Cuba Street is truly a bizarre, quirky and unusual part of Wellington. It was named after an 1840 settler ship (The Cuba) and even Wikipedia acknowledges, "it is one of the more bohemian areas of Wellington". The only credible challenger to that title would be the Aro Valley, which consistently records the highest number of votes for Green Party candidates. [1]

It may surprise many gentle readers but I spent a year working on Cuba Street while at university. It was at the Charcoal Chicken shop at the top of the street. I had a lovely yellow shirt and received the minimum wage. The main perk was that we got a free meal so it became a contest between employees to see who could fit the most food between two buns and still count it as one burger.

Working on Cuba Street gave a genuine insight into the locals. One guy walked into Chicky's Charcoal Chicken and asked, "What do you have for people who hate chicken?" The boss said, "Potatoes, coleslaw or directions to McDonalds." Another chap came in, bleeding but unworried, and ordered an elaborate chicken meal. We gave him whatever was ready at that moment just to get rid of him. He seemed happy.

There was one lesson I learned that is applicable to brewing. When sales were slow the owner would tip chicken fat over the hot charcoal. This would release a wave of delicious smoke which was picked up by the internal extractor fan and spread over the neighbourhood. Almost immediately customers would start coming in. One chap actually said, "I was heading home to cook dinner for the family but I could not resist that smell. I think they will prefer your chicken to my cooking!"

I dubbed this practise "olfactory advertising". [2] The same phenomena can occur during brewing. That smell of fresh baked bread is hard to resist. [3] After I left there was a block of apartments built across the road and the new residents immediately complained about the smell from a business that had been there for years. It is like the people who move into apartments on Courtenay Place and complain about the noisy night life, or punters who buy a cheap house near the airport and then moan about the plane noise. They need a long cool glass of concrete juice and harden the frack up.

Each year there is a celebration of Cuba Street and the Cuba Street Quarter. It is CubaDupa which is billed as "Wellington's vibrant street festival revering the epic creative spirit of Cuba Street and the Wellington community". There will be food, drink and live performances on Saturday 19th March (noon to midnight) and Sunday 20th March (noon to 5pm). A link to the festival's webpage is below.

Malthouse is near Cuba Street and is getting in on the action by pouring CubaDupa Brew #2 (5.2%). This is a collaboration brew from Kelly Ryan (Fork Brewing) and Carl Vasta (Tuatara). They note that, “while immersing yourself in the celebrations that are uniquely Wellington, the CubaDupa brew is the perfect drop to complement the total sensory experience. Relax and soak up the atmosphere".

Brew #2 is a Pale Ale made using three malts (Gladfield American Ale, Gladfield Toffee Malt, Gladfield Light Crystal) and three hops (Centennial, Columbus, Nelson Sauvin). It weighs in at 23 IBU with floral notes and tropical fruit flavours. The colour is described as "morning sunrise", which I'm pretty sure are Kelly's words rather than the more down-to-earth Carl Vasta. [4] One third of the money raised through sales of this beer goes back to CubaDupa to support the festival.

Malthouse will also be launching a new beer from former Champion Brewery of New Zealand, 8Wired. Brewer, Soren Eriksen, has been busy thinking up new beers from his sparkling brewery in Warkworth (near Auckland). Kegged just yesterday, 8Wired Str8up IPA will be pouring at Malthouse from midday on Sunday. Ciaran Duffy, the bubbly, balanced, yet bawdy Malthouse Unit Manager, describes it as being “very, very fresh”. [5] Additionally, Ciaran reports that 8Wired brewer Soren Eriksen “will be in Malthouse having a few scoops on Sunday from about 7pm”. Now some words from the brewer: "It's 6% Simcoe, Amarillo, Galaxy, 60ish IBU. I'd call it a very standard West Coast IPA. Citrus, pine, etc. etc. Designed to just be a straight up, to the point, easy drinking IPA."

Finally, to acknowledge the on-going link between Cuba Street and weirdness, here is a passage by Jane Peyton (British Institute of Innkeeping Beer Academy of Beer Beer Sommelier of the Year) [6] which appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of Beer and Brewer magazine. She was asked, "What is the connection between brewing and witchcraft?" [7] Here is her answer:

"Until the late medieval era most beer in Europe was produced in the home by women. Not all women brewed beer – only those with enough financial resources to afford the material and equipment for brewing beer. People who did not have access to beer brewed in their own home would buy it from the local ale-wife.

