It has been a comparatively quiet period in the campaign since the previous Malthouse blog, but only in the sense that no political party lost a leader or deputy leader in the last seven days. We have witnessed the departure a lot of senior politicians in the last month or two. [1] It all looks distinctly untidy. Several may actually be missed.

The public polls have swung wildly from Labour being 4% in front to National being 10% ahead. Of course, that all means very little under New Zealand’s Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP) electoral system which virtually assures one of the big two parties (National or Labour) will need at least one to three minor party coalition partners. At least, that is the way it has worked every time since MMP was introduced in 1996.

With the rise of Labour under new leader Jacinda Ardern it seemed the Green Party – their Best Friends Forever (except when it comes to actually forming a Government) – was in the box seat to co-rule. Instead, their poll results crashed and for the first time in decades the Greens actually polled under the crucial 5% threshold. Those numbers have firmed back up and the Greens are likely to be in the next Parliament – but not nearly as many of them as they planned.

New Zealand First always fancies itself as the kingmaker or queenmaker, mainly because it keeps performing that role. Never lacking in personal self confidence, perennial and priapic leader Winston Peters will have been privately shaken by several relatively low poll results. [2] He will never admit anything of the sort of course, and any suggestion to the contrary is a scurrilous, vile, malicious and perfidious lie.

I think that last sentence has been written on his business card since he exposed the Interisland Ferry Running Aground scandal in the 1980s. Well, to this day there is no evidence of it actually ever happening but that can only be because the entire complex saga has been so well covered up. [3]

Political parties have taken to just making figures up – even more so than normal. The Green Party have “indications” of an “internal poll” which places them winning the Nelson seat from long time Cabinet Minister Nick Smith. This would be newsworthy if they had not just made the whole scenario up based on shockingly unscientific robot push polling. Ironically, they might have stood a chance against an increasingly unpopular sitting member, but their cyber bullying/polling strategy has virtually ensured National’s Dr Smith will be back.

The Opportunity Party (derided by many as The Opportunist Party) did not even try as hard as the Greens. Millionaire leader Gareth Morgan simply asserted that all the polls were wrong because his supporters were too busy to have landlines in order to answer questions. Therefore, while every reputable poll consistently showed his party at between 1% and 2% support, he was adamant the correct figure was between 7% and 14%, or possibly 47%. That is somewhat outside the usual margin of error.

By now it should be evident that this humble blog has taken on a political commentary role in recent weeks. This tactic should result in a few more readers and potentially many more lawsuits. [4] That produces somewhat of an ethical dilemma for a writer. I am not journalist, thankfully for all involved, but do I have a moral obligation to be fair and unbiased in these posts?

The question looms because Colin, the Handsome Yet Softly Spoken Malthouse Proprietor, has tasked me with writing about Rocky Knob Brewing Company this week. I was immediately alerted to a potential conflict of interest because I was wearing a Rocky Knob t-shirt, rocking a Rocky Knob beanie, looking at the Rocky Knob stickers on my diary and accounts book, hanging out with my tiny rubber duck who is named “Rocky” largely after Rocky Knob, and – now – desperately wanting a Rocky Knob Snapperhead IIPA which is consistently one of my top beers of the year. [5]

It should be pretty clear that I cannot talk about impartially about Rocky Knob any more than John Campbell could be balanced and fair about all the parts of capitalism that are not his rather large salary. I adore this brewery and the people who made it – Stu Marshall (the brewer and all-round good guy) and wife Bronwyn Marshall (who does all the rest of the work and is known alternatively as the “Knobette” and/or “Rocky’s Mum” though the latter claim cannot and probably should not be biologically verified). [6]

Their contract brewing business was founded back in June/July 2013 which seems like aeons ago in beer terms. I discovered them and Snapperhead at Beervana 2014 and have basically been pouring my wallet into their hard working hands ever since. I regret nothing. Malthouse is hosting a Rocky Karma Keg and Tap Takeover on Friday 22 September 2017.

This will see five core Rocky Knob beers on tap (sadly missing my beloved Snapperhead), plus their West Coast IPA Challenge beer on tap as the “Karma Keg” where all the proceeds go to charity. Seriously, the New Zealand beer community makes me tear up at times. I’ve voted for the SPCA or Greyhounds as Pets as the designated charity.

There is a Facebook page with details (link below) but because today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day I have naturally switched my language to English (Pirate). As a result, the Rocky Knob Karma Keg event is officially listed on my timeline as a “Looming Grog Fest”. I can totally live with that. It is also long past time to actually talk about grog as opposed to petty politics and plastic poultry. Here is the lineup:

Rocky Knob Home Again NZ Pale Ale (5.5%) is named after brewer Stu’s favourite Kiwi Band – Shihad. This would come as zero surprise to anyone who has met him. *cough* bit of a bogan *cough*. Packed with Cascade, Riwaka and Sauvin hops, there are notes of stone fruit, grape and bready malt.

Rocky Knob Undies Session Pale Ale (2.5%) gained its name because brewer Stu still finds it hilarious, at least according to an unnamed source who is married to him. It is lower in alcohol but still full of flavour. Obviously I have not tried it myself because Snapperhead still exists.

Rocky Knob Oceanside (5.6%) is an American amber ale full of US Mosaic and NZ Motueka hops because Stu likes to mix it up. It is a “hop forward” ale with plenty of hop goodness swinging off a caramel skeleton and it is (relatively) sessionable. This beer almost changed my tiny dark heart about amber ales. Almost.

Rocky Knob Code Brown (6%) is another beer named by Stu and I am starting to sense a slight theme here. Served on the nitro tap, this is a rich beer with notes of toffee, caramel and tropical fruit. Word for the wise – do not Google Image Search the name of this beer.

Rocky Knob One Way Street West Coast IPA is the Karma Keg and weighs in at over 7.5%. It scored highly in the 10th Annual Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge and given that contest is judged blind by a panel of experts (plus me and Jono Galuszka) that is high praise indeed. Even I thought this brew had enough hops and I don’t utter that sentence very often.

Next time, we drink to me being on Radio New Zealand at 7am the day after the election… in a pub. What could possibly go wrong?

[1] There are rumours that Venezuela is secretly snickering at our political instability.

[2].”Sorry” is not the hardest word to say for Mr Peters. There is no evidence he has ever attempted to do so.

[3] This is a country that has detailed spoilers about home renovation reality TV shows on a daily basis. How has nobody talked or even Tweeted about this epic ferry conspiracy over the course of four decades?

[4] Hey Colin Craig! How you doing?

[5] Breaking the Fourth Wall I know, but between writing this paragraph and writing the next paragraph, I went to Thorndon New World and purchased a Rocky Knob Snapperhead IIPA. However, I swear that I only went to pick up some toilet paper, some quinoa and a nice avocado [7].

[6] Even the Green Party electronic Poll-o-Matic 2017 machine declined that task.

[7] No longer $5.99 each. Praise the Aguacate Gods!


Neil Miller

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