand Political Party Leader.” Here is the full text as it may have “disappeared” off Twitter by now:

“Roses are red

Violets are blue

I can’t wait to win the election with you.”

Actually, it was produced by Young Labour and it is not clear whether they ran it past his office first. Mr Little has previously read several of his poems out in Parliament so it gave the story a certain credibility initially. It is not like Bill English popped up suddenly exclaiming an ode to love he wrote for V-Day. Joking aside, I would pay money to read a poem written personally by Bill English…

[1] Quite an achievement by itself. If the printer ever becomes fully sentient that may spell the end of this blog.

[2] If “request” means “require and here is the deadline.”

[3] Yep – this blog started in October 2008. This is issue 394 for these keeping score at home

[4] Correctly pronounced “’udderzfeld.”

[5] This only one step away pouring sour beer over avocado in the Hopinator.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine


Magic Rock Brewery –

Magic Fridge ad on YouTube –

Epic Brewing Company –

8 Wired Brewery –

Malthouse Facebook –

Malthouse Twitter –!/malthouse

Malthouse Taps on Twitter –!/MalthouseTaps

Neil Miller on Twitter –!/beerlytweeting