with two cocky contenders out to win the spoils of victory and, perhaps more importantly, bragging rights over the other for a whole year. 

This year, the Challenge kicks off on July 17 at Malthouse with Hallertau’s specially brewed Maximus Humulus Lupulus squaring off on tap against Epic’s brilliantly named Armageddon.  A few lucky Malthouse patrons had a sneak peak at both the brewers and tank samples of their respective brews at the very limited Epic Halcyon tasting.  Halcyon was the real ale Luke Nichols made in England for a huge beer festival.  Only ten litres ever made it to New Zealand and they did not last very long.

This event was, if you like, the weigh-in and the early favourite would have to be Hallertau.  However, Maximus has been in the tank two weeks longer than the Armageddon so the actual showdown will be a lot closer and a heap tastier. 

There was even a bit of a media scrum with some guys shooting footage of Luke and Steve Plowman (Hallertau head brewer and general bearded good guy) talking about pale ales and their contest.  They worked for “YouTube” apparently so that footage is currently being edited.  Luke will undoubtedly twitter and blog the appropriate link the second it is available provided he has stopped ranting about Wilson Parking.  This blog will probably mention the final video some weeks later.  We just work at different speeds.

So there was the media, there was the weigh-in and, wisely, both brewers declined to impersonate classic professional wrestlers in order to promote the Challenge.  But if they had, it might have gone something like this:

The Nature Boy Steve Plowman:  “Imp, let me tell you something.  I’ve spent my entire career seeing off punks like you.  Women want to be with me, men want to be me.  I’m a limousine-riding, jet flying, kiss stealing, wheeling-dealing, porter noir drinking son of a gun.  Woooo!  My shirt costs more than your entire house. A word of advice slick, stand up when you talk to me…  if you want to be the man, you have to beat the man. 

You’ve got to climb Space Mountain!  Wooo!

He then strutted around the room, emitted another “wooo” and then flopped face first into a table. (That final move is now trademarked by Mathieu Basteraud.)

The Imp: “Finally, The Imp has come back to the Malthouse!  The Imp has taken time out of his busy Hollywood schedule to address the Nature Jabroni.  His brewery is located outside of Auckland on the corners of Know Your Role Avenue and Shut Your Mouth Boulevard.  You cannot challenge The Imp.  How many IBU’s does your beer have?  It doesn’t matter how many IBUs your beer has!  The Imp will layeth the smack down on your roody poo candy ass.  If you smell what The Imp is cooking!”

I’m delighted to report that both their nicknames appear to be sticking.

The hype for the Challenge already exceeds Tua vs Cameron and the end result is likely to be a lot more satisfying too.  Head down to the Malthouse and, from 17 July, try the contenders and let the staff know which you think is the undisputed champion.

Remarkably, the West Coast Challenge is not the only major pale ale related story for July.  Pete Brown, favoured beer author of the Handsome and Softly Spoken Scotsman, has just published a rather excellent book– Hops and Glory.  He takes a cask of pale ale from Britain to India by ship, retracing the long journey which helped create this marvellous style of beer.  He even graphically demonstrates some of the pitfalls of transporting beer in warm climes by having a 20-litre cask explode in a rented house.  Apparently you never realise how much beer is 20 litres until you are on your hands and knees sopping it out of the carpet.

Anyway, over a quiet pint of Epic one evening, the Handsome and Softly Spoken Scotsman had the crazy idea of recreating Pete’s recreation right here in New Zealand.  He asked the Impish brewer to procure some wooden barrels and fill them with Armageddon.  The Impish brewer immediately agreed.  He asked the Interislander ferry if the barrels could go on their ship for up to six weeks.  The Interislander people immediately agreed. 

The new oak barrels, called Pete (for obvious reasons) and Melissa (after beer writer Melissa Cole) will experience changes in temperature and constant movement.  Tapping them and finding out what effect the voyage has had will be a little bit of history and it will undoubtedly be at Malthouse – the home of beer in Wellington.

“So whatcha going to do, brothers, when the hoppiest beers in the country run wild on you?”


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine


Epic – http://www.epicbeer.com/
Impish Brewer – http://imp.epicbeer.com/
Hallertau – http://www.hallertau.co.nz/
Steve Plowman – http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3126/2598667299_a1de94c9aa.jpg?v=0
Pete Brown – http://petebrown.blogspot.com/
Hops and Glory –


Melissa Cole – http://girlsguidetobeer.blogspot.com/
Malthouse Facebook Group – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wellington/Malthouse/7084276173
Real Beer – http://www.realbeer.co.nz/blog/blog.html
Beer and Brewer Magazine – http://www.beerandbrewer.com/