North Korean Aggression – “Bring me another Pilsner and I’ll tell you how to contain a million-man standing army with only a Greenpeace protest vessel and Lucy Lawless.”

Perpetual Motion Solved – “A cat always lands on its feet, right? And toast always falls to the floor butter side down. So, simply strap buttered toast to the back of a cat and throw it in the air. There is your perpetual motion machine sorted. Mine’s a Tennant’s Lager.”

Super Rugby playoff format – “The TV executives pick who plays and who wins. It is like professional wrestling. I hear WWE’s Vince McMahon owns all the Kiwi franchises. After all, there were wrestlers called The Hurricane, the Blue Meanie, High Chief Peter Maivia, the Loch Ness Monster, [1] and Sir William Regal. That cannot be a coincidence. Another sour fruit conspiracy beer please.”

Donald Trump’s hair – “This may be the APA talking but have you ever thought how bad his head must look that wearing an annoyed ginger cat on his scalp is the best option available for the most powerful man in the world?”

Quade Cooper getting unceremoniously dumped from the Wallabies – “Kiwi Pale Ales all round. No explanation needed.”

Tsunami warning lines on the pavement – “I heard the massive wave stops exactly at the blue line painted on the road because of global warming. It is true – you can look it up on Wikileaks while you buy me another cider.”

Gareth Morgan getting into Parliament – “Sorry, there is literally no beer strong enough to explain that outcome…”

Ten years ago, the Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge was created precisely by a loud opinionated discussion over a humble Malty bar leaner. Unlike the idle or ignorant talk illustrated above, the conversation created the biggest event on the Malthouse calendar and 2017 may well be the largest yet.

I’ve told this story many times before but will tell it again because it has the advantage of being true. [2] Following our return from the World Beer Cup in San Diego, I was enjoying drinks with Luke “the Imp” Nicholas from Epic, Steve “the Naked Epicurean Brewer” Plowman from Hallertau and Colin “the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Proprietor” from Malthouse. [3]

Brewers have strong opinions and Steve and Luke were each of the strong opinion that they could make the best US West Coast inspired Pale Ale in the country. Colin decided to put them to the test with the inaugural WCIPA challenge featuring two beers and a public vote. The first result is lost in history because no one remembered to write it down. Actually, there is some doubt that a vote even happened.

The event continued to grow. By year five there were 17 entrants competing in front of real judges for the fabled yet incredibly cheap Golden Gumboot trophy. This year, on Friday 28 July 2017, the 10th Annual Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge will see a record 28 challengers (including the first international entry) lining up for the ultimate prize. Because of the dramatic growth of the event, it will be co-hosted by Fork & Brewer and Malthouse. Each bar will have 24 Challenge beers, including four exclusive beers at each venue.

It is going to be more fun than the America’s Cup. [4] Once again I have the pleasure of judging the Challenge, meaning I get a head start on the hops.

Here is the final beer list. The alcohol percentages are not being released until the day of the Challenge so I have developed a new ABV Challenge scale: [5]

Mellow           (under 6.5%)

Hello               (between 6.5% and 7.5%)

Yello!              (over 7.5%)

Here are the beers in the order they were sent to me:

Fork Brewing               Juice Newton                        Hello

Epic Beer                    Hysteria                                 Hello

Liberty                        The Kush                              Hello

Moa                            Cutaway Charlie                 Hello

Panhead                   Snake Oil                              Hello

Emerson’s                Fistful of dollars                    Yello!

Tuatara                      Hi-Res                                   Hello

Garage Project         Unconditional Love             Hello

ParrotDog                 Double IPA                           Yello!

Fortune Favours      The Supernaturalist             Hello

8 Wired                      Lupulust IPA                         Mellow

Hallertau                   I Like Your Subwoofer        Hello

Hop Federation       West Coast IPA                   Hello

Mac’s                       Wild Cat IPA                         Mellow

Rocky Knob             One Way Street                   Yello!

Sprig & Fern             Mother of Hops                    Mellow

Bone Face                In Bloom                        Hello

Croucher                   Freewheeler IPA                  Hello

Choice Bros              I’m Afraid of Americans      Hello

BlackDog                  Rock & Rolla                         Hello

Good George           Bonniedoon IIPA                  Yello!

Baylands                   Bent Crank IPA                    Hello

Kereru                       Hop Wave IIPA                    Yello!

North End                 Devil’s Elbow                        Yello!

Behemoth                 C’s get degrees                    Hello

Eagle                         Dawn of the Dust                Mellow

Pirate Life                 Malthouse Challenge          Hello

Urbanaut              el Segundo IPA                    Hello

The Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge is the highlight of my beer year, ahead even of my beloved Beervana and Saint Andrews Day. It is going to be huuuuge and many of these unique brews will not last long. Particularly endangered is the now traditional “totally out of balance but I love it so much” hop bomb that misses out on a medal but wins my heart and wallet.

Next time, we drink to Game of Thrones. Finally, we all have something to talk about, even if it is the surprising number of people who claim never to have watched an episode. I am Team Tyrion myself but predicting Arya will ultimately end up with the Iron Throne.

[1] Ironically the wrestler (“Giant Haystacks”) was English. This is a rare example of a wrestling company being dishonest about the nationality of their pugilists.

[2] May not apply to all my stories – check terms and conditions.

[3] Only Steve has not embraced his nickname. Colin pretends not to but secretly adores being described as “handsome”. Just not by me for some reason…

[4] This is admittedly setting the bar particularly low, unless you are millionaire who enjoys getting millions of dollars more from the Government for pursuing your hobby in the tropics.

[5] Only after finishing the list have I realised that the ABV scale was inspired by a rather awful rap by Jayden Smith on the Graham Norton Show. Wait, “rather awful rap by Jayden Smith” is a case study of redundancy.


Neil Miller

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