Award winning beer scribe Michael Donaldson noted in his recent “A Beer Lover’s Bucket List” article that “ParrotDog is the most reliably good brewery right now. As a go-to six pack I can’t go past their Falcon APA. Check out their retro-cool bar in Lyall Bay too.” There is no higher praise than that from the great man – it is a real shame that it was his last column in that newspaper. [1]

However, some of us knew ParrotDog before they became so freaking cool.

ParrotDog BitterBitch IPA was my number 1 beer of the year back in 2011. That was the same year that “Gnomeo and Juliet” was an inexplicably popular animated film, the television show “Fairly Legal” hit US screens (but sadly did not feature Hon Steven Joyce), John Key became Prime Minister of New Zealand, and “Party Rock Anthem” was topping the charts. [2]

In 2012, I conducted my first grown up beer writer interview and it just happened to be with the three Matts from ParrotDog. The definition of “grown-up” in this context is that I actually had some questions prepared, conducted it face to face at a bar, and recorded it on my trusty cassette Dictaphone. The result was a feature article in Dish magazine which remains to this day one of my favourite pieces of work.

It helped that Matt Warner, Matt Kristofski and Matt Stevens, the ParrotDog founders, had a great story to tell about their rapid move from home brewing to contract brewing to owning a brewery in their mid-twenties. I remember visiting when they opened. They had so much space that they parked their cars inside the Vivian Street brewery. Heck, they sometimes slept in the cars during a double shift day.

Fast forward to today and they have had to move in order to expand because the brewery – which they swore to me would last forever – had become way too small because of the growing demand for their beers. That demand, I believe, was led by the punchy BitterBitch pale ale but ParrotDog have also greatly expanded their range in recent years, as well as rebranding.

The Matts and the rest of team will be in attendance on Saturday 24 November 2018 when Malthouse pours 10 ParrotDog beers in Project Silver – Operation ParrotDog. Here are some short tasting notes:

ParrotDog West Coast Colin IPA (7%) – A dominant and deserved winner of the 2018 Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge. It did not initially have a fancy name but Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor of Malthouse now seems to be suggesting it is called “Colin”. [3] Breathtakingly fruity and heartbreakingly bitter. I loved it.

ParrotDog Lager (4.5%) – This is a simple floral lager with a quenching dry finish. If you are planning to try the whole range (and you should not in a single sitting), start with this one.

ParrotDog L.B. American Brown Ale (6%) – The L.B stands for Lyall Bay, the Wellington suburb which now hosts the ParrotDog posse. It is a combination of darkly toasted malt and fruity hops.

ParrotDog L.B. Pacific Ale (4.3%) – This juicy ale embraces New World hops with a bitterness that belies its relatively modest ABV.

ParrotDog L.B. Hefeweizen (5%) – There is no antipodean spin here. This is a classic German Hefe with notes of banana and spice.

ParrotDog Hawkeye Session IPA (4%) – Session IPA is very fashionable these days but they can tricky to make well. Here, there is a strong malt base allowing the fresh citrus hops to dance over the top in the exact manner that David Seymour MP thought he could dance on “Dancing with the Stars”. He could not.

ParrotDog Rifleman XPA (4.5%) – A clean crisp ale with a hint of grapefruit and an armed uprising against Donald Trump.

ParrotDog Pandemonium Pilsner (4.8%) – This is the Matt’s first commercial lager and it is proudly a modern twist (in terms of hops) on a classic base (in terms of malt). Very refreshing and sessionable as a result.

ParrotDog Falcon APA (5.4%) – I have to agree with Mr Donaldson because this is my new favourite too. [4] Lashings of grapefruit, lime and pine make this pale ale soar in my mouth.

ParrotDog BitterBitch IPA (5.8%) – The beer that really started the ParrotDog Brewery remains a classic even though it was initially brewed by a series of (fortunate) accidents. This tastes American (passionfruit and grapefruit) but the ingredient list is strongly English. That would explain the caramel and malt biscuit flavours underscoring this delicious drop.

Next time we drink to Ajaz Patel, man of the match on test debut. This 5’6 30 year old changed from a fast bowler to a spinner and then spun the Black Caps to a historic victory by just four runs. I watched the highlights today and right up until the end the commentators were only debating about how much Pakistan would win by. A great showing, tiger!

[1] Another of my most admired beer writers, Geoff Griggs, noted to me that it is getting harder to be a beer writer in New Zealand. We went through a phase when papers, magazines and websites were adding genuine beer content (not just press releases) but that trend seems – tragically – to be reversing in the last six months.

[2] To be fair, the lovely Adele recorded the awesome “Someone Like You” to balance the musical scales somewhat.

[3] A quick Google search annoyingly confirms it is now actually called “Colin”. Well, colour me surprised.

[4] Also because he is right about everything apart from fruit beers.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine


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