"When witch-hunting became rife many of the women accused of witchcraft were brewers. Until the 19th Century people did not understand yeast and fermentation so it was considered to be magic. All the cartoon motifs of a witch are also the tools of trade of a brewer. Cats are necessary to control vermin that would eat the malted barley. The cauldron is the kettle in which the wort is boiled. During fermentation the yeast creates a froth, which appears to bubble and grow before the eyes.

"In England during the medieval era, people selling ale had by law to erect an ale-stake outside their door. The ale stake was a long piece of wood with twigs at the end, like a broom. A broom is also a useful tool for sweeping spilled malts from the floor. The ale-wife would often sell surplus ale in the market and in order to be seen in a crowd would wear a hat with a pointed dome. Does all that sound redolent of a witch's fancy dress costume at Halloween?"

Next time, we drink to the mighty Scottish rugby team who thrashed the French in rugby this week. It is worth celebrating even if the result did hand England the Six Nations Championship.  

[1] As a registered member of the National Party I can only make brief, unpublicised visits to Aro Valley and then only ever to visit Garage Project brewery.

[2] Sales by Smell.

[3] I've never managed to.

[4] If the tasting notes said, "It looks like beer, you idiot", then I would have believed that Carl wrote it.

[5] Well, that was the gist of it. This is a family blog after all...

[6] Three mentions of beer in your job title is mightily impressive.

[7] I think we all wanted to know this.



Neil Miller


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The titles of the last two Malthouse blogs ('It’s a Brew Day... because Brew Day Rocks, Brew Day Rocks" and "Don't you dare be sour, Malthouse better feel the power – it's Sourfest") were inspired by professional wrestling, specifically the current and reigning two-time Tag Team Champions, "The New Day". [1]

To completely change the tone and attempt to bring in a better class of reader, this week's title comes from William Shakespeare, a famous (probably real) writer and definitely not a professional wrestler. [2] He penned the immortal line, "Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course." [3]

Sourfest, a celebration of piquant and pungent brews, approaches at Malthouse. The festival will start on 11 March 2016 and will continue right through until the sour beers run out. That could be quite a while as Sourfest will showcase around 20 local sour beer examples from breweries large and very small. Eager "Sour Lollies" [4] will have seen in last week's blog my notes of wildly varying qualities on over a dozen sour beers. The sours covered there were:

Renaissance - Citrus Kiss (3.7%)

Invercargill Brewery -  Boysenbeery Sour (5%)

Choice Bros - Tremble Like a Flower (3%)

Tuatara Brewery - Tart (7.9%)

Tuatara Brewery - Barrel Aged Sour (6%)

North End - Rivage Brux (6.2%)

Wild and Woolly - Orchard Sour (4.2%)

Black Dog - 14-Month Barrel Aged Sour

Garage Project - Wabi Sabi Sour (7.7%)

Good George - Waikato Sour (6.5%)

Hallertau - Funkonnay (6.5%)

Hallertau - Porter Noir (6.6%)

Hop Federation - Cherry Berliner Weisse (4%)

Moa - Persimmon Sour (6.7%)

Fork Brewing - Tainted Love (6.2%)

Fork Brewing - Yoghurt & Bruesli (8%)

mike’s - The Strawberry Lies Down on Lambic (5%)

Eagle Brewing - Golden Sour (3.8%)

ParrotDog - Rarebird Tomtit (5.6%)

Sparks Brewing - Forbearance Sour (3.6%).

8 Wired - Hippy Pomelon Gose (4.5%)

Funk Estate - Gose Town (4.4%)

Brewer Kerry Gray has provided additional notes on his "Polish Sour Cherry Beer" called Choice Bros Tremble Like a Flower (3.0%). It is always great to hear directly from the brewer, particularly when this writer has no idea what a "Polish Sour Cherry Beer" is. My only advice would be to "do not put it on tap next to a German Wheat Beer".

Right, if we are quite done mentioning the war [5], here are exclusive notes from Kerry Gray on Tremble Like a Flower:

“It's tasting pretty lush, reminiscent of Cantillon, light, clean, refreshing and not over the top in sourness or fruit. It's designed to be traditional workers' brew, to be consumed by the full glass as a refresher during lunch.

None of this palate-wrecking, penis-comparing business that has happened recently with sours, competing to be like a Short Circuit lolly from our childhood.

