Tuesday, 14 January 2020 17:24

Ginhouse Returns 2020

2020 Vision

It’s a tradition here at Malthouse Blog Publishing Ltd. to start January with predictions for the coming year.

But this is a special occasion – we open a new decade, with the opportunity to make predictions for the next ten years. The responsibility weighs heavily upon my weary shoulders.

Prediction 1 – this year, just about every industry conference or business convention will make predictions for the next decade, and call itself 2020 Vision. Remember the Malthouse got in first.

Prediction 2 – Half of the people reading this will be millionaires in 2030 because the other half bought them houses. Today you live in a three-bedroom house, earn 10% of the house’s value each year, take 30 minutes to get to work, and feel poor. In 2030 you will live in the same house, earn 5% of its value each year, take 60 minutes to get to work, and feel rich.

Prediction 3 – THC/CBD will be The New IPA©. Remember where you heard it first. Or maybe write it down so you don’t forget it.

Prediction 4 – any predictions ten years out are highly likely to be way wrong. We are either totally over-ambitious (eg, flying cars by 2000), or totally miss tiny things that grow suddenly. Did anyone, anyone at all, show you a photo of a lone willow tree in Lake Wanaka in 2010? And if they did, did you drop everything so you could go there and take the exact same photo to show them back? No, of course you didn’t.

And Tik Tok?! Back in 2010, tick tock is what watches did. You young’uns have no idea. 50 miles to walk to school etc etc etc…

And on that scale of totally over-ambitious, to totally missed, let’s check out the Malthouse Blog predictions for the 2010s, as published in this very organ on 13 January 2010:

“Gazing into my crystal ball (well, actually it is a limited-edition Malthouse glass proposing ‘Cheers For 2010’ filled with Three Boys Golden Ale but the effect is quite similar), I foresee new levels of popularity for cider, wheat beers and pales ales (particularly those in the American style).  Let’s examine each prediction of popularity in turn:

“Cider – I really should have published this somewhere around October 2009 when I first began to realise that cider – proper cider, not the sugary nonsense so often served in New Zealand – was going to be big.  Now, with shelves everywhere groaning under a seemingly endless array of local and imported ciders and perries this prediction has rather lost its lustre.  However, it does mean that for the first time ever I am begin (sic) to contemplate planning a blog post all about cider.  Volunteers for a tasting panel should contact Colin, the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scotsman behind the bar.

“Wheat beers – I’m not sure why New Zealanders don’t drink more wheat beers over the summer.  At the tastings I regularly run around the region, wheat beers score consistently highly in the popular vote (particularly Tuatara Hefe and Croucher The Hef).  For many of the participants, this is their first taste of wheat beers and they like it.  Therefore, I confidently predict that more Kiwis will be thinking of hefes and wits as the perfect quenchers on a hot day.

“Pale Ales – In my opinion, the pale ale category is one of the most fiercely contested at both the New Zealand and Australian beer awards.  It is a far cry from the situation say seven years ago where the pale ale category was quite anaemic.  Pale Ales are on a high in this country with American hops very much in vogue and a number of US-inspired offerings.”

So how’d we do? I give us 1/3.

“New levels of popularity for cider”. No, not really. It’s still a minority interest, and the wide range of sour and fruit beers has captured that end of the flavour spectrum. I rate this prediction as Over-Ambitious.

“I confidently predict that more Kiwis will be thinking of hefes and wits as the perfect quenchers on a hot day”. I rate this prediction as Totally Over-Ambitious. In fact even including the word w**** on a label (let alone the beer’s name) is a commercial kiss-of-death. Do you drink beers with wheat in them? Yes, you do. Do you order wheat beers? No, you don’t.

“Pale Ales are on a high in this country with American hops very much in vogue”. More accurate then we could have ever imagined. And to be fair, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, because a big part of that popularity has been diligently generated by our very own Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge each year.

So what did we miss?

Sours (as celebrated each year in our very own Malthouse Sour Fest). Ten years ago producing a sour beer was left to bad home brewers.

Haze craze. Ten years ago producing a hazy beer was left to bad home brewers. No Malthouse festival…yet!

Gin is The New IPA©. Ten years ago gin was mothers’ ruin. Now it’s a popular way to experience the botanical and herbal flavours and aromas that big hoppy IPAs have made so popular.

And on that bombshell – join us for Ginhouse Returns, Friday 17 January from 4pm. We will be showcasing three New Zealand award-winning distilleries: Hidden World Gin; Denzien Urban Distillery; and The National Distillery Company. Live acoustic music from 6pm with Simon from The Relatives.

