Challenge over: Mayhem and the Apocalypse loom
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 12:19

Last Friday witnessed the beginning of a new annual tradition. The First Malthouse Old World IPA Challenge witnessed seven New Zealand craft beers compete to be crowned the inaugural best “traditional, proper, English-style India Pale Ale in the colony.”  

Those beers, listed in the order they were judged, were Twisted Hop Goggles IPA, Liberty - Southstar Sceptred Warrior, Townshend Donelan IPA, Epic Message in a Bottle, Good George IPA, Moa Five Hop Special and Garage Project Caledonia Uber Alles. Making up the best judging panel that free beer could buy was the ever-stylish veteran beer writer Neil McInnes, noted brewer/designer/beard wearer Ryan McArthur [1] and me, the perpetually scruffy journeyman beer writer Neil Miller

Here are the results:

Third place went to a brew we affectionately knew as “Beer Number 6” until after the results were tallied. It turned out to be Moa Five Hop Special which the judges considered “nicely balanced and very well brewed.” We particularly liked the “pleasant intriguing burnt honey nose” and “notes of marmalade throughout the beer.”

The silver medal went to Garage Project for their Caledonia Uber Alles IPA. The judges felt it was “very true to style”, “high alcohol but easy drinking” and carried “authentic IPA flavours well” along a strong malt backbone. We were intrigued by the soft hop nose which had a hint of sweet fruit which, after a long and ill-informed discussion, we decided was like the “skin of a berry”.  By a happy coincidence, Caledonia Uber Alles is this week’s Firkin Friday offering so a cask will be tapped on the stroke of noon, Friday 16 November 2012.  

First place went to Liberty-Southstar Sceptred Warrior which was hailed as “a big British IPA” with a nose reminiscent of “tangerines on steroids.” [2] Notes of “proper English marmalade” were enjoyed, as was the “bitter, astringent, cleansing finish.” While the Sceptred Warrior [3] was “clearly strong”, it was also “hugely drinkable.”

In fact, the judging panel considered the winner so ye old world and old school that we felt it would be most appropriate to “drink it from earthenware jugs.” We immediately demanded said earthenware jugs from Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish Steward, but he just looked bewildered because he had not heard any of the conversation and had no context for our outrageous request. [4]

I have taken the liberty [5] of handing out some additional non-sanctioned awards that my fellow judges and the Malthouse hierarchy were unaware of until they began reading this sentence. They should not be held accountable for this next section of Neil’s Totally Unofficial Old World IPA Challenge awards:

Most unnecessary swipe at the town of my birth: Before the judging even began, Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish Steward plonked a plate of sliced plain white bread on the judge’s table and declared it to be a “Broxburn Sandwich Platter.” [6]

Least surprising revelation on the list of entries: Liberty Brewing Company was doing a collaboration brew. 

Best non-Challenge observation by a judge: “Until Emerson’s Bookbinder becomes Lion Bookkeeper, I’ll keep drinking it.” – Ryan McArthur

Most creative beer name: Garage Project Caledonia Uber Alles for the strange Celtic nationalism and casual mockery of the Germans. It is actually a song title from the Dead Kennedy’s.   

Best sideburns in the building: Neil McInnes – no question.

Worst observation by a judge: “The nose is more Essex girl than Paddington Bear.” – Neil Miller

Least creative beer name: Good George IPA for listing the brewery name and the style. It makes the famously lazy beer brand “Reeb” (beer spelled backwards) look as creative and cutting edge as Saatchi and Saatchi during the cocaine years.

Strangest beer paradox: Epic Message in a Bottle being served on tap.   

In non-challenge news, Sunday night should be a big one at Malthouse with many of the Kiwicon participants heading in. Kiwicon is New Zealand’s Hacker Convention and this year includes new events called Ladycon and Noobycon. I was in the bar when they descended last year and it is a great crowd. 

Speaking of mayhem, [7] Epic Mayhem makes its much anticipated return to the Malthouse taps next week. The exact date and time will be announced on the dedicated Twitter feed helpfully called @malthousetaps. The link is below. People should enjoy the Mayhem while they can because a) it is a fine beer, b) it usually sells out quickly, and c) Malthouse has received utterly reliable intelligence that the end of the world is nigh. [8]

The Apocalypse will come at the twelfth minute of the twelfth hour of the twelfth day of the twelfth month in the twelfth year of the 21st Century. 

And it will not come alone. 

Next time, we eat part of the sun for half an hour. 

[1] Ryan has been described on-line as “Regional’s own German beer enthusiast” but I’m pretty sure they are mixing him up with Kieran Haslett-Moore…

[2] Does the Ukraine produce tangerines?

[3] A sceptre is the ceremonial staff held by a monarch as a symbol of their authority.  So, for those wondering about the beer’s unusual name, it is probably either an anti-royal visit gag or a penis joke.  The beer was brewed in New Plymouth – it’s a penis joke.

[4] For the record, we never did get those earthenware jugs.

[5] See what I did with that segue?

[6] This was annoyingly funny and, given the bread had been roughly cut with a knife, quite an accurate portrayal of my hometown. 

[7] These segues are ‘en el fuego’ today.

[8] Exclusive news of the impending global destruction probably should have been more prominent in the post. 

Cheers

Beer Writer
Beer and Brewer Magazine

Links

Moa Extremely Modern Brewing – www.moabeer.com
Garage Project Brewery – www.garageproject.co.nz/
Liberty Brewing Company – www.libertybrewing.co.nz/
Southstar Brewing - www.facebook.com/SouthstarBrewing
Epic Brewing Company – www.epicbeer.com
Kiwicon - www.kiwicon.org/
Malthouse Facebook - www.facebook.com/pages/Malthouse/7084276173
Malthouse Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/malthouse
Malthouse Taps on Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/MalthouseTaps
Neil Miller on Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/#!/beerlytweeting
Beer and Brewer Magazine - www.beerandbrewer.com/