Tuesday, 06 March 2018 10:52

Emerson’s turns silver into gold – The Silver Project

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While a surprising number of New Zealanders took at least a passing interest in the Winter Olympics in Peon... Peony... Chang... the Winter Olympics in South Korea, it did not make much of an impact in my household.

 My expert analysis indicates that there were four reasons people watched the event:


1)    It was the only thing on the telly at the pub so the other options were to actually talk to people or go home.

2)    New Zealanders won some medals.

3)    They were secretly hoping for huge crashes.

4)    They were secretly hoping for wardrobe malfunctions.


Now, my expert analysis consisted of looking around the pub a couple of times, plus my flawless intuition and perfect understanding of human nature. However, Kiwi athletes won two bronze medals, beating our previous best of one medal and our usual result of none whatsoever.

This may seem paltry to Olympic powerhouses such as Norway, Germany and Canada, but it put us in 26th place on the medal tally. This is the tally which we have only appeared in once before... in the 1990s.  Admittedly we were still behind Australia (annoying) and Belgium (baffling), but ahead of the plucky competitors from Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein and Albania. [1]

The one Winter Olympics video I watched repeatedly was the a short c lip where the downhill skiers are getting shot and knocked over by the mighty AT-ATs from Star Wars. It is really good, there are numerous crashes and, most importantly, there are AT-ATs. Sadly, there are no wardrobe malfunctions and, even more sadly, there are persistent rumours it has been doctored and is not a documentary as I immediately assumed.

This month the Silver Treatment goes to Emerson’s Brewing Company from Dunedin (City Motto: Following in the steps of our Forefathers). That might need some updating to drag it into at least the 20th Century

Now, if you do not know of Emerson’s then I can simply wish you well in your life under that craft beer rock. Emerson’s is one of the nation’s longest running and most beloved breweries in the land. It certainly is in this office. Two of the many reasons are founder and mad scientist Richard Emerson, and brewery manager Chris O’Leary.

Richard is known as “the Chuck Norris of Kiwi craft” due to his uncanny resemblance to said action superstar, and his ability to roundhouse kick alcohol into or out of brewing vessels. [2] Chris is called “Father O’Leary” for his ability to hear barroom confessionals, and remember them for the rest of your natural life. Both darn fine blokes.

Emerson’s is the March feature in the “Silver Project” series. To celebrate 25 years in business, Colin the Handsome Yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor, who has worked at Malty for a staggering 14 years, claims the idea came to him in a dream after eating deep fried haggis on a stick – one beer launch a month from a featured brewery... for an entire year. He has even organised them all already – a feat similar to splitting the atom with a Rick Astley album for a person like me who has not finished successfully planning for tomorrow.

I have dubbed the next one “Silver Project – The Emerson’s Episode.” That title has no legal or moral authority. The event will occur at Malthouse this Saturday 10 March and has been described by an Irish Unit Manager who asked to remain nameless as “a good old fashioned beer launch.”

The beer being launched is a collaboration between Emerson’s and Fork Brewing. Now that would have been a fun brewing session to witness. Emerson’s/Fork Florapalooza is a 7.2% all flower hopped New Zealand IPA (NZIPA) with a judicious [3] use of Kiwi Fuggles, Kohatu, Rakau and Sauvin hops.

Fork Brewing brewer Kelly Ryan, also known as #brewjesus or Frodo, said it was an “ode to Thornbridge Halcyon in a way.” This is high praise indeed as Thornbridge is hugely regarded for its pale ales – and Kel should know because he used to work there. He describes the brew as “refined, floral, fruity, subtle, and dangerously drinkable.” Kelly then expanded “etc etc” before diving head first into a brewing kettle to give it a good clean.


Also on tap at “Silver Project – The Emerson’s Experience” are:


Emerson’s Bird Dog IPA (6.5%) – I must declare that this is the Emerson’s beer I have drunk the most of in the last six months. It is not even close. One of the unambiguous benefits of Lion’s acquisition of Emerson’s is increased distribution. Bars which never used to have nice beers now suddenly have Emerson’s and Panhead. This IPA is proudly made with just one hop variety – NZ Cascade. It is fruity, firmly bitter and easy drinking.

Emerson’s Johnny Got Knotted Hoppy lager – I am not privy to the imaginative naming of this beer and the internet is stubbornly silent on the issue. Traditionally, Emerson’s has named several beers after local regulars. One can speculate how this moniker came into being – “Who is Johnny?” and is “Getting Knotted” a good thing or a bad thing? Fortunately, the pub is the perfect place for intense speculation on topics you know nothing about. [4]

Emerson’s Hazed and Confused East Coast IPA (6.5%) – So, East Coast IPA went from being a bit of freak show to a new staple of the craft beer scene in less than two years. Generally considered a variation on the far better known West Coast IPA style, East Coast beers are still hoppy but are also heavily cloudy. This can bring in new flavours and certainly a different mouthfeel. Hazed and Confused has notes of grapefruit and grass.

Emerson’s Pilsner (4.9%) – Now this is the Emerson’s beer I have drunk the most of over all the years. It was hugely important to the development of my craft beer appreciation. It is a simple, clean and well made beer highlighted by a lovely balance. This pilsner still retains a place in my heart. At the Emerson’s brewery launch, while other guests were sipping whisky barrel aged imperial stouts and civet coffee infused porters, I was enjoying a couple of pints of pilsner. I even got a nod of approval from the oldest bar tender for my choice. [5]

Emerson’s Lager Lager Lager - I do have the story behind this one and it is a fine one. As many will know, Richard is deaf. Although he is a brilliant lip reader, people sometimes have to repeat themselves to be totally clear. This is particularly important when brewing with hot liquids, and in my case, trying to tell him an awesome joke. The beer’s name plays on this phenomenon.

Finally, there will be Emerson’s XPA and Emerson’s Kolsch on tap at the “Silver Project – The Emerson’s Ecosystem” event on Saturday 10 March.

In terms of the title, Honestly, I simply ran out of decent quotations about “silver”. I really did think there would be many more. So, instead, I just made this one up


Next time we drink to the start of Jacinda Ardern versus Simon Bridges. The prize is being the Prime Minister of New Zealand (potentially). This should certainly be interesting... [6]


[1] Does Albania even have any snow?

[2] Well, he is in this office. The vote was unanimous.

[3] Read: Generous.

[4] Well, that is my experience anyway...

[5] That’s pretty much the biggest praise you can get in Dunedin bars.

[6] In politics, you never want something to be described as “interesting”. That is just one step below the dreaded “untidy”.




Neil Miller

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