Wednesday, 18 October 2017 09:47

It’s a new release frenzy with JuiceHead and Whistling Sisters, followed by a Glasgow Slasher

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While craft beer drinkers tend to have their favourites – beers which never let them down - most are also intensely interested in new beers and new breweries. During this exceptionally busy week Malthouse is hosting multiple beer launches from two new breweries as well as a beer relaunch.

From today, Wednesday 18 October 2017, Malty will be pouring two new pale ales from JuiceHead Beer Company. While you may think that you have never heard of this brewery, if you have ordered a beer at Malthouse in the last three years then chances are you have probably actually met most of the JuiceHead crew.

Officially launched in March 2017, JuiceHead is Emma Brown, Sam Graham, Calum Wallace and the erstwhile Malthouse Unit Manager Ciaran Duffy. Between them they have well over 15 years of bar work experience, including extended stints at Fork & Brewer and Malthouse. They are contract brewers.

While JuiceHead Beer Company is new, the idea has been “brewing” (pun fully intended) for some time. In March 2015 I interviewed Ciaran for the first Staff Profiles in Courage blog. His interview lasted nearly fifty minutes. For subsequent profiles, the average duration was around twenty minutes, with Macca setting the record quickest time at just under eight minutes. [1]

The point here is that Ciaran is very good at talking and very fun to listen to. One of the topics he mentioned way back then that did not make it into the final blog post was that he and some of his bar chums were working on home brews and developing a plan to go commercial in the future. I guess I kind of missed a scoop there, [2] but I simply had to include the revelation (to me at least) that Ciaran studied music therapy at university. I had literally no idea about that one...

Martin Craig over at the Beertown website has some more “juicy” details starting with nationalities. “Emma and Sam are English, Calum is English from Scottish descent and Ciaran is Irish.” To me, it is a bit like the British and Irish Lions except the Welsh are missing and the Scots are over-represented. He continues:

“The four have just started producing their own beers under the JuiceHead Beer Company label, and have been successful in selling to Wellington venues. While the JuiceHeads don’t own a brewery, they brew the beer themselves at DIY brewing establishment Occasional Brewer, and have brewed a 2000L batch using Baylands’ plant.”

“Ciaran says their bar experience teaches them what customers are looking for... “We know what’s selling,” Sam says, “because we’re the ones changing the kegs”. JuiceHead is using Occasional Brewer to brew 30L batches and test the market. “If it’s great we’ll sell it and if it’s not we’ll drink it ourselves,” says Ciaran.” You know what – I really do believe him on that last point.

Wednesday 18 October 2017 is the official launch of the new JuiceHead Beer Company Detonator Pale Ale (5%) and JuiceHead Generator Pale Ale (5%). Both are hoppy and exceptionally drinkable. Drinkers will have an added responsibility however. Whichever one sells out first will be added to JuiceHead core range of beers. It is democracy in action people! To help make an informed decision the JuiceHead team will be in the bar to answer questions and generally have a bit of a yarn over a pint or two.

This blog wishes the JuiceHead Beer Company all the very best in this exciting new endeavour. My vote in absentia – because ironically I will be busy running a charity beer tasting tonight – goes to whichever is the hoppier one. [3]

Speaking of exciting new endeavours, Whistling Sisters Brewery is launching at Malthouse on Thursday 19 October 2017. Brewer Dale Gould will be there to guide people through the brand new Whistling Sisters XPA, Whistling Sisters Red Pilsner and Whistling Sisters Golden Ale. Malthouse almost did not receive the new beers. Dale Gould admitted in an emotional Facebook post that it was hard to see “his babies go out into the world” and that he shed “a single tear.” The key point though is that while he may have cried the babies did go out, made the (literally) five minute journey to Malty and will be on tap tomorrow.

Whistling Sisters Brewery is located on the corner of Ghuznee and Taranaki Streets in what used to be the Salvation Army building. While the very shiny 1,200 litre brewery is now operational, the attached bar and restaurant facilities will not be finished until early 2018. The Whistling Sisters beer will be heading out to mainly local pubs initially. Malthouse is pleased to be one of the very first to pour beer from Wellington’s newest craft brewery.

Co-founder Russel Scott is a legendary figure in the Wellington hospitality scene. He and his family have been involved in a number of successful establishments for decades. I certainly have enjoyed a number of them over many years. Clearly one of the most commonly asked questions is going to be about the unusual name “Whistling Sisters”. Their Facebook page clearly anticipated this situation and provided this rather poignant answer:

“Wondering where the name Whistling Sisters came from? Well Whistling Sisters is more than a family business. The Scott Family’s motivation for Whistling Sisters comes from Karen Louisa, their beautiful daughter and sister who they lost to breast cancer in 2015. Losing Karen made them realise how important it is to make a difference in this life so they set up The Karen Louisa Foundation to honour her memory and fund research into secondary (advanced) breast cancer. Whistling Sisters is a way to help that Foundation keep going and to give back. The naming of the brewery - Whistling Sisters - remembers our sister and her remarkable spirit, to celebrate that same spirit in brothers and sisters everywhere and to always remember the Scott’s motto - Life is too short to eat or drink anything mediocre.”

A link to the foundation is included at the bottom of this post.

Finally, on Friday 20 October 2017 Malthouse will host the re-release of the famous Baylands Brewery Glasgow Slasher (12.0%). Unit Manager Ciaran insists “no more words needed” which is:


1)    Ironic given the story above about the epic length of his interview.

2)    Not really how beer writing works.


So, a little background is in order. This massive American Barleywine is a very limited release. It was first brewed with the “help” of Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Malthouse Proprietor to celebrate 21 years of the Malthouse. It proved so popular it just keeps coming back despite the rather terrifying cartoon of Col on the tap badge. [4]

The actual brewer notes it features 21 malts and a ridiculous volume of US hops. Drinkers have described the beer as being smooth and surprisingly “normal” given the strength, there is a complex and layered malt superstructure to enjoy, and the fruity hops are noticeable plus prevent the beer from becoming cloying.


Next time, we drink to modern journalism which yesterday saw a casual tweet of mine about how busy the New Zealand First Board must be picked up and used in a serious political story in the Guardian. The freaking Guardian no less. Sounds implausible but the link is below.


[1] I think I did most of the talking too.

[2] Fortunately I am not a real journalist.

[3] I have placed more thought into this vote than many local voters.

[4] Even though the beer is called the Slasher, cartoon Colin is actually threatening potential drinkers with a grater.




Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine

DrinksBiz Magazine




Malthouse New Release Week Facebook event -

Juicehead Beer Company -

Beertown article on JuiceHead -

Whistling Sisters -

The Karen Louisa Foundation -

Baylands Glasgow Slasher -

Guardian article about the New Zealand election - Malthouse Facebook -

Malthouse Twitter –!/malthouse

Malthouse Taps on Twitter –!/MalthouseTaps

Neil Miller on Twitter –!/beerlytweeting

Last modified on Wednesday, 18 October 2017 09:56