As of Tuesday, the New Zealand Labour Party has a new leader. This is not in itself newsworthy – they have had a lot of new leaders and deputy leaders since the departure of Helen Clark. However, it is certainly newsworthy to change leaders around eight weeks out from a general election.

But while it may be newsworthy it is not unprecedented in Kiwi politics. Labour’s Mike Moore rolled sitting Labour Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer in 1990 shortly before the election. He then lost badly but – supporters argue – not as badly as Palmer would have lost. This move has become known as the “Mike Moore Effect” in local politics.

For those unfamiliar with New Zealand politics, [1] Mike Moore is famous for his extremely short reign as Prime Minister, rumpled suits, promoting lamb burgers way before their time, and, to a lesser degree, heading up the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Geoffrey Palmer is famous for running the New Zealand government when David Lange went off the grid during the nuclear ships crisis, authoring several constitutionally significant pieces of legislation (for better or worse), drafting many of the worst alcohol laws here, and his warm personal touch.

I can’t do it. That last statement cannot be justified even under the guise of satire. In a 1989 attempt to humanise the praetorian Palmer his handlers had him play the trumpet (poorly) and prance on the Beehive balcony (badly) with some visiting British musicians of dubious fame. It was unsuccessful, though the trumpet did briefly overtake Palmer in the “Most Preferred Prime Minister Poll.”

It was the polls that bought the abrupt to Andrew Little’s leadership of Labour this week. Three polls in a row had them under 25% which is an intensely uncomfortable position for one of the main two political parties. [2] Mr Little remained committed to being leader and his caucus was behind him… right up to the moment he resigned.

Events unfolded incredibly fast over four hours with Labour MPs professing confidence in Little’s leadership even while he was on the plane heading to Wellington to resign. Journalists were more confused than usual. Despite rumours of a contest, deputy leader Jacinda Ardern stepped up and Kelvin Davis became the new deputy. Congratulations to them both.

The change sparked a frenzy of activity from volunteers and donors, but mainly benefited polling companies and the lucky printing company which has to redo all of Labour’s billboards and pamphlets in two days. One of the first pieces of correspondence that Ms Ardern will have to address as new leader is the traditional Malthouse Blog Election Year Beer Survey of Party Leaders. [3] Her response could be the circuit breaker the party has been looking for these last nine years…

It would be smart for political parties to be seen at Beervana, the country’s premiere beer festival. They would be unwise to campaign, but a little visibility and a few toasts could do wonders. Beervana occurs on 11 and 12 August 2017 at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington. [4] You should already have tickets… However, there is a lot more beer to flow under the bridge before the big event. This is the heavenly week of events known as the Road to Beervana.

Famed for their tolerance, modesty and restraint, the Malthouse crew is only hosting three Road to Beervana events this year featuring beer, cheese, beer, bogans and gin (and beer). .

Tuesday 8 August 2017 – Brooklyn Brewery beer and cheese tasting night.

Four rare beers from Brooklyn Brewery (including two limited releases) and paired with five different cheeses from Le Marche Wellington. Le Marche seriously knows their cheese – I sold beer next to them at the City Market for a year. It was the book “At the Brewmaster’s Table” by Brooklyn brewer Garrett Oliver that first opened my eyes to the joys of beer and cheese matching and I’ve been frolicking in those fields ever since. The menu looks great.

Wednesday 9 August 2017 – Four Horsemen of the Hopocalypse tap take over.

Each year, brewers from Liberty (Bogan Joe), Fork (#brewjesus), Epic (The Imp) and Hallertau (The Utterly Naked Brewer) get together and brew the Four Horsemen of the Hopocalypse ale. The brewers will be on hand, the latest version will be pouring, and there will be vintages of this legendary beer from 2013, 2014 and 2015 on tap.

For the record, I have no idea how letting Joseph, Kelly, Luke and Mr Plowman loose together in a working brewery with a shed load of hops is possibly legal under the austere new health and safety legislation. I am not complaining – just noting.

Saturday 12 August 2017 – Epic Brewery’s gin is the new IPA party!

The only thing better than (the rather excellent) Epic’s Hidden World gin, various gin and tonics, a blended gin IPA [5] and gin cocktails is all of those things… on tap at the same time. That is what will happen here.

I have been assured by the interwebs that there “ain’t no party like an Epic gin party.”

If all of that is not enough, Ciaran the prophetic, popular and photosynthetic Malthouse Unit Manager has notified this blog that there will also be (and I quote directly) many “sexy beers from GABS Australia” and a number of “fine UK offerings” too.

As noted Malthouse regular Lucius Annaeus Seneca observed in 37AD “it is a rough road that leads heights of greatness.”

Next time, we drink to International Beer Day which by an amazing coincidence happens to be tomorrow. Many great things happen on this day – including the anniversary of me asking a lovely woman out.

[1] This group includes the vast majority of international readers and half the domestic audience.

[2] Trust me – I worked for National in the 22% days. It is not fun.

[3] The results of this unscientific but revealing survey basically determine where my vote goes. On a more serious note, it is gratifying to see how many politicians reply to this survey with considered answers. New Zealand is wonderful sometimes – and beer is a growing industry after all.

[4] It is NOT “The Cake Tin.”

[5] I believe the working name for this gin IPA is “Shut up and take all of Neil’s money”. I’m sure I will get the usual royalties…


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine

DrinksBiz Magazine


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