At most bars, restaurants and bottle stores it is unusual for me to find a brew I haven’t tried before.  As always, the Malthouse is an exception because something new and unusual can often be found lurking in one of the five fridges.  Colin the Handsome and Softly Spoken Scotsman always enjoys pushing the limits of his inventory by picking up new or little-known beers.

It is therefore doubly exciting that on June 16 Malthouse will host the launch of not one but two completely new, extremely limited-edition brews.  Local heroes the Yeastie Boys return with their 2009 Pot Kettle Black and it’s a very different beast to last year’s popular offering.  Mild-mannered home brewer Steve Baker’s award-winning Take Your Daughter to the Porter has been commercially brewed and will be tapped for the first time that night.

Stu and Sam, the Yeastie Boys, say the latest batch of Pot Kettle Black breaks all the rules again.  For the second year in a row, they are proudly “throwing far more hops into a black beer than we were taught to.”  Described as New Zealand’s original Black India Pale Ale, Stu says the latest version is “bigger in all ways.”

At 6% and 50 bitterness units it is stronger and more intense though the level of perceived bitterness is lowered by the generous use of specialty malts.  The brewer’s tasting notes say the beer will “showcase the much loved ‘chocolate and orange’ character even more, so we’ve thrown in more Nelson-grown Cascade hops and supplemented these with a fistful of pungent imported Styrian Goldings in the middle of the boil.  We’ve also switched the yeast to Wyeast’s famous ‘Chico’ strain – the hop lovers yeast.  We could go into fanciful descriptors but it can be simply summed up as rich, hoppy and far, far too easy to drink.” 

Having read Stu and Sam’s reviews on the Rate Beer website, this author is happy to confirm that they are more than able to go into fanciful descriptors.  Between them, they appear to have about eleventy billion different ways of saying a beer is good.  Stu believes the beer should be “richer and smoother this year.”  It also officially uses “free range” water.  The plan at this stage is for Pot Kettle Black to be their staple winter beer but the recipe will be tweaked each year.  The Yeastie Boys say they never want to make exactly the same beer twice.
The brewing was again done at the Invercargill Brewery by Malthouse favourite Steve Nally.  Keep an eye out for a special project from Mr Nally later in the year hopefully.  Only 20 kegs of Pot Kettle Black 2009 have been made so Malthouse has exactly one-fifth of the world’s supply.  Don’t wait too long to try this fine beer or you may miss out.

 A software developer by day, Steve Baker made Take Your Daughter to the Porter which was a winner at the 2008 Society Of Beer Advocates (SOBA) National Home Brew Championship.  As a prize, 1,200 litres of his winning recipe was brewed by Steve Plowman at the Hallertau Brewery in Riverhead.  Steve Baker made the trip north to assist his namesake on brew day.  Only a third of that batch is coming to Wellington and the first pint will be poured at the Malthouse.

Steve explains that Take Your Daughter to the Porter (a play on an Iron Maiden song title) should be “a roasty porter, about 6% with a little sweetness to balance that roastiness.”  He has been home-brewing for three years and, while he generally prefers paler, hoppier beers, believes winter is the perfect time of year to brew darker styles of beer like Porter. 

All of Steve’s home-brew entries had names which were based on songs and Take Your Daughter to the Porter rates right up there on the official “great beer name but hard to say after a few” scale.  It’s probably just behind Hallertau’s annual Maximus Humulus Lupulus (returning to Malthouse on 17 July) and probably just ahead of the Mussel Inn’s Whale Tail Pale Ale (which is sadly now simplified to just Whale Pale Ale).

Alert readers might be wondering where the other two-thirds of the porter is going.  Well, 400 litres will be on tap at Hallertau (which is a must-visit location if you are ever forced to go to Auckland) while the remaining 400 litres has been bundled into old wine barrels.  After around four months barrel-aging and bottle-conditioning, it will emerge as Hallertau’s Porter Noir, a 6.6% porter which has been naturally affected by wild brettanomyces yeast.  Even the brewer says this beer is “way out of left field.”  He described last year’s vintage as “layers of complexity, red currents, earthy gumboots, a stroll through the barnyard?  All very interesting stuff.”

All very interesting stuff which might make it to the Malthouse later in the year.  Meanwhile, be sure to attend the launch and first tasting of Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black and Steve Baker’s Take Your Daughter to the Porter at Malthouse, from 7pm on 16 June 2009.  You may get to try a beer or two before I do!


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine


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