FYI - I had two separate fermenters of this same beer. One of them fermented clean, the other had some natural funk from the cherries. I kegged one of each fermenter and one blend of 50/50. Malthouse will have the blend pouring." [6]

The twenty-odd sour beers [7] from New Zealand brewers will be joined by some international sours ranging from the classics to the cutting edge. These include Wild Beer/Burning Sky/Fork Brewing Schnoodlepip 2015 (Somerset - 6.5%), Wild Beer Squashed Grape (Somerset - 5%), Lindeman’s Gueuze (Belgium - 5.5%) and Boon Kriek (Belgium - 4%).

While researching this post, I was reading the latest Malthouse list of guest taps. There is a section of five beers, right next to each other, which made me salivate. Quite a shame it was 9am and Malthouse would not open for many hours. Here is the list and some short notes:

- Epic Hop Zombie (Auckland - 8.5%): One of my all-time favourite IIPAs and my beer of choice at Malthouse for many years.

- Fork Brewing/Breakside ORE India Golden Ale (Wellington - 9%): My beer of choice at the Fork & Brewer since a few minutes after it was made.

- Rocky Knob Snapperhead IIPA (Mt Maunganui - 7.4%): My overall number one beer of 2015. It also picked up a Gold medal at the New Zealand Beer Awards which made me feel happy (and somewhat vindicated).

- Liberty Yakima Monster IPA (Auckland - 6.2%): Delicious and slightly more responsible than the three beers above. Slightly...

- Thornbridge Brewery Jaipur X IIIPA (Derbyshire - 10%): One of my favourite English beers of all time. Like the other beers on this list, it is dangerously drinkable for those with a love of hops.

Trivia Time: Did you know that Kelly Ryan has brewed for three breweries on this list – Epic, Fork Brewing and Thornbridge? Well, you do now. #brewjesus #triviatime 

Next time we drink to craft beer being mentioned in the New Zealand Parliament's Question Time!

[1] The group is comprised of Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods. They play a trombone during matches, love to shake their BOOTY and encourage their fans to wear official WWE-licensed unicorn horns on their heads. This is because they are magic unicorns... apparently. It's not always easy to explain pro wrestling to normal people...

[2] Though Shakespeare shows could get a bit rowdy as everyone had been drinking since breakfast because if you drank water then you died.

[3] Mind you, he also wrote, "What ho, what ho, what ho!" the only line the (off-stage) Sailor has in Othello (Act 1, Scene 3). The Sailor is my favourite Shakespearean character because he does not spend hours reciting poems in silly trousers.

[4] Sour Lollies is my new term for "Fans of sour beer". Sadly, it is not really catching on. Maybe if I got (Sir) Roger Protz to say it...

[5] "Listen, don't mention the war! I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it all right." – (Sir) John Cleese.

[6] "Palate-wrecking, penis-comparing business." – I wish I had written that. Thanks to the miracle of Google search algorithms, some people might think that I actually had!

[7] And some of them are really odd.



Neil Miller

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There are hop heads, malt monsters and, more recently, sour lollies. [1] Sour beers are one of the hottest trends in New Zealand beer and have a legion of fans. To pander to their love of mouth-tuckering libations, Malthouse will be holding Sourfest to showcase around 20 local sour beer examples from breweries large and very small. The festival will start on 11 March 2016 and will continue right through until the sour beers run out.

I/m not sure what I have done wrong [2] but here are my comments on each of the beers currently confirmed. There is a caveat – I have not tried many of these - partly because a number have not been released yet and partly because they are sour fruit beers. What could possibly go wrong? Punch it, Chewie:

Renaissance Citrus Kiss (3.7%) – This former Champion Brewery of New Zealand is starting to walk more and more on the sour side. As the name suggests, there is a battle between citrus and sour in the glass and opinion on-line is divided about which side of the brew dominates.

Invercargill Boysenbeery Sour (5.0%) – The huggable Steve Nally and his team in Invercargill Brewery have long used fruit in beer, including a boysenberry stout. This is a sour version of their regular boysenberry beer which has a number of Belgium-style notes. [3]

Choice Bros Tremble Like a Flower (3.0%) – This is the first beer I've seen described as a Polish Sour Cherry Beer so it will probably be the best one I've ever tried. Be warned – if you don’'t have David Bowie’s "Let’s Dance" in your head for two hours after even reading this beer's name then you have worse taste in music than me. [4] If you actually drink it then I imagine the song will be an earworm for a day.

