I have noted that McLeod’s is a brewery founded on “sand, surf and Scottish heritage”. These are words which are rarely uttered in the same sentence. Since 2014 this growing and prolific brewery has been producing a range of award-winning beers. One of their best decisions was to hire the highly regarded Jason Bathgate as head brewer over two years ago.

They won the coveted Beer of the Year award from the members of the Society of Beer Advocates (SOBA), a discerning horde of brewing enthusiasts. In a huge upset, McLeod’s Paradise Pale Ale beat perennial champion Panhead Supercharger. That is no simple task. They also picked up a pile of bling at this year’s Brewer’s Guild New Zealand beer awards. [1] I have a strong link with the McLeod name as it is my mother’s maiden name and my brother’s middle (clan) name. Me, I am a Campbell, a clan with the worst reputation in Scottish history based solely on centuries of treachery, treason and double-crossing.

The McLeod name has also been tarnished through no fault of their own. I am referring to the character Connor McLeod in the multiple Highlander movies and later animated series. Now, the first Highlander is a more than decent action film, greatly helped by the soaring Queen soundtrack over well choreographed sword fight scenes. They should have stopped right there. The other sequels fall away rather dramatically and tragically in quality and star power, to the extent that I think they were not even trying near the end. [2] The seeds of destruction were however sown in the first and best movie. The producers had hired Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery, two major stars. Somehow, they made the decision that Lambert (who is French) should play the Scotsman, and Connery (who is Scottish) should play the Egyptian. To his credit, Sean does not even attempt an accent but this simply serves to show up how bad Lambert’s “Scottish” dialogue really is. [3] McLeod’s Brewery’s Scottish theme is clear on the beer labels and tap badges with a bold image of what is known in my homeland as a “hairy coo” (Highland cattle for the you lowlanders). Sometimes mistaken for a yak, the coo is basically a waterproof and hirsute bovine which survives in constant rain. To my cultural shame, I have never eaten one.

McLeod’s is taking over Malthouse on Friday 19 October 2018 with ten taps of genuine McBrew. Pouring on the night (subject to change) will be: McLeod’s Longboarder Lager (5%) – The brewer does not mince words – this beer is their flagship and it wins a lot of awards. Rightly so, as it is subtle and nuanced with notes of peach evident near the end. McLeod’s Heathen Session Pale Ale (3.8%) – A balanced session IPA with citrus hops over a solid biscuit malt backbone.

McLeod’s Paradise Pale Ale (5.5%) – Paradise is my second favourite beer from McLeod’s. The winner will be become obvious very shortly. It is a plump New World pale ale with notes of orange, lime and lemon.

McLeod’s Tropical Cyclone DIPA (8%) – To the complete non-surprise of regular readers, my prize tipple in this range is the Double IPA. Tropical Cyclone has a veritable downpour of orange, papaya, grapefruit and glory.

McLeod’s Traders Scotch Ale (7.2%) – This is a strong Scotch Ale, a style often known somewhat ironically as Wee Heavy. It is dark and rich with traditional notes ofcaramel, peated whisky and honey. A dash of rye provides body and dryness, while the New Zealand twist is the addition of a spicy Horopito tea after fermentation.

McLeod’s Lochaber West Coast IPA (7.5%) – How can I not adore a West Coast IPA named after a historical Scottish axe? Well, the actual beer is a mix of citrus, pine and sticky resin that really lingers.

McLeod’s 802 #12 Fresh, Unfiltered IPA – This is the very latest in their series of fresh hopped IPAs. This one is particularly dank and cloudy in the East Coast IPA style.

McLeod’s Smugglers Bay Belgian (9.4%) – A big Belgian style ale bursting with notes of bananas, bread crust and barnyard. It is much more delicious than I just made it sound. Sorry.

McLeod’s Smugglers Bay Red Sour Ale (6.6%) – Appropriately soured with two classic wild yeasts – Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus – this vintage has been aged for just over a year in French barriques (barrels) which once held Marlborough Pinot Noir. The result is a deep and decadent brew.

McLeod’s Bourbon Barrel-aged Brown Porter (5.7%) – Head brewer Jason Bathgate describes it as “like tearing into a freshly baked loaf of homemade sourdough bread, a piece of chocolate and a glass of bourbon.” I like two of those three things.

Coming up Malthouse will be hosting beer events featuring Yeastie Boys, Urbanaut, ParrotDog and Epic breweries. There will be more details in coming weeks but it is going to be an exciting end to the year.

Next time we drink to the new book by my favourite author PJ O’Rourke. I can’t wait to tuck into None of my Business. ‘[4]

[1] A pile of bling is hereby officially defined as “thirteen medals” in this context.

[2] The Highlander series fell apart worse than the Starship Troopers franchise or the Star Wars prequels. Even Lethal Weapon films with Joe Pesci were better.

[3] To his credit, Lambert is a serviceable lightning god Raiden in the much misunderestimated classic Mortal Kombat film.

[4] Thanks to my lovely partner who procured me one of the first copies in New Zealand through a miraculous new invention called “interwebs shopping”.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine


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