Expect gin matches, gin on tap, frozen gin cocktails and New Zealand's first Hemp Gin – remember where you heard it first. Or maybe write it down so you don’t forget it.


Malthouse events

Friday 17 Jan – Ginhouse Returns with Hidden World Gin; Denzien Urban Distillery; and The National Distillery Company

Friday 24 Jan – Burn’s Night and McLeod’s Tap Takeover. McLeod's Brewery will be in the ‘house as we celebrate Scotland's very own Robert Burns. There will be whisky and beer matches, delicious Scottish food and merch giveaways. Tap lineup and whisky matches coming soon.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019 17:15

Malthouse’s Epic Birthday Party Friday 13th

You know that one friend who always misses your birthday?

He’ll post on your Facebook page: “Hoppy bthdy Mate 4 ystaday!!! Hope it a good1!!!”

And he’ll do that four days after your birthday. Every year.

Missing a friend’s birthday is embarrassing, and so it should be. So it’s perhaps a bit ironic that the most famous birthday in the history of the world is missed every year.

I’m talking of course about the Little Baby Jesus. We’ll be celebrating his happy 2019th birthday* this month, but it’s pretty certain that he was not born on December 25th, and we are also out by several years.

For many centuries no one cared because Christmas was not the most important date in the church calendar. For the first few centuries, the Christian church didn’t really celebate it, and it was around 400AD when theologian Augustine of Hippo calculated Jesus’ birth date was December 25th.

This was extremely convenient, because this very date was Saturnalia, a big Roman orgy party that celebrated the passing of the winter solstice. This handy calculation made is simple to convert Romans to the Christian church – they could contribute their earnings and didn’t have to give up their traditional orgy party.

These pagan origins, and remnant Saturnalian habits, lead some church leaders to ban Christmas celebrations altogether. Oliver Cromwell banned it, and dancing, and having a full head of hair, and generally made himself so unpopular that he was dug up after he died just so he could be beheaded. So was his horse. Quote this blog in a history assignment at your peril.

Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843, beginning the modern celebration of Christmas as the most important date in the church (and social) calendar. Queen Victoria’s German husband Prince Albert was a fan, and much of the Christmas imagery – trees, snow, sleighs etc etc etc – has been adopted from German traditions untroubled by Oliver F. Cromwell.

So that is why we celebrate Little Baby Jesus’ birthday on 25 December even though there is about a 1/365 chance that it’s correct. The one thing we do know with any certainty is that we have the year wrong entirely, and L. B. Jesus was actually born sometime around 5BC, which must have confused him no end as a kid.

But that’s just the Western European churches. Other Christian denominations celebrate Christmas on various dates in January – not because it’s more accurate, but due to different calendars.

So I guess the takeaway is that it’s the thought that counts and if you don’t celebrate a birthday on the actual birthday then there is pretty strong precedent for it.

Which brings us obviously and directly to the combined Malthouse and Epic birthday this Friday 13th. Our mighty Malthouse is celebrating its 26th birthday, and Epic is celebrating its 14th. The celebration will include cake, presents (for you, don’t mention it), a tap takeover with a wonderful range of Epic beers, two Hidden World gins on tap, and (drum roll please…) a full-size Christmas tree made from authentic, glow-in-the-dark Hop Zombie bottles for a confused but spooky Friday 13th/Birthday/Christmas ambiance.

Happy birthdays Malthouse, Epic, and Little Baby Jesus!

Here’s the Epic taplist:

Birthday Ultra Pale Ale – New Release!

IPA on a Stick – 2019 West Coat IPA Challenge winner




Blue low carb


Hop Zombie

Coffee & Fig 2018

Craze Hazy double IPA

Galactic Criminal

Gin Boss


Tank Sample


Saturn V


Rebel Yell

Lightning Pilsner

And two gins on tap:

Pink Gin & Tonic

Gin & Juice

Malthouse Events

Friday 13 December – An Epic Xmas and Birthday Celebration. Join us for a joint Christmas & Birthday party with Epic taking over the taps! Birthday cake and heaps of merch to giveaway.

*Or 2020th or 2018th. I’m not sure if there was a Year Zero before his first birthday, so did he turn 1 at the beginning of 2AD? It’s too complicated for a Sunday morning.

Saturday, 30 November 2019 17:36

Fortune Favours the Bold

Fortune Favours the Bold

The Duke of Wellington was an extraordinary man.

He had two extremely successful careers – the first in the military, the second in politics – and he invented the gumboot.

He received six – count them, six! – knighthoods, and not one of them was for the gumboot, which is surely worth a knighthood in its own right.

