Beer writer Geoff Griggs, an Englishman himself, has called Kieran “the most English man to have never visited England”.

Well that description no longer applies. Kieran made his first visit to the UK earlier this year, with a side trip to Belgium.

After a career promoting and brewing traditional English-style ales and Belgian beers, this was his first opportunity to taste them in their environment, fresh from the brewery, poured through a handpull, into an imperial pint, with a damp ferret down’t trouser.

So did the real thing match his expectations?

“Obviously it was pretty amazing. A lot of friends were waiting with bated breath to see if I actually liked the beers in England, and I did and found them to be amazingly high quality, but then I was being taken to the right pubs. Belgium was different but fantastic as well.

“It was cool to find the regional variations as I moved down through England and I certainly came back feeling revitalised to tweak some of our English-style beers.”

Every UK and Belgian import we taste in New Zealand has travelled about as far as it can on this planet, and even with the best care in the world, can’t arrive as fresh as it left the brewery. Kieran noted the difference.

“Some tasted vastly different. Timothy Taylor’s Landlord is unrecognisable from the bottled version. The cask version is really tropical, which is weird coz there’s no New World hops in it, but that yeast really works its magic.

“In Belgium, the lambics are a lot more subtle when you taste them fresh in Brussels. Out here they’re more sour, you can see why we misunderstand them and call them sour beers, because usually when we taste Cantillon a beer nerd has kept it in his cellar for a while and it’s developed some acidity. But when you have it fresh in Brussels it’s really subtle – funky, but not necessarily bracingly acid, and way more drinkable.”

Now that he’s back at North End, Kieran has taken his European experience and included it in his own brewing.

“We actually deleted a whole bunch of our English recipes as I left because they weren’t selling, but the ones that are left I’ve put a lot of effort into, just making real fine alterations to the recipe that I think has improved a lot since I went over there.

“Scattered Peaks is our nod toward the new school of English brewing. It’s a session IPA inspired by some of the hoppy beers that come from the Cornwall and Devon area. We’re using English-grown Cascade hops in it, which is quite interesting, then blending that with NZ hops.

“On the Belgian side of things I’ve been going a lot more traditional by using noble hops instead of NZ hops. The fresh batch of saison that’s out this week is traditional, and we’ve been working to make our spontaneous (fermented) beers a bit softer, using more hops to keep the acidity down.”

North End is taking over ten Malthouse taps this Thursday 4 July. Kieran will be in the ‘house from evening, telling stories about his trip, and sharing “little mouthfuls” of food matches throughout the night.

So what are his picks from the North End selection?

“We’ve got fresh Saison de Terroir which is tasting amazing. That’s a blend of two-year-old barrelled Saison and fresh Saison. And totally stepping outside the English/Belgian paradigm we’ve got Pit Boss Smoked Doppelbock that’s tasting pretty good.”

Here’s the full tap list:

Fieldway APA

Beach Hoist IPA

Sapphire Dry Hopped Lager

Iron Sands Oat Rye Stout handpull

Pit Boss Smoked Doppelbock

Scattered Peaks Session IPA

Blanc de Houblon White IPA

Petit Luna Hibiscus and Lime Sour

Saison de Terroir 2019 (Blended this week, 20L only)

Cuvee de Moor (20L only)

North End tap takeover, Malthouse, Thursday 4 July from 5pm



Martin Craig

And don’t forget the biggest day of the Malthouse year – Friday 26 July, it’s the 12th Annual West Coast IPA Challenge. Yass!

PLUS – keep an eye out for Malthouse Road to Beervana events in the week before Beervana 9&10 August.