Tuatara Tart (7.9%) – Dubbed by the brewers as "The Raspberry Charmer" this pink blush beer is designed to blend "the characteristics of a robust Belgian-styled beer to the tart charms of raspberry.". The bottle label is so pink that I said, "Damn, that's really pink." I'm colour blind but it was so pink I actually got the colour right. [5]

North End Rivage Brux (6.2%) – It is the first "Salt and Wood" Reserve beer from Kieran Haslett-Moore in his new Waikanae brewery. He describes it as "a Farmhouse ale aged with Brettanomyces in Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc barrels and dry hopped with Wai Iti hops. The result is tangy, lightly funky with an underlying grapey note." I'm not going to argue with Kieran's palate – particularly on one of his own beers.

Wild and Woolly Orchard Sour – This is a limited edition apricot sour beer from a Wellington nano-brewery. I was at the Greater Wellington Brew Day and overheard a number of people saying, "I don’t usually like beer but I love this!" [6]

Black Dog 14 Month Barrel Aged Sour – I can confidently predict this beer is from Black Dog Brewery (a nearby neighbour of Malthouse) and it will be a sour beer (probably a Saison) which has been aged in barrels for just over a year. Sorry, I got nothing else. 

Garage Project Wabi Sabi Sour (7.7%) - When the Garage Project team themselves call the beer "challenging and interestingly different", then there has to be something seriously funky happening in the bottle. I'm not sure whether to kiss Wabi Sabi or hide under the table until someone else drinks it. It is a strong golden beer which has been soured by multiple strains of semi-wild yeasts and bacteria then conditioned on Yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit) and honey dew melon. You know, the usual. [7]

Good George Waikato Sour (6.5%) – As far as I can tell, this a barrel aged and bretted Sour Ale. I am reliably informed by the barmy, benevolent and bounderish Unit Manager, Ciaran Duffy that this is the "last keg ever".

Hallertau Funkonnay (6.5%) – While many breweries use wild yeast, semi wild yeast, sour fruit or barrel aging to impart a certain sourness and funkiness in their beer, Steve Plowman from Hallertau takes a unique approach. He emerges his naked body in the wort and tastes it constantly until it achieves that magic sourness. Mr. Plowman predictably claims he uses "nice bugs" and Chardonnay barrel aging to get the dry peachy finish. [8] 

Hop Federation Cherry Berliner Weisse (4.0%) – This beer is being launched at Malthouse's Sourfest. Berliner Weisse is a challenging style for me to like but I do like it better with a shot of syrup. I'm presuming the cherries take on that kind of role to soften the acidity of the Weisse but also bringing in the sweet and tart character of cherry. [9]

Moa Persimmon Sour (6.7%) – Moa is in the process of developing a number of sour beers including the new Persimmon Sour which will be launched at Malthouse and is available only in limited amounts. For the record, a persimmon is "the edible fruit of a number of species of trees in the genus Diospyros. Diospyros is in the family Ebenaceae." [10] As a fruit it looks like and is often treated like an apple, but it is technically a berry. Not a lot of people know that...

Fork Brewing Tainted Love (6.2%) – I’m going to defer to former Beer Writer of the Year Michael Donaldson on this one from his article: "No soft sell needed: it's tainted love". He wrote, "It's tart but not sour and is offset by a remarkable passionfruit note which comes from … passionfruit. There's also a juniper tea which gives a bitter woody, pine note similar to hops. And then there's yoghurt … did I say this was no ordinary beer? The yoghurt culture, without the dairy component, is used to sour the beer... I don't think I've had a more refreshing or interesting beer this side of the winter solstice." [11]

Mike's The Strawberry Lies down on Lambic (5.0%) – This is another launch beer at Malthouse this year. The team at mike's have been playing around with barrels for many years now in their remote Urenui brewery. Usually it has been big old stouts however mike's Strawberry Blonde lager has long been part of their core range. Now they are combining wild yeast and lots of strawberries and the results will be... interesting!   

Eagle Golden Sour (3.80%) – The Christchurch brewers describe this as "Kettle Soured Golden Ale blended with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, filtered". I know I've hidden it really well over the years but I don't particularly care for sour beers, fruit beers and/or sour fruit beers. But - and this is a big but - the last three grapefruit beers I've tried have been sensational. If you see me drinking a sour ale at Malthouse, it's probably going to be this one.

