This year I limited myself to just a six course bacon and beer degustation at the Fork & Brewer, the release of the ANZ Craft Beer Report, the official Beervana launch party, and the opening sessions of both days of Beervana. I see from my paper based diary that I had somewhat ambitiously planned to attend the beer and gin event at Malthouse later on the Saturday. In hindsight, it was probably best for all parties that I decided discretion was the better part of valour and went home and watched Sharpe. [1

Many others paced themselves far better and Malthouse had queues outside the door for much of last week. Let us be honest here – nobody really queues outside in Wellington for a drink anymore. There are always so many other often fine hospitality venues within easy strolling distance that a constant line of hopeful Malty customers on the street is worthy of note. It is a reflection of the bar’s reputation and the quality of the beer list on offer.

Conventional wisdom suggests that December is always the biggest month for a hospitality business what with end of work functions and people being on holiday and thirsty. For the Malthouse, August is actually the busiest time in no small part because of the Road to Beervana, Beervana, the Wellington on a Plate food festival and Burger Wellington.

There are – and I had to check this because it seemed outrageous – 123 venues offering a burger in the 2017 Burger Wellington competition. Malthouse is the perfect venue for a pre-burger drink and/or a post-burger libation. The top of my personal burger hit list is the lamb and haggis burger at Fork & Brewer, and the alpaca burger at Bin 44. [2] The latter even includes Brussel sprout slaw which means I may eat said devil sprouts twice in a month after successfully avoiding them for several decades. The former has a small Scottish flag which you can take home. It also has haggis.

Back to Beervana, in a world first, I not only downloaded the new Beervana App but actually managed to use it. This means it must be completely idiot proof. [3] Over 5,500 punters voted for their favourite beers with 30,000 ratings submitted (up from 4,000 last year). The results are out. The most popular beer – by 0.03 out of 5 – was Liberty Prohibition. It was followed by Behemoth The Duke Abides, the classic for a reason Liberty Citra, my beloved Hoppy McHopFace Double IPA and Garage Project Tempest Prognosticator – but we all saw that one coming… [4]

On the Malthouse tap list this week:

Epic Hysteria (6.9%) – This is another outstanding IPA from the Impish Brewer Luke Nicholas. Hysteria is a tweak on the classic Armageddon recipe adding new US hops and introducing some New Zealand hops to the mix. It came second in the Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge but scooped the People’s Choice prize. [5] Like Armageddon, it is also named after a Def Leppard song.

Fork Juice Newton (6.6%) – The Juice (as it is known to its fans unfamiliar with OJ Simpson) was also a popular entrant in the West Coast IPA Challenge. As the name suggests, it is juicy and pleasantly bitter. The beer is named after a famous singer of the 1980s. I originally thought I had never heard of her but it turns out she performed one of my karaoke go-to songs – “Angel of the Morning”. My sincere apologies go out to Ms Newton for this egregious oversight.

Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta (6.5%) – An Earl Grey Blue Flower tea infused pale ale made, I believe, (in large part) to enrage me. I am not convinced by tea in beer generally but I may be wrong. Gunnamatta has a cult-like following.

Batch Brewing Currant State of Infusion (6.1%) – From Sydney, a sour ale flavoured with blackcurrants and cold-steeped coffee from the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia. Sounds better than tea beer to me…

Little Creatures Festoon IPA (7%) – From Freemantle, their festival White IPA. This contains native Aussie lemon myrtle and features a Belgian witbier twist.

The title of this week’s blog was plagiarised from professional wrestling crowds chanting their appreciation for a particularly spectacular piece of sports entertainment action. Oh my!

Next time, we drink to Sir John Key who prophetically said in 2014 “”well if you thought that election was weird, wait until the next.”

[1] An underrated but fantastic series of television movies noteworthy for Sean Bean being on screen for about 80 hours and not dying.

[2] Note to self – find out what an alpaca actually is as I don’t currently know if it is more like a llama or an emu. I am however confident I want to eat it. Now.

[3] The Beervana App was made by PaperKite, an incredibly sexy Wellington technology company founded by my friend Nic Gibbons, who is himself a noted craft beer drinker.

[4] This is actually a quite clever piece of word play.

[5] Basically saying the judges were wrong…


Neil Miller

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