but the ability to see into the future is not amongst them. A quick glance at my sports betting record will confirm that. Common utterances in my office include “that was a surprise”, “did not see that one coming” and “who drank all the beer in the fridge?” That last one is only funny if you are aware that I generally write by myself. [1]

On the flip side, there are some things I thought I would never see that actually happened. Unless you have been living under a rock, and I understand it is becoming a more popular lifestyle choice since the election, Donald Trump is President of the United States. If Mr Trump had not won, John Key suddenly resigning and Bill English becoming Prime Minister of New Zealand would have been at the top of my “jaw-dropping political happenings list.” Everyone should have a List.

In sporting terms, I never thought I would live long enough to see the Hurricanes (finally) win the Super Rugby championship after breaking my heart so many times. Frankly, I just never expected to see Canada winning a Sevens Event. Good on you, moose kissers! [2]

I also never thought I would join Twitter either. For example, way back in Blog 34 I wrote “one thing we can hopefully all agree on is that Twittering is for people who are so attention seeking that blogging is too slow and too long (See: Kutcher, Ashton.)” Then in Blog 47 it vowed “I will never truly trust any invention where the person in the world who is the best at it is Ashton Kutcher. “ Previous utterances can really come back and bite me and my 3,724 Twitter followers in the bottom. [3]

This week, there has been another miracle – there are actually hops in the Hopinator! I really did not see that one coming. For the past several years (or so it seems) Malthouse has taken great joy in placing virtually every comestible apart from hops in the Hopinator. I believe it was done mainly to enrage me. Now, for a limited time, there is Tuatara Double Trouble in the Modus Hopperandus with a trial hop strain.

The trial hop does not get a name until it passes all the tests. So don’t be upset if you are followed about for a few days by smart people in white coats who are writing on clipboards. They are just scientists from the Hop Research Station checking to see any side effects. Relax – the only one recorded so far is the desire to have another pint.

However, simply to allay the concerns of readers, I vow to do some empirical research in the very near future. Obviously this is code for “I am going to drink some and find out.”

Tuatara Double Trouble (9%) is a self-proclaimed “extra dimensional IPA” which is probably a reference to the 3-D bottle labels rather than a claim to move through the space time continuum. I prefer to describe it as a “hop showcase” with notes of tropical fruit, malt biscuits, pine needles and grapefruit. My only complaint is that it is should not be so darn drinkable. [4]

It is joined on tap by Epic Stone Hammer (7%), a hop-forward IPA which may signal a change in direction from Epic Brewing Company which has been long famed for their low-carbohydrate fruit beers. [5] Kidding aside, this punchy pale ale is stuffed with the wonderful combination of Citra, Mosaic and Simcoe hops. In the glass there are notes of peach, mango, passionfruit, pine and caramel. It is also dankly resinous.

I coined the phrase “Only the Stone Hammer can stop Hop Zombies.” I plan to test my theory tonight by blending the two.

At a time that Epic is naming their latest beer series (Stone Hammer) after brutally strong Norse gods swinging large weapons, ParrotDog are naming their series (Flora) after pretty New Zealand plants. I think that says a lot – I am just not quite sure what.

ParrotDog Flora IPA Series Forget-Me-Not West Coast IPA (6.9%) is named after the Chatham Island Forget-Me-Not, a perennial herb. It really is so very balanced with a floral and fruity aroma, sweet caramel background, firm tropical fruit flavours, then a cleansing bitterness. Might I also add the 2015 West Coast IPA challenge winner… Just Saying

Liberty Citra (9%) is a mainstay of my annual Top Ten New Zealand Beers List. That is largely because it is a 9%, 100 IBU behemoth with plenty of hop action (grapefruit, citrus, resin, passionfruit, pine) and enough bitterness for even the most hardened hophead (me). Despite the strength and intensity, Citra is smooth and balanced.

Malthouse is also pouring Liberty Oh Brother (5.1%) which is explicitly a quaffing beer. Flavoursome but not too intense, it has a lovely caramel backbone supporting some big passionfruit, mango and fresh pine needle flavours and aromas. It is 40 IBU but could easily pass for more. Quenching and delicious – Oh Brother is an ideal starter for those who claim not to like pale ale

A new one to me is Bach Breakabay (5.2%) which is inspired by the old American Cream Ale style. However, as often happens, there is a Kiwi twist with the addition of more highly aromatic hops and a touch of Pohutukawa honey. The key is to look for the contrast between the bitter hops and the sweet honey – or so I am told.

There is also one cider which I am honestly very tempted to try at least. Not usually a cider fan, I have found several hopped ciders to be quite tasty. Therefore, I like the sound of Peckham’s Fresh Hop Cider even more. One of the best cideries in New Zealand using the freshest hops sounds like a fine plan to me.

Next time, we drink to Cassini, the plucky little space probe who is about to crash into Saturn. I guess that is one way to announce your resignation from NASA. However, someone whose knowledge of space is not limited to Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica assures me it “sent back a ton of useful data” on the way.

[1] Even then it may not be funny. The best thing about humour is when you get it wrong, at least you don’t have anyone laughing at you.

[2] We are all very happy for Canada but please stop beating us.

[3] At that time, and to put it in context remember this is Blog 404, Ashton Kutcher was the most popular person on Twitter.

[4] I only really put that bit in just in case Doug Sellman was reading this post looking for something to complain about. I’m not really sorry.

[5] This is a reference to an April Fool’s column in 2010 where I announced that Luke had launched Epic Pixie, a low-carbohydrate strawberry beer. Apparently a few people went into bars and tried to order it!


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine


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