ParrotDog Rarebird Tomtit (5.60%) – One of the Rarebird speciality range from the three Matts at ParrotDog, they introduced it as a Sour Ale conditioned on tamarillos. It is not the first time tamarillos have appeared in beer but it has been a while. I suspect it will be a polar opposite to the Epic Portamillo which was a dark beer with smoked tamarillo. This one will be sharper and fresher. 

Sparks Brewing Forbearance Sour (3.60%) – Brewer Adam Sparks says, "I really enjoy the added layer of complexity that sourness can bring to a low alcohol beer like this. Combined with a good dose of late hops and a heavy hand of dry hops, the resulting character is so similar to fresh grapefruit. You see real fruit has tannins, bitterness and sourness all in one bite and it is this very sensation that I'm trying to replicate with Forbearance." A dry hopped sour beer that tastes like grapefruit, I might have to give this one a go too.

There will also be beers from 8 Wired and Funk Estate, plus probably a few others. Details as they come to hand. Don't you dare be sour, Malthouse better feel the power – it's Sourfest! 

Next time we drink to slipping another wrestling reference into the blog title. 


[1] This is yet to catch on as a tagline for the lovers of sour beers.

[2] The list is too long...

[3] Did you see the clever spelling of “Boysenbeery”? Who says people in Invercargill can’t write? Apart from the Ministry of Education of course...

[4] Nobody wants that particular epithet.

[5] On before of colour blind people everyone, when we reveal our affliction, please do not ask us what colour every single item of clothing you are wearing is. (This is called Don’s Law).

[6] I’m always impressed by non-beer drinkers who go to a beer festival and try all the things. I doubt I could go to festivals featuring wine or Green Chartreuse.

[7] In a 2014 Malthouse Blog I (half) joked that Pete Gillespie could pee in a barrel, throw in some Brett yeast, age the beer in a port barrel with smoked kippers for a year and people would throw money at him to buy a magnum of the stuff. I have to say I'm kind of surprised this has not happened yet...

[8] His brewery is full of barrels but I think they are largely for show.

[9] If you see me drinking this, go and hug your loved ones. It’s a sign of the appocolypse.

[10] But I’m sure you already knew that. 

[11] Standard Disclaimers: I own a small part of Fork Brewing and think Michael Donaldson is really awesome.



Neil Miller

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As foreshadowed in last week's blog I spent Valentine's Day at the cricket while others were enjoying aphrodisiacal ales and strawberries at Malthouse. I can confirm that Tui Lager at the Basin lacks any discernible romantic characteristics, however it is easier to use the empty Tui trays to build a "fortress to keep the haters out" than it would be building a fort using leftover strawberry stems. In their defence, the Basin was selling Black Dog beers too and they sold out very quickly. [1]

There was not much to cheer about at the game because New Zealand got thoroughly owned by the Australians. It was a complete sell-out crowd but in general it was as quiet as David Warner at a spelling bee. Fortunately I managed to find a spot in the shade otherwise I would have melted in the hot Wellington sun while watching the defeat. For the record, I did not take "the sign".

Ironically, it has rained pretty much constantly in Wellington since we lost but then we deserved to. In other news, every cicada in existence has seemingly woken up this week and is now chirping outside my office window. They are almost drowning out the whistling workman next door with a hammer who likes hitting metal things since 6:34am. [2] On balance, I'm on #teamcicada. [3]

There are seven beers on tap at Malthouse I want to discuss today so here we go:

Fork Brewing Godzone Beat Champion Pale Ale (Wellington) 5.9% 

I have to start with the super obvious disclaimer that I am a director at Fork Brewing and have been since before the opening. [4] This beer frankly surprised me. I was expecting a run of the mill mainstream pale ale for the corporate crowd, but brewer Kelly #brewjesus Ryan has made it awesome. It is packed with New Zealand hops - think orange and spice - but still balanced and drinkable. Plus you can now buy it in bottles. [5] You should do so immediately.

Beavertown Gamma Ray APA (Tottenham) 5.4%

I've been to the London pub where Beavertown was first brewed but I have to say it was not easy. I was on a "fact finding mission" to Pilsen in the Czech Republic with a night in London. The taxi was a rather sexy looking unmarked black SUV which made me feel like a rock star... until we attempted to go anywhere.

The ride had been booked months in advance, we gave the driver the name of the pub and the street address, but he refused to move until we gave him the postcode too. He had a huge GPS system on the dash, but we had to use Kiwi cell phones to find the secret code. After all that he drove straight past the pub and had to do a seven point turn in a cul-de-sac.