Arthur Wellesley was born in 1769 in Dublin, as the son of Anglo-Irish aristocracy. He was a military hot shot, commanding British forces against the Dutch, India, the Maratha Empire, Denmark, and, most famously, Napoleon’s French army.

His final and most significant victory was the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. This was the end of Napoleon’s two decade campaign to spread revolution throughout Europe. The defeat allowed the return of monarchy and aristocracy across the continent, and deferred the widespread and practical application of the metric system for another 150 years.

Arthur, by now the Duke of Wellington, then kicked off his political career, and in 1828 he resigned as the army’s Commander in Chief so that he could become Prime Minister. Arthur clearly didn’t muck around in middle management roles.

As Prime Minister he gave the vote to Catholics and tried, but failed, to take the vote away from British Jews. He also engaged other politicians in duels. After his term as Prime Minister ended he became the Leader of the House of Lords, continued as Commander in Chief, and finally ended his military career after about 50 years in uniform.

Our wonderful little harbour city is named after the Duke of Wellington – it was originally called Britannia, but Wellesley was still a popular figure in 1840 when the colony moved from Petone beach to Lambton Harbour, and the new town was called Wellington.

Wellington has grown to become a thriving craft beer capital with steep streets, cliff-face houses, fresh breezes, and an all-round bold attitude to climate and geography. Just living in this environment makes you bold. It’s entirely fitting, because The Duke of Wellington’s personal motto was ‘Virtutis Fortuna Comes’ – “Fortune Favours the Bold”.

Which leads us obviously and directly to the Fortune Favours tap takeover at the Malthouse this Thursday 5 December.

Fortune Favours is a neat little brewpub on Leeds Street, just around the corner from the Malthouse, and this week it’s bringing eight beers along to the ‘house, including its popular and bold Wellingtonian NZIPA. Malthouse/Fortune Favours collaboration brew Session Impossible will also be launched on the night.

And while Fortune Favours takes over the taps, Soul Shack Hot Chicken takes over the Malthouse kitchen. Look out for merch giveaways and prizes on the night.

Here’s the Fortune Favours tap list:

Session Impossible collaboration brew

Fejoa Gose 

Decadent Vanilla Coffee Porter

Raspberry Gose

Aviator APA

Fever Pitch Lager

Behemoth/Fortune Favours collaboration hazy

Wellingtonian NZIPA

Malthouse Events

Thursday 5 December – Malthouse Hot Luck. Soul Shack Hot Chicken kitchen takeover and Fortune Favours collab!

Friday, 22 November 2019 16:42

Give me Liberty or give me ping pong!

The game of table tennis has a long and noble history.

It began, as ‘ping pong’, as an after-dinner entertainment for upper-class Brits.

And while most of us know it as a wet-weather school-holiday diversion in the garage, it is also a highly-competitive professional sport that played a small but influential role in easing Cold War tensions.

It’s 1971. The Vietnam War is at its height, with the communist North Vietnamese slowly but surely wresting control from the vastly more powerful forces of the United States. The war was becoming increasingly politically unsustainable in the States, as it was becoming apparent that bigger, faster and more expensive technology could not win a low-down dirty war of attrition.

North Vietnam was supported to an extent by neighbouring mainland China. It was a complex relationship. Both were communist countries (and remain so today), and China had been directly at war with the US in Korea during the 1950s. But China and Vietnam were also traditional rivals.

The United States had supported non-Communist Taiwan since 1949, when the Communists under Chairman Mao seized power in the mainland. There was very little diplomatic contact between the US and mainland China, and ordinary citizens were simply banned from any contact, business connection or tourism.

Meanwhile, at the 31st World Table Tennis Championships in Nagoya, Japan, Glenn Cowan missed his team bus.

Cowan was the kinda-hippy lead player in the US team, and the last bus leaving the training hall was the Chinese team bus. Cowan cadged a seat on the bus and was treated with suspicion by the Chinese team, except for Zhuang Zedong, a three-time world champion. Zhuang and Cowan struck up a halting conversation through a translator, and Zhuang presented Cowan with a gift as a memento of the unusual meeting. Cowan later reciprocated with a t-shirt bearing a peace symbol and the words ‘Let it Be’. Groovy!

After the Championships (China’s mens’ team, including Zhuang, wins Gold), and in the spirit of ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could all just get along!’, Cowan expressed an interest in visiting China, and, unexpectedly, Chairman Mao said “Come on over, I’ll put the jug on”. (Quote this blog in a history assignment at your own risk).

So in April 1971 nine American players, four officials, and two spouses stepped across a bridge from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland and spent a week playing friendly matches, touring the Great Wall and Summer Palace, and watching a ballet.

