Historically I have had a “somewhat combative” relationship with the Hutt Valley, partly because I grew in Tawa and partly because it was the Hutt Valley. In recent years, I have been repeatedly and publicly singing the praises of Upper Hutt (in particular), much to the surprise of everyone (including myself).

The fundamental reason is craft beer. Upper Hutt now has four quality craft breweries, a growing number of outlets selling fine beers, and a fantastic beer festival called Greater Wellington Brewday. Brewday was the reason I got on that particular train and it was totally worth it. Again.

From the train station it was a short walk to the festival grounds in Trentham Racecourse. [2] The entry process was so speedy and polite it almost felt like a trap. Once inside, the beer and food tents circled the main seating areas which were thankfully largely covered given the bursts of rain early on.

We initially took shelter in a nearby gazebo and, to our surprise, discovered the structure was not officially part of the festival. The guys inside – who were very cool it must be said – had bought it in and Brewday actually encouraged this practice. This was most admirable. I must say the group who sat drinking in their little alpine tent looked extremely pleased with themselves when the rain pounded down and they were warm and dry.

All four Upper Hutt breweries were in attendance – Kereru, Panhead, Te Aro and Boneface, the subject of this blog. This is because Bonehead is about to celebrate their first birthday (it seems like longer!) and Malthouse will be hosting a birthday party starting midday on Saturday 24 March 2018.

It has been dubbed the “Boneface Kitchen and Tap Take Over” because Boneface will be taking over the kitchen and many of the beer taps. You must admit there is a certain haphazard logic to the name… The menu has been developed by Bonehead and sounds delicious. They will be running the kitchen at Malty on the day and here is the menu:

Confit Duck Poutine – Duck fat fries, cheese curds and duck fat gravy. The township of Upper Hutt sends it’s thanks to the great nation of Canada for the gift of this culinary invention. A number of cardiologists are also thankful in anticipation of future work.

Southern Fried Buffalo Chicken Chips – These fries are made from chicken thighs. Why have I not been informed of this before? They are served with red onion jam, sliced McClure’s pickles (USA) and blue cheese aioli.

Smoked Hoptron Hot Dog – A beer infused sausage served with habanero mustard, Hoptron beer relish, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut. [3]

Smoked Beef Cheek Burger – This is an increasingly popular cut of meat for burgers. It is rich and juicy and presented here with jalapeno pickle slaw, Swiss cheese, deep fried pickles and sriracha mayonnaise (which is hot sauce and mayo).

Beer Donuts – This is a collaboration dessert between Boneface and High Confectious, a Wellington small batch bakery. The flavours will be The Darkness Stout and Chocolate, and The Juice Gose and curd. I have no sweet tooth but must confess to being intrigued by these two very different combinations.

The beers will be the five core range beers:

Boneface Hoptron APA (5.5%) – When I first wrote about Boneface beers on this blog, pretty much a year ago, I correctly predicted that this would be my favourite of the range even before tasting it. I was right. I do love the smell of vindication in the pint glass. There is juicy citrus before a quenching bitterness.

Boneface Outlaw IPL (5.2%) – An India Pale Lager which is a modern twist on the traditional India Pale Ale. Debate continues to rage about whether it is a real style or not but I am giving it the benefit of the doubt as it is packed with hops producing juicy tropical fruits notes.

Boneface India Stout (5.8%) – This is a hoppy stout, an increasingly popular style particularly as the weather begins to turn a bit rainy. There are the traditional notes of coffee and chocolate, but also an explosion of citrus. This is because the brewers, in their own words, “hopped the crap out it!” [4]

Boneface The Juice Dry Hopped Gose (4.5%) – It is sour and salty, but also dry hopped to bring a Boneface twist to this strangely popular beer style.

Boneface The Unit IPA (6%) – This is a New Zealand IPA with lashings of grapefruit, citrus and stone fruit. I do enjoy this beer.

There are also four seasonal releases on tap:

Boneface Ace of Spades (7%) – An imperial milk stout with coffee.

Boneface Sabotage – A beer so fresh it is currently still being made and will be fresh from the conditioning tank the week of the takeover.

Boneface War Machine Rye Pale Ale (5.8%) – This is the last keg of this red rye pale ale which was launched at the 2018 Greater Wellington Brewday in, appropriately enough, Upper Hutt.

Boneface Wheels of Confusion Sour Pale Ale – The Boneface Kitchen and Tap Takeover at Malthouse will be the launch of this brew. It is sour, but interestingly also features a heavy dry hopping. To the surprise of no one familiar with Hutt culture, it is named after a Black Sabbath song.

From 4pm on Saturday 24 March 2018 Malty will be running a “Boneface Merch and Brewery voucher give away”. Basically, buy a beer and get a bottle cap. 1 in 10 of said caps have a chance of winning cool prizes. [5]

Next time we drink to Michael Donaldson, New Zealand Writer of the Year. His newspaper column recently featured a correction which apologised for previously referring to “Boneface” as “Bonehead”. I privately blamed the sub-editor “correcting” the name but still found it highly amusing… right up the moment tonight when I discovered I did exactly the same thing twice in the 20 March 2017 Malthouse blog titled “Why the Boneface?” (link below). I sometimes wonder what the moral high ground looks like…

[1] Dear Tranz Metro – “Go the train” is still not catching on as a corporate motto. Even Hamilton (“City of the Future”) is sniggering at you…

[2] If I say it is a short walk, it is a very short walk.

[3] The Swiss cheese is neutral about the flavour of the German pickled cabbage.

[4] This is a totally legitimate brewing term. At least on this blog…

[5] Any one bringing in Tui bottle caps and trying to claim Boneface prizes will regret their life choices.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine

DrinksBiz Magazine


Malthouse blog – “Why the Boneface” – http://themalthouse.co.nz/blog/546-hey-why-the-boneface-boneface-brewery-launch (What a pair of Bonehead moments…)

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