Anyway, Beavertown are a delightfully creative London brewery. Their beers are being bought in by the good peeps at Beertique and the Rye IPA is pretty special is an APA with ray guns on the label – of course I would have this first. My notes read: "slightly hazy golden, thick and finely bubbled head, lasting caramel mid-bitterness, smooth carbonation but not hugely APA." Looking back, it's at the more subtle end of the scale - balanced and tasty.

Epic Brooklyn IPA (Auckland) 6.3% 

Yet another disclaimer – because they are cool, right? – I have not drunk this beer since yesterday. I came out of a six hour meeting where I took 23 pages of notes and, unsurprisingly, wanted a beer. Brooklyn is a new hop (December 2015) and this is the first Kiwi beer made with it. I had a Brooklyn and adored the citrus and grapefruit notes. My intention was to stay for just a quick one but my Malthouse bar tab suggests otherwise.

Kereru Imperial Nibs Stout (Wellington) 8.5%

I have been known to have strong opinions on beers – hoppy (in favour), fruit (opposed) and coconut (opposed). It turns out that I was wrong. [6] After cracking open a For Even Greater Justice Toasted Coconut Porter on a hot Wellington evening late last year I was enchanted by the flavours – toasted coconut (clearly), vanilla (from the vanilla beans), coffee (from the cacao nibs) but with a clean finish. 

I sent brewer Chris Mills a text saying, "I may have been overly judgemental about your coconut beer." He replied, "That is the most intriguing thing you have said all year." [7] Imperial Nibs is a stronger version of For Even Greater Justice and all the more intriguing for it.

Fork Brewing Shadow Majestic Milk Stout (Wellington) 4% 

I'm not sure who is in charge down at the Fork & Brewer, but they keep letting Kelly #Frodo Ryan brew beers with yoghurt and ice lollies. Make more pale ales, you scruffy yet sexy hippy! Anyway, this beer is named after the fact that the Fork is literally in the shadow of the Majestic Centre during all the hours of sunshine we have had this summer. You know, twice as much as Auckland.

Ryan defends making a dark beer for summer saying:

"I like brewing loads of different beer styles, but for some reason, it's the darker ones - the stouts and the porters - that are my favourite to brew. In terms of hops, I wanted to bring this away slightly from the standard milk stout. Shadow Majestic courts both Kiwi and US hops. It's a nod to our Pacific friends in the USA and the wonderful American-style stouts that are often jammed full of big, resinous and punchy West Coast US hops."

"My mind's eye had something with some extremely gentle roastiness, a little raisin and prune character and a lovely candied fruit hop character to round it off. I don't know if there is such a thing as a Pacific Milk Stout. There seems to be very few new ideas in brewing, but it sounded good to me."

Funk Estate Super Afrodisiac Imperial Stout (Auckland) 8.3% 

The cornerstone of Malthouse's Valentine's Day weekend, this is a sexy, smooth, sultry beer – just like the young guys that brewed it. It is the beer that beatific, bold and bombastic Unit Manager Ciaran Duffy claimed would "get the town shagging!" I guess we will know for sure in nine months or so...

In the Hopinator there are - surprise, surprise - no hops. But there are chillies, many chillies. Flowing over their fiery and war-like corpses is none other than Epic Armageddon IPA (Auckland) 6.66%. I adore Armageddon and generally dislike chilli beer [8] but this particular combination of fruit, bitterness and heat absolutely nails it. In the words of Fry from Futurama, "Shut Up and Take My Money"!

Mr Bombastic, Ciaran Duffy, wanted this quote included: "The internet is dangerous, it's convinced me that I'm a hypochondriac." I believe Abraham Lincoln said that first.

Next time, we drink to Brendon McCullum. 

[1] Hopefully the Basin Reserve will take note of the demand and increase the supply of Black Dog and, best case scenario, other craft beers too.

[2] For my Canadian readers who were previously unfamiliar with cicadas until they got a photo of one literally two feet above me at the cricket, they are now pretty much everywhere, including, according to the local newspaper, on buses now. Another strike against public transport...

[3] Fletcher Construction tells the Body Corporate they start work at 7:30am. They tell me they start at 7:00am. They are liars.

[4] Apparently this is still important to a couple of people. 

