The Malthouse poured its first beer in 1993.

The original premises were on Willis Street and the bar area was up a sweeping set of wooden stairs. From the very beginning, the Malthouse had a commitment to serving a wide variety of beers. This immediately landed us in some strife with the bigger breweries who wanted to control and limit the range of beers a bar could offer.

Being the first New Zealand bar to serve Heineken was an early Malthouse milestone – and also our first trip to the lawyers. Apparently, no one said offering the discerning beer drinker a real choice was going to be easy.

The Willis Street bar was hugely popular with nearby workers and also attracted crowds from many miles to try some of the more unusual beers on offer. We quickly lost track of how many ‘firsts’ we were racking up on the beer front.

Wellington Beer Writer Neil Miller said trying a particularly special Malthouse beer changed his entire outlook on beer. He wrote:

I met a Pink Elephant Mammoth – a rich dark beer made by Englishman Roger Pink in Blenheim. I initially tried this beer because it was strong – I kept drinking it because it was so flavoursome. My beer conversion happened on the balcony of the old Malthouse when I should have been in Philosophy 101. Whole new vistas of beer were opened up to me and I’ve been frolicking happily in them ever since.

The original location for The Malthouse was scheduled for an extensive re-development and we realised it was time to move. The logical place to head was Courtenay Place – Wellington’s party central.

We managed to obtain a run-down venue called Seam Bar. Seam had spectacularly failed to capture the imagination of the drinking public and its demise went largely unlamented. After an extensive fit-out which involved installing a record number of beer taps, the Malthouse put out the open sign at 48 Courtenay Place for the first time in March 2007.

And the rest, as they say, is history.