Wednesday, 10 January 2018 16:03

Starting 2018 with a healthy dose of sweet, sweet Liberty

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Welcome to the first Malthouse Blog of 2018. I hope you have all been enjoying at least some sort of break and frolicking in the generally lovely summer weather (except when a one-day international cricket match is being played, obviously).


It was a historic Christmas for me. For the first time in more than four decades of life on this earth I spent it away from my family. Instead, I was feasting and drinking and playing a raucous game of Monopoly in far off Napier – a city I growing quite fond of these days. I must confess it took me a long time – far too long a time – to build up the courage to ask my mother if it was OK to miss this Christmas at home. She was, as everyone except me knew, absolutely lovely about it.

New Year’s Eve too was lovely – lovely and quiet. I did not make any New Year’s Resolutions and never really have done. However, if I did, they would have been:


1)    Be more organised on the paperwork. (I would have failed miserably already).

2)    Clean and declutter the apartment in light of an impending and exciting change in domestic arrangements. (Very partial pass on that one to date).

3)    Attend more events at the Malthouse. (Going to make it happen on Friday – let me tell you how and why in the remainder of this post.)


2018 marks 25 years of trade for the Malthouse. Not a lot of bars in the highly competitive Wellington market can make that claim. To celebrate, Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor [1] has decided on a modest, circumspect and demure year-long celebration called “Project Silver”.

Named after the precious metal associated with a 25th anniversary, Project Silver will consist of a New Beer Launch every month from different breweries. For example, January will be Liberty Brewing, February will be Tuatara Brewery, March will be Emerson’s and so on. Unlike me, some people appear able to plan and organise more than three days ahead. The schedule will be progressively revealed on this blog and Malthouse’s multiple social media platforms.

Liberty is the first Holden Commodore off the rank. [2] The launch officially starts at 3pm on Friday 12 January 2018 and continues on Saturday 13 January 2018 if the beer holds out. That is not a given obviously. Brewer Joseph Wood will be in attendance to launch his new beer, answer any impertinent questions from mere punters, and to lay down a challenge to supposedly sophisticated Wellington craft beer drinkers.

Let us take those tasks in order.

Liberty’s new beer is a whole cone trial hop Pilsner. I already like it. Whole cone hops can present a depth and intensity of flavour, and trial hop means a hop I have probably never tried before. Although I tend to hide my personal beer preferences in this blog, I am actually very partial to hops – usually in vast numbers. [3]

The new beer is called Liberty Cone Thug Pilsner (5.5%) and I am looking forward to a pint or two – simply to analyse the new hop for research purposes of course. Well, that is what is I will tell my accountant about the expenses. Ironically, his office literally overlooks Malty so I might have to go in and sort out my GST first. I will definitely need a beer or two after that all too regular nightmare.

Malthouse will also have on tap Liberty Divine Wind Pilsner (5%) – a Japanese inspired lager that uses rice, noble hops and no dry hopping - and Liberty Halo Pilsner (5%) – which has been described by an award winning beer writer as a “zesty, well balanced pilsner with notes of grass, grape skin and mandarin.”

The Beatific, Patient and Forgiving Malthouse Unit Manager Ciaran immediately noticed that this formed a “Liberty Lager Trilogy” (Patent Pending). With all that lager available he felt it needed an appropriate food match and top of the list was, naturally, curry. So, in stead of Malthouse’s normal ‘Free Friday Feast’ of deep fried nibbles, theywill be serving a tasty curry, hand prepared with love and attention at the Fork & Brewer kitchen for FREE!! from 5.30pm, while stocks last of course.


Also of course, there is more. Joseph is also bringing down:


My beloved Liberty Citra IIPA (9%) – “a 9%, 100 IBU behemoth with plenty of hop action (grapefruit, citrus, resin, passionfruit, pine) and enough bitterness for even the most hardened hophead.” This is a direct quote from the same beer writer quoted above.

Liberty Yakima Monster (6.2%) – “Delicious.” - Same guy.

Liberty Yakima Scarlet (6.9%) - “Delicious and redder.” - Same guy again.

Liberty Kush IPA (7.3%) – An American style IPA brewed first for the legendary Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge last year. [4] It is really tasty and has almost enough hops – one of the highest compliments I ever give to a beer.


As foreshadowed earlier, Liberty Brewer Jo Wood will be in the bar for the event. So, Unit Manager Ciaran decided to honour his  presence in the most appropriate way he could find – he is setting up a beer pong table for any challengers feeling up to the task. This is no gimmick – he reminds all readers that “Jo and Christina are the current Malthouse Beer Pong Champs. So, anybody feeling brave must be sure to bring their A game!”

I have indulged in a few games of beer pong and it is tremendous fun. However, like Monopoly, it does tend to bring out the competitive streak in people. I used it as a “physical challenge” round at a corporate beer tasting event. High powered bankers and lawyers initially laughed at the thought of playing a college drinking game. Ten minutes later they were arguing about the rules of a game they had only just heard of. It was a thing of beauty, just as the Liberty launch will be on Friday.


Next time, we drink to craft beer at the Basin Reserve. It can be done people!


[1] First use of this term in 2018. I cannot believe it took ten whole days...

[2] That is a little joke about Liberty brewer Joseph Wood being just a little bit bogan. I mean that in the exactly the same sense that United States President Donald Trump is just a little bit polarising.

[3] The claim that “I tend to hide my personal beer preferences in this blog” has probably caused beer to be snorted in derision over a number of computer screens.

[4] Still getting used to referring to 2017 as “last year”. Will probably take only six months or so to adapt consistently.




Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine

DrinksBiz Magazine




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