[5] For the record, writing a 24-word beer label is actually harder than writing a 1,000 word blog.

[6] This will come as a surprise to absolutely no one. 

[7] It was mid-January. I've said many intriguing and/or odd things since then. 

[8] Because I am a wuss.


Neil Miller

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Grab your comrades for a celebration of red beers in the Craft Beer Capital!

Malthouse, LBQ, Bebemos, Bin44 and Fork & Brewer are partaking in a collaborative, month-long celebration of beer launches dedicated to the wonderful world of red ales. 

Each Thurday, over five fabulous, rufescent-tinged weeks, will see each participating bar paired up with one of six breweries to drop an exclusive, brand new, crimson coloured brew.

Each bar won't know their exclusive release until launch day, and all participating bars will release the same beer the day after. If you think the original political thriller had you on the edge of your seat, it has nothing on these stealthy deployments.  

Be on the hunt for red beers from Fork Brewing, Golden Eagle, 8 Wired Brewing, Baylands Brewery, and a collaborative effort between Three Boys & the Beer Baroness.

See you there, comrades! 

LBQ - Thursday, 1 October
Bebemos - Thursday, 8 October
Fork & Brewer - Thursday, 15 October
Bin 44 - Thursday, 22 October
Malthouse - Thursday, 29 October

The inspirational title of this week's post is taken from a quotation by English writer Charles Caleb Colton. Mr Colton said that "times of great calamity and confusion have been productive for the greatest minds. The purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace. The brightest thunder-bolt is elicited from the darkest storm."

Do not feel ignorant - I had to look him up too. His official job description [1] was an "English cleric, writer and art collector" which promised so little. However, the reality of his life seems considerably more exciting. His Church career ended early, probably because he owed piles of money on a failed wine business. Colton did not seem to do much actual writing but what he did write proved hugely successful commercially.

The popularity of his work provided Colton with ample licence to pursue what are described by Professor Wikipedia as the "eccentricities" he was reportedly so "well known" for. [2] Those "eccentricities" included building a large private collection of valuable paintings, wine collecting, partridge-shooting and gambling. [3] The rest of the time he simply wasted. 

Colton's words of wisdom beat out two strong contenders for the honour of being in the title of a New Zealand beer blog. The Dalai Lama, rather predictably, played up the spiritual aspect of darkness with his advice "I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe." [4] A counterpoint is provided by Paul Newman, actor and director, professional racing driver and environmentalist. The man appears able to counterpoint himself. He developed what he called "Newman's second law: Just when things look darkest, they go black."

Malthouse will be going black on 19 and 20 June for the now annual Darkest Days Festival - a celebration of dusky, gloomy and crepuscular beers which continues until they all run out. There will be at least 23 shadowy libations available. Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Proprietor commanded me to write a bit about all of them. The simple and logical approach would have been to cover 11 beers last week and the remaining 12 beers this week.

The Malthouse Blog has been accused of many things over the years but simple and logical are not on the list of charges. After I got "Clarkson-level" distracted last week with the Director's Cut concept of sharing some dark beer wisdom from Nally, Bungard and Father O'Leary, I had only had room to cover four Darkest Days beer. After over half an hour on my abacus, I have deduced that this week's blog will have to cover the remaining 19 beers. Here are short previews for the rest of the beers that will be available on the Malthouse Darkest Day... err... Days:

Tuatara Portly Abbot 2014 (a big Belgian ale which has been barrel aged to help provoke spicy apricot, funky yeast and toasted nut notes) 

Tuatara Mojo Stout (the perfect Wellington winter beer is a combination of fine stout and Mojo coffee beans which can make you sleepy and wide awake at precisely the same time)

Tuatara Chocolate Stout (Wellington Chocolate Factory supplied the 100% organic Fair Trade cacao nibs and chocolate for a beer they demanded "needs to taste like real chocolate and have chocolate in it")

Tuatara Vanuatu Coffee Porter (brewed with last coffee shipped out of Tanna island in Vanuatu before Cyclone Pam hit. Mojo supplied the coffee and proceeds from this beer go to Mojo Coffee's Vanuatu - Cheers to the good sorts at Mojo)

Tuatara Toasted Malt Stout (heavily hopped over a mix of dark and roasted malts – including Roasted Barley and Dark Crystal Malt - this beer weighs in at 7% and 60 International Bitterness Units)

