Gotta love some irony.

Ironically I wasn’t playing Ironic by Alanis Morissette. Well, it’s not really ironic, because I never play Alanis Morissette, never ever. As Irishman and honorary Kiwi Ed Byrnes famously said, “The only ironic thing about that song is it’s called Ironic and it’s written by a woman who doesn’t know what irony is. That’s quite ironic.”

Alanis is, of course, a Canadian musician, and regular readers of this blog will know my Blogmentor Neil Miller is a big fan of Canadian music. There’s a lot to like – Neil Young, Cowboy Junkies, Leonard Cohen, Daniel Lanois, just to get started. But unfortunately for Neil and anyone within karaoke earshot, Neil’s tastes tend towards the Justin Bieber/Burton Cummings/Bryan Adams end of the Canuck musical spectrum. Don’t ever get him started on Nickelback.

My own tastes are generally south of the 49th parallel, starting in Detroit and rolling lazily south to Memphis, Muscle Shoals and New Orleans. I learnt the trumpet as a kid but was never any good. I was playing brass band stuff and had never heard of a Miles Davis and anyway you can’t really play the trumpet until your heart’s been broken. It’s a lips thing.

Davis’s In a Silent Way isn’t silent of course. It’s sparse, it’s bare, but there is actual music, trumpets and stuff and a bass riff worth stealing. It’s not totally silent like John Cage’s 4’33” – if you want a real challenge, try to get a noise complaint while playing that one.

Which links us obviously and directly to Ginhouse Returns, 12-13 April.

Because, while vodka is like 4’33”, gin is like In a Silent Way. Vodka is simple, clear spirit, but gin takes the same pure spirit and then redistills it with berries, herbs and spices to add subtle hints of flavour and aroma and interest.

It’s that balance of subtlety and aroma/flavour that makes gin so alluring to craft brewers and drinkers. We’re used to the flavours and aromas of hops, especially the stone-fruity/piney/citrusy elements of new world IPAs. But gin is much more adaptable.

Juniper is compulsory, of course, by definition. The backing band, The Botanicals, can introduce just about anything the gin maker desires, in combinations that reinforce each other, working in the same way as a good spice rub.

And then you can additional layers of flavour with a good mixer. Tonic is the go-to, but today’s burgeoning craft soft drink scene gives many new options

Since the last Ginhouse, held in summer, Luke and Anthony from Hidden World Gin have crafted a new Hot Cross Bun gin, using the classic spice combination used in the paschal treat. It will be launched at Ginhouse Returns, on tap as the classic gin & tonic, and also available from the bottle, with the recommended mixer being Fever Tree Indian Tonic.

All up, there’s two gins on tap and another seven Hidden World Gins in the bottle with great mixers. If you’re looking for the old IPAs, eight Epic beers will be on tap, including the timeless Hop Zombie and Armageddon; newer arrivals Galactic Criminal and Shotgun; and the brand-spanking Wonder Juice, Epic’s first venture into the controversial hazy IPA.

Here’s the full Ginhouse Returns experience –


Perfect Gin & Tonic matches:

Hidden World Ginhouse Gin with Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic

Hidden World Guardian Gin with Schweppes Tonic

Hidden World Hot Cross Bun Gin with Fever Tree Indian Tonic

Hidden World Chilli Gin with East Imperial Thai Ginger Ale

Hidden World Floral Gin with Fentimans Rose Lemonade

Hidden World Cucumber Gin with Strange Love Light Tonic

Hidden World Navy 60% Gin with East Imperial Yuzu Tonic


Gin taps:

Hot Cross Bun Gin & Tonic



Epic beer taps:

Armageddon IPA 6.66% ABV

Galactic Criminal Australian pale ale 5.7% ABV

Awakening Pilsner 5.2% ABV

Epic Lager 5% ABV

Epic Pale Ale 5.4% ABV

Epic Shotgun XPA 4.8% ABV

Hop Zombie Double IPA 8.5% ABV

Epic Wonder Joose – New hazy IPA 6.2% ABV

Ginhouse Returns – From Friday 12 April until the gins pucker off



Martin Craig

Guest Malthouse Blogger