I have my own secrets – I am colour blind and fashion impaired (a poor combination obviously). I spend a disproportionate amount of my disposable income on Star Wars action figures, [1] I may have been infatuated by talented songbird Samantha Fox for several decades. I cry at the end of Adam Sandler’s “Wedding Singer” every single time.

Malthouse also has a secret – “Malty’s Wee Secret”. No, it is not what colour the flash new paint scheme is, [2] or where the hidden corridor in “The Cupboard of Doom” exits, or even the pin number on the music machine designed solely to keep Luke Nicholas from Epic from putting Def Leppard’s “Armageddon It” on endless repeat (again).

Instead, Ciaran – the Cruising, Bruising, Never Losing Malthouse Unit Manager – [3] has unlocked about 15 kegs of his “library stock”. These are rare and aged beers which will go on tap from 4pm on Wednesday 8 August 2018. This is truly Malty’s Wee Secret.

Here’s the list:

8 Wired Once Upon A Time In Blenheim 2016 – This is an aged lambic style brewed with Sauvignon Blanc. It also has a fantastic name even if no one can quite figure out what it means.

8 Wired Wild Feijoa 2015 – A very big beer which was aged in oak barrels. It is tart and yeasty, with notes of feijoa, lemon and socks. It changes with age so this is a rare chance to try a parallel tasting of three vintages.

8 Wired Wild Feijoa 2016 – Like the one above but with more fruit character.

8 Wired Wild Feijoa 2017 – Like the two above but with more fruit and fizz. Honestly, the opportunity to try three vintages of this brew does not come round often.

Baylands Glasgow Slasher 2017 – Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Malthouse Proprietor helped brew this seemingly limited edition beer to celebrate 21 years of the Malthouse. However, this massive American Barleywine proved so popular it just keeps coming back despite the rather terrifying cartoon of Col on the tap badge.

The actual brewer notes it features 21 malts and a ridiculous volume of US hops. Drinkers have described the beer as being smooth and surprisingly “normal” given the strength, there is a complex and layered malt superstructure to enjoy, and the fruity hops are noticeable plus prevent the beer from becoming cloying.

Craftwork Anniversaire 2017 – A Golden Saison brewed with Waitaki Honey and Medlar fruit, and then barrel aged in a local pinot noir barrel for souring. The brewers boast that the barrel has many funky yeasts, including Fantome dregs.” [4]

Craftwork La Framboise 2017 – Spontaneously fermented beer infused with raspberries then barrel aged. What is not to like? [5]

Garage Project Barrel Aged Plum Plum Plum 2016 – This Garage Project beer is made with a large amount of plums, is sour, and has been barrel aged for several years. It turns out it was indeed made with “Jack’s mums plums” for Sourfest 2017 and is now making a rare reappearance.

Hallertau Funkonnay 2016 – The brewer notes this is “the sour side of life. This beer spends a year in Chardonnay barrels partying with the nicest bugs we know. Lean and fruity, peachy and very dry. Delicate, racy and moreish. You’ll know where we are coming from.” [6]

Hallertau Nocturne Double Stout 2016 – A strong deeply roasted stout. There are notes of chocolate, coffee and nuts.

Moa Kiwifruit Sour 2015 – This launched at the Malthouse. Moa have long loved to play with the iconic Kiwi Fruit and now has it in a sour beer. After three years in the barrels I expect to see some very surprised faces on people trying this for the first time.

Moa Sour Grapes 2016 – This is an unusual Belgian-style fruit lambic. Moa note that the “wheat beer base was fermented and conditioned with our house sour microflora. Generous amounts of whole bunch Sauvignon Blanc were hand harvested from the Head Brewers vineyard, and then left in contact with the wort during the main ferment and again in barrel for conditioning. Typical sour characteristics are evident in addition to the herbaceous vine like characters from the grapes.”

I think this might convert some dedicated wine drinkers…

Moa St Joseph’s 2017 –This lovely brew draws its inspiration from the classic Belgian Tripel style.  Appropriately strong at 9.5%, it has the expected fruit, spice and funky yeast characteristic. This is my favourite Moa beer.

Panhead/Gigantic Dutch Rudder – This is a collaboration brew made by Panhead Brewery (Upper Hutt) and Gigantic Brewery (Oregon, USA). Wellington and Oregon have forged a strong brewing relationship over recent years with a number of collaborative beers and brewer exchanges. The Dutch Rudder uses Marionberry, the most popular variety of blackberry in the state of Oregon. The berries bring in tart, earthy and sweet notes.

Renaissance Barrel Aged Stonecutter 2015 – stonecutter is one of my favourite dark ales. The standard version is so complex and intricate, but barrel-aging of this magnitude adds further levels of flavour and intrigue. I am picking up coffee, political intrigue, chocolate, whisky, vanilla, oak, leather, and the salty tears of the player trying to tackle Portia Woodman.

The title of this blog is a quotation from a literary critic prominent in the late 19th Century – John Churton Collins. Although not overly familiar with his work, I must admire that he so riled Lord Alfred Tennyson, then Poet Laureate, that Al described John as “a louse in the locks of literature.” I’ve been called pretty much exactly the same on Twitter, though not by anyone who wrote anything as good as “The Charge of the Light Brigade”.

Next time we drink to Massey “University” – an avowed critic and conscience of society – which has decided to ban Don Brash from speaking on campus after a student made a vague threat. Actually, I drink to the head of the Student Association who said that he does not agree with Dr Brash but supported his right to speak. That is the real definition of free speech.

[1] Totally not dolls or toys for the record.

[2] The consensus appears to be “Trumpian Zeitgeist” – but see the comment about being colour blind above.

[3] Those are descriptions from the Beastie Boys track “Hold it Now” which includes a reference to “drinking pints of ale out the window sill.”

[4] A funky Belgian yeast, even by Belgian standards.

[5] Pretty much everything based on my beer tastes but that is hardly the point.

[6] Straight out of Kumeu…


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine


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