That is not a problem in my household – obviously – given my penchant for grilled ham sandwiches. It should be noted that I only eat them at Breakfast, Second Breakfast, Elevenses, Luncheon, Afternoon Tea, Dinner, and/or Supper.


Putting aside my controversial (and unsuccessful) Hobbit diet system, it is almost February. Or, to be more accurate, it is almost Flagship February. If you have not heard of this fine and proud celebration, it is probably because it has never happened before.


Flagship February is the creation of brew scholar Stephen Beaumont (my second favourite Canadian) [1] aided by the great US beer writer Jay R Brooks (who I met once), and Porter Hughes. While the first two are legends in the craft beer community, I could not immediately place the third member Porter Hughes, partly because it is not a person but actually turns out to be a Toronto creative agency.


Anyway, what started as a vague notion rapidly moved into a grassroots movement and is now a global trend. Bars around the world, from 1 February 2019, will actively showcase some of the flagship beers from craft brewers, new and established. These are beers Beaumont calls “oldies but goodies”. Of course, he explains it a lot better:

“A lot of beer drinkers have developed a sort of ADD with respect to the beers they drink, so going for a glass of beer at the bar or pub becomes less a pleasant distraction and more a relentless search for what’s new and exciting. In this mad rush towards the unusual and unknown, we tend to forget the great, familiar and still-wonderful beers that guided us all along the path to the craft beer renaissance.”

Just because a beer is new or unusual doesn’t mean that it’s good , and in my non-professional time I’ve found myself retreating more and more to proven greats rather than the ballyhooed unknowns of the ‘special release’ world,” he writes. “Of course, as a beer writer focused on new releases, I have to take my share of the blame for the current state of affairs, so I guess this is part of my penance.”


Oh Canada – it truly is the politest country in the world unless you are playing ice hockey.


As part of Flagship February there will be a new website featuring a flagship beer review each day from 28 international beer writers. I am proud to say that I will be one of them – and apparently one of the first ten because I accidentally checked my email and actually replied to a message. I immediately selected my beer (Epic Armageddon) but today changed it to Epic Pale Ale. Sure, Armageddon is a better beer, but Epic Pale Ale had more of an impact on the New Zealand craft beer scene. [2] I have 500-800 words to justify that assertion.


Malthouse is one of the first bars to embrace the concept and is offering up what I would call a spectacular beer list even if I was not being paid to write about it. Realistically, I may have to get a proper job to pay for these beauties I want to drink. There are so many I cannot do individual reviews but I will assign stars from 1 (Corona) to 10 (Armageddon) to 1,000 (Pliny the Elder). Here we go on Judgement Night:


8Wired Hopwired – 10

8Wired Tall Poppy – 8 (but 10 with the right food)

Epic Pale Ale – 8

Epic Armageddon – 10

Liberty Yakima Monster – 8

Liberty Darkest Days – 7

ParrotDog BitterBitch – 7 (though the early version would have been a hard 9)

ParrotDog BloodHound – 6

Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta – Negative 1,000 (tea beer is evil)

Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black – 8 (curse you for making me like a dark beer)

Tuatara Pilsner – 7 (classic)

Tuatara Tomahawk – 7

Bach Brewing Kingtide – 7

Moa Lager – 6

Moa Apple Cider – I refuse to review ciders on the grounds I may incriminate myself. [3]

Baylands Woodrow’s Veto – 10

Fork Brewing Base Jumper – 9

Three Boys Wheat – 7 (still my favourite local wheat beer)

Three Boys Oyster Stout (if available) – 8

Emerson’s Bookbinder – 9 (the Guv’nor)

Garage Project Garagista – 8

Garage Project Pernicious Weed – 9 (dude…)


Next time we drink to the Los Angeles Rams. Not only are they West Coast Massive, but they are playing the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl of American Football. Every right thinking person on this green earth should be supporting whoever the Patriots are playing.


[1] No one beats Shatner obviously.


[2] The number of articles I have written in 2019 that do not mention Luke Nicholas or Epic Brewing Company currently sits at – waiting for the calculations – none.


[3] This is the Fifth Amendment for Beer Writers.




Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine




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