Baylands Glasgow Slasher 2013 (this is a strong, complex barley wine and not, as many speculate, Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish's Proprietor's previous profession and main reason he moved to New Zealand) [5]

Garage Project Baltic Porter (the favourite tipple of the Czars gets a surprisingly restrained Garage Project treatment, at 12%, with just the addition of smoked malt to this classic brew)

Garage Project Oyster & Horopito (we all knew Garage Project's relative restraint was never going to last long so into this dark beer they have thrown spicy native Horopito and salty, succulent oysters because... because they can)

Hallertau Liberty BDSM (Brewers Joseph Wood and Stephen Plowman find this name absolutely hilarious and, in quieter moments, you can hear them giggling in their northern brewery all the way from Malthouse. It officially stands for Bier das Schwarz Massive which translates as "the massive black beer." It is made with fresh hops.)

Hop Federation Barrel Aged Stout 2014 (brewed with six specialty malts and aged in barrels, this deep black beer has notes of Tiramisu, chocolate and coffee)

Hop Federation Barrel Aged Stout 2015 (also brewed with six specialty malts and aged in barrels, this deep black beer has notes of Tiramisu, chocolate and coffee but is a year younger)

ParrotDog/Two Birds Double Stout (three Matts from Wellington collaborated with Two Birds from Melbourne and the result of their "interesting" brewing day is a 9.2% Double Stout described as "big, black and deceivingly smooth")

Renaissance Tribute (This is almost certainly the 2012 vintage of Renaissance's annual barley wine which is brewed by hand using an Elizabethan "DoubleWort Mashing" mashing process, then spiced up by the addition of New Zealand hops)

Sparks Outlander Extra Stout (five dark malts form the base of a black and intensely roasty ale which has called to mind hints of liquorice and even a tot of rum)

Thornbridge Cocoa Wonderland (our chums at England's Thornbridge Brewery brewed a chocolate porter with proper chocolate to celebrate Cocoa Wonderland's 10th Anniversary. The aim was to produce a beer resembling a chocolate liqueur to tempt even the staunchest non-beer drinkers)

Thornbridge Wild Raven (the recipe for this Black IPA was developed by New Zealand's own James Kemp, 2008 National Home Brewing Champion and fine fellow all round. This patented "Kempicus Beer" is 6.6% ABV and a picture of balance)

Fork Brewing Murder of Crows (continuing brewer Kelly Ryan's run of Game of Thrones beer names, [6] this 9.8% imperial stout has been "twisted" with coffee and cinnamon. Spoiler alert: it is going to die soon)

Fork Brewing Brettanasaurus Hex (proving there is no pop culture phenomenon that he will not shamelessly name a beer after, Kelly Ryan goes all "Jurassic World", "stomp, stomp, roar and maim" with this beer. Asked to explain "what the heck is this", [7] he replied "this is what happens when brewers are left alone on cold dark autumnal mornings. Pretty much it's the Murder of Crows Imperial Stout wort fermented with 100% Brettanomyces bruxellensis. It's an aggressive yeast so has knocked out the coffee character almost completely and fermented the beer down so that it hit 11% ABV. It has subtle phenolic smokiness and nice yeast derived plumy characters. Drinks far too smooth that strength.")

mike's Double Vanilla Coffee Porter (brewed at mike's Organic Brewery, easily the top tourist attraction in Urenui, [8] this 10% double stout has been given a touch of big city class with the addition of vanilla and coffee)

Next time, we drink to Greig McGill. The unforgiveable misspelling of his name in the last post was not intended to cause offence and has been corrected. Calling him a "noted Labour voter" was intended to cause offence and will remain on the Internet forever and ever. Fortunately, he is currently making a number of stunning beers in which to drown any sorrows.

[1] In other words, Wikipedia.
[2] I need to apply this business model to my own writing immediately.
[3] Including a rare brief period of successful gambling before bankruptcy and death.
[4] I, for one, am happy to judge the universe on a daily basis. For example, Jurassic World is a surprisingly enjoyable film.
[5] For the record, Colin was a hairdresser and loves discussing this fact with people at any time.
[6] Kelly Ryan does begin to look a bit like Jon Snow after a number of 9.8% imperial stouts...
[7] A totally legitimate question asked by proper journalists all the time.
[8] Urenui Village Motto: "At least we are not Waitara."

Neil Miller
Beer Writer
Beer and Brewer Magazine
Cuisine Magazine
TheShout Magazine
New Zealand Liquor News Magazine

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