In the States President Nixon couldn’t stand to lose face and invited the Chinese table tennis team to visit the United States. Both visits were highly-publicised political events. Other people figured out that if it was good enough for table tennisists, it was good enough for them too, and insisted on the right to make similar visits. The diplomatic embargo ended, trade relations started and the rest is history.

Which leads us obviously and directly to Liberty Goes Large, next Friday 29 November at the Malthouse.

For, just as table tennis is a highly-competitive game with surprisingly deep roots, Liberty Brewing Co. is a highly-competitive brewery with hidden talents.

It took Zhuang Zedong several years to win four gold medals, but Liberty collected five golds in just one night at the Brewers Guild Beer Awards last month. Two were in highly-competitive beer categories – NZ-style lager went to Halo pilsner, and Yakima Monster won International Pale Ale. Liberty also collected top spot in Packaging, in Champion Medium Brewery, and in Champion Exhibitor (ie, best average score).

Next Friday will see ebullient Liberty Brewer (and secret Haiku writer) Joe Wood bring the trophies to the Malthouse for a well-deserved celebration in the Craft Beer Capital. Joe will bring merch to give away and host a tap takeover with 11 Liberty beers and one cider. There will be a hot wing challenge. And there will be, in the confined confines of the ‘house, a table tennis tournament.

History might be made.

Here’s the taplist:

Yakima Monster APA (Guild Trophy winner)

Halo pilsner (Guild Trophy winner)

Oh Brother pale ale

Highbeam XPA

Knife Party WCIPA

C!tra Double IPA

Darkest Days oatmeal stout

Jungle Juice unfiltered WCIPA

Uprising West Auckland pale ale

Divine Wind Japanese rice lager

Knife Pilsner (seasonal)

Big Apple cider

Malthouse Events

Friday 29 November – Liberty Brewing Goes Large. Meet brewer Joe Wood for hot wings, table tennis, merch give ways and a tap takeover.

Thursday 5 December – Malthouse Hot Luck. Soul Shack chicken in the ‘house. Launching Malthouse/Fortune Favours collab brew Session Impossible. Merch giveaways.


Friday, 25 October 2019 16:17

Boo! It’s Halloween

We have a funny old relationship with Halloween here in New Zealand.

It’s often seen as a commercial event, and Americanism forced down our throats and not a part of Kiwi culture.

But it is much more than that – it is a very old, pre-Christian celebration, and it is certainly not American.

Before it was sponsored by The Warehouse, Halloween was celebrated as the Christian festival of All Saints Day. This was a day to remember everyone who and died and gone to Heaven, and since you were a good person who hoped to go to Heaven yourself when the appointed hour arose, it was broadly a day to remember your dead ancestors.

Churches would hold a vigil service on the night of All Saints Day, and after the service the congregation would go out to the adjoining cemetery and tidy up their relatives’ graves, and generally honour the dead.

All Saints Day, was also known as All Hallowed Day, and the evening service was Hallows’ Eve, or Halloween.

But the tradition runs much deeper than this. Early Christians were flexible enough to adapt already popular religious events to fit into the Christian calendar, making it much easier to recruit followers. The most obvious example is Christmas. Just a week or so after the longest (northern Hemisphere) night, the astute would have noticed that the nights were starting to get shorter, signifying that the winter was starting to turn and warmer days would return.

Halloween is an adoption of a harvest festival – by mid Autumn the crops were in and stored, and it was time to prepare for the long dark nights of winter.

It’s almost impossible to imagine, from 21st Century New Zealand, just how long, how dark, how cold, and just how threatening a pre-industrial Northern European winter would have been. In some latitudes is was dark for almost 18 hours every night, with no street lighting and no Kathmandu down jackets. The winter nights were something to fear, both for known dangers like hypothermia, thieves, wolves and Mongol hoards, and the unknown dangers that long dark nights can build in the mind, like spooky ghosty things.

So a good party in the graveyard before winter set in was something to be enjoyed.

Halloween then is a true traditional festival, built into nature’s calendar and celebrated around the world. It is a time to remember and look after our ancestors, and to celebrate and be thankful for another completed harvest. Calling it a commercialised Americanism is only party true, and doesn’t do justice to this ancient festival.

Which leads us obviously and directly to the Malthouses’s Lagunitas Halloween Tap Takeover & Party on Thursday 31 October.

This will feature 16 Lagunitas beer on tap, with six being poured in New Zealand for the first time:

-Dog town pale ale

-Imperial Stout

-Giniper Tom's Town Barrel Aged sour ale

-Dark Swan Sour

-Erotica sour

-Unfiltered Coffee stout

There will be live music from 7pm, burgers and hot dogs on the menu, and prizes for the best Halloween costume.

