Beer with Sax Appeal
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 18:08

One of the many, many joys of being a professional beer writer is that talking to interesting people about my favourite topic (beer) over my favourite adult beverage (also beer) at my favourite watering hole (Malthouse) totally counts as work.   This week, I met Adam Page, described by serious music reviewer Simon Sweetman as “an Australian multi-instrumentalist who seems to have fallen in love with New Zealand this year.  He performed here as part of the Fringe Festival, winning Best Music and Best Solo Show.”

Increasingly, blogs are filling in the gaps left by the mainstream media and it took me almost three minutes of investigative journalism to get Adam to divulge just what he likes so much about New Zealand:  It’s the beer.  He describes the beer scene here as “amazing!  I just keep stumbling upon great new beers.”  We immediately stumbled over the rowdy Renaissance APA which had just appeared on tap.  It was magnificent so we immediately stumbled over it again.

Surrounded by a miasma of hop fumes and his trademark bushy beard (which he is going to grow out because “bigger beards are just cooler”), Adam lists his Kiwi beers of choice.  He loves Tuatara, Three Boys IPA (“oh hello, it’s nice!  Tuatara IPA sales go up when I’m in town”), Renaissance IIPA (“far out, it’s a classic”), Three Boys Oyster Stout (though he takes it personally that the seasons have changed which deprives him of this beer during his current visit) and Epic Armageddon (“unbelievable – like Luke backed up a cement truck full of hops and tipped them into my mouth”).

Pushed for his favourite beer in the world, Adam has no hesitation in naming Moo Brew Dark from Tasmania – an unexpected choice from a man who clearly loves the hop.  Adam lives “148 steps” from the Wheatsheaf Hotel in Adelaide which he believes was the “first bar on the mainland to get Moo Brew on tap.”  South Australian micro-breweries such as Brew Boys, Barossa Brewing and Bierhaus are also firm favourites.

Adam is not just sound on the beers he likes, he is also sound on the beers he doesn’t like.  Take for example his analysis of my beer nemesis, Ginger Tom from the otherwise perfect Dux de Lux: “I am not impressed – maybe with a double shot of vodka it would be fine.”  Well, quite frankly the same could be said of many liquids up to and including pond water and Doctor Pepper.

Beer is not just a hobby - it is even a feature in Adam’s performances.  In his award-winning solo show (“Solo”), he played and recorded a range of instruments on stage then looped them together to gradually build up a track.  One of his less conventional instruments was a bottle of Tuatara IPA.  He would blow over the mouth of the full bottle and record the note.  Then, he would take a swig, blow over the bottle again and record the now slightly different note.  This process would be repeated for some time.

He has been known to intersperse his songs with “spiels” about the importance of local bars, live music and craft beer.  However, do not under any circumstances get him started about the evils of pokie machines.  In fact, he first became aware of the Malthouse when he was passionately extolling the virtues of Tuatara beer during a Wellington show unaware that one of the Tuatara shareholders (of the Handsome and Scottish variety) was a highly entertained member of his sold-out audience.

When he gets back to Australia, Adam is doing a micro-brewery tour.  This will involve him playing gigs (see how effortlessly I have picked up the lingo) in small breweries with the brewer presenting their beers in between songs (as we call them in the business.)  The tour, Adam notes, is “also a great excuse to get free beers and t-shirts!  Seriously though, brewers are rock stars in my world.  They have put their heart and soul into it.”

His only New Zealand show will be at 7pm this Sunday (20 December) at Downstage (booking details below).  He will be playing as part of the Adelaide Sax Pack, described by Simon Sweetman as “a saxophone quartet - deconstructing, sending up, re-arranging cheesy songs” and by Adam as “great dudes, all big beer drinkers, on holiday.”  Appropriately, they will be performing in Tuatara Brewery t-shirts.  Say you read about the “Adelaide Sax Pack Does Christmas” gig on the Malthouse blog and you won’t receive any monetary discount but the person at the box office will undoubtedly be impressed at your coolness and exquisite taste.

Adam describes the Adelaide Sax Pack as “my favourite thing I’ve ever done.”  This is high praise indeed from a man who has performed literally thousands of gigs around the world. 

In the name of research, I watched a series of their clips on YouTube [warning: may severely harm your productivity] and seriously believe that if you can listen to ‘Killing in the Name of Frosty’, easily the best saxophone quartet re-interpreted medley of classic Christmas carols and Rage Against the Machine anthems I’ve ever heard, and not spend the rest of the day singing “Frosty, I won’t do what you tell me!” then you officially have no soul.  That is not a sentence that I write every day.

If you needed another reason to buy a ticket and attend, Downstage is ordering in Tuatara beers and, in any case, the Malthouse is only 248 steps away.  See you there.

Sadly, this is the final post of 2009.  It is amazing to think that the very first Malthouse blog appeared on 21 October 2008 and was titled “The Constant Pursuit of Hoppiness.”  This is the 52nd post.  Normal service will resume in mid-January.

Speaking of normal service, Malthouse will be CLOSED on 25, 26, 27 and 28 December 2009 and 1, 2, 3 and 4 January 2010.  On the other days, normal opening hours will apply except for New Year’s Eve when the doors open at 2pm. 

If you have the irresistible need to find out what the Handsome yet Quietly Spoken Scottish Proprietor is up to, he is on Twitter under @ malthouse.  Similarly, this humble beer scribe has joined as @ beerlytweeting.  Colin has 298 followers.  I have 45.  I note that the Impish Brewer Luke Nicholas has 3,902 while a Mr Phil Goff of Mount Roskill has 1,192.

Festive greetings and may all your New Year’s resolutions involve drinking better beers.

Cheers


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine

Links

Simon Sweetman’s Article - http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/blogs/blog-on-the-tracks/3156048/Attack-of-the-Sax-Pack
Adelaide Sax Pack - http://www.myspace.com/theadelaidesaxpack
Downstage Show - http://www.downstage.co.nz/index.php?page=shows&id=102
Killing In the Name of Frosty - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUxsGtNFJW8
Un Mondo du Sassophono (80s medley) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmr8bedaWYU
Wheatsheaf Hotel - http://www.wheatsheafhotel.com.au/ 
Malthouse Facebook Group - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wellington/Malthouse/7084276173
Real Beer – http://www.realbeer.co.nz/blog/blog.html
Beer and Brewer Magazine - http://www.beerandbrewer.com/