Just remember, it’s an ancient tradition you’ll be celebrating!



Friday, 06 September 2019 11:48

Say it loud! I’m Ginge and I’m proud!!

“The biggest mistake the Scots made was pausing in Ireland for 400 years on their way to America”.

That’s what my  Great-uncle Dunn told me when I was two years old, and I’ve never forgotten.

Dunn and the McLoughlins who make up my mother’s side of the family were proud Orangemen, Scottish Protestants who settled in Ireland from the early 1600s. Dunn himself was a US citizen, being born in the middle of the Atlantic on an American-registered steamer.

The McLoughlins were emigrating from New York, where my grandmother had been born, to Northern Ireland where they had inherited a farm. While most of Ireland was busy immigrating TO New York, it wasn’t entirely one way traffic.

Uncle Dunn grew up in Northern Ireland but used his US citizenship as soon as he possibly could, and he lived a long and prosperous life in Florida. So his assessment of the Scot’s Ulster adventure was as much personal as historic.

My father’s family, the Craigs, are also from Northern Ireland. They had been there for hundreds of years, Catholic, and were not entirely chuffed that the McLoughlins and their ilk had come to claim a slice of their Ulster paradise. Family events were interesting, especially the Queen’s Speech every Christmas.

But I digress. My point, and I do have one, is to establish my Celtic whakapapa. This is relevant because the Malthouse is about to celebrate Celticity, and more specifically, the celebrated Celtic Gingerness.

It is estimated that only 2% of the global population has red hair. The earliest evidence of red hair known to science is found in Central Asia. The Tocharian mummies are well-preserved ancient burials, with red hair and dressed in tartan blankets.

It is believed that this ancient red haired people travelled west from the steppes. Travelling as far west as they could go on their shaggy little ponies, they settled in Scotland, Ireland and in North-West Spain, and in all cases they kept the tartan and a liking for playing the pipes.

The call of the flame-red sunset coursed strong through their stout veins, and red haired people were among the first to cross the Atlantic to America. Christopher Columbus was a redhead, but Irish St Brendan may have discovered North America before him. And of course Viking Eric the Red had already established a colony on Newfoundland. (Quote this blog in your history assignment at your own risk.)

Which leads us obviously and directly to Gingers Attack – A Yeastie Boys and Urbanaut Event, at Malthouse, Friday 13 September.

Card-carrying redhead brewers Bruce Turner (Urbanaut) and Sir Stuart McKinlay (Yeastie Boys) will be in the ‘house, taking over multiple taps and launching a couple of fresh new beers each.

Sir Stuart, Laird of the Red Trews and Tresses, is late of this bailiwick but has been living in England where he successfully established a branch office. It’s always a special occasion when one of the prodigal Yeastie Boys returns to the land of their birth, and that special occasion happens on Friday the 13th, at the Malthouse, at 6.08pm (ie, the hour of the flame-red sunset).

And do not despair. Although the event is called Gingers Attack, it is inclusive and the ginge-challenged will mocked just slightly. To make you feel more at home, ginge-tinged beards and wigs will be available. Dress as your favourite ginge-tinged celebrity to win a prize and the Queen/King of the Gingers crown – know anyone who looks like that Ed Sheeran/Rupert Grint chap?

And on the remote possibility that you have persevered this far in the hope of reading something about beer, here’s the taplist:

Yeastie Boys

Melon Balls – New Release – Dortmunder Melon Lager

Trial By Fire – New Release – might even have a fiery ginger theme…

Gunnamatta – Earl Grey Pale Ale

Pot Kettle Black – the OG South Pacific Porter

White Noise – tinnitus-infused White Ale



El Segundo – West Coast IPA

Miami Brut – Fresh Batch – Brut Lager

Montrose Hop Oil

The Mission - APA

Copacabana – Fresh Batch – Brut IPA



Martin Craig

Malthouse events

Friday 13 September – Gingers Attack – A Yeastie Boys and Urbanaut Event

Friday 20 September – NZ/UK brewers collaborations – the fruits of the Road to Beervana collaborations from Tiny Rebel, Thornbridge and Fierce Beer. PLUS Rugby Wold Cup™ live on screen.

Thursday October 3rd - Triple Co-lab event with Epic (Auckland), Brew Union (Palmerston North) and Beer Baroness (Christchurch).

Thursday October 31st - A full tap takeover.... but by whom..

Friday November 29th - A very very big event (Details coming soon)

Friday December 13th - Epic Christmas Party

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