Category Archives: Events

When cheese meets beer: an Aro Valley Romance

Wine and cheese is a pairing is viewed by many foodies as one of life’s great culinary pleasures. Less appreciated is the pairing of beer and cheese. This December, the Thirsties invited Lucy from the blog Life & Cheese and the intrepid brewers from The Garage Project, to join forces to do some serious match-making between their respective loves.


Behind closed doors at the Garage Project, Lucy curated an enticing cheese board featuring an alliance of cheesy goodness from France and England.

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Around the cheese board clockwise: Valancay (pyramid shaped), Delice de Bourgogne, Beaufort, Keens Cheddar and Stichelton.

As we hungrily eyed up the boards of white gold, Phil from The Garage Project poured us a cheerful taster of Hāpi Daze, and Lucy gave us a run down on how to get the most out of our cheese and beer tasting during the evening. This included the command that bread was only to be consumed as palette cleanser and not as a cheese carrier. Her most memorable piece of advice, however, was on how to make a ‘cheesy highway’ in our mouths for the beer to slosh down.

As we earnestly concentrated  on preparing our cheesy highways with a slice of Valançay, a nutty, fudgy raw goat cheese, Phil poured our first match-fit beer, Summer Sommer, the brewery’s ‘love child’ with iconic Norwegian craft brewery Nøgne Ø.  As the honey coloured liquor hurtled down 15 different highways, Lucy told us that acidic goat cheeses are good at holding their ground against hoppy IPAs, and their lemony tang complements lightly spiced beers. The Valançay was fresh and springy – a little too young for some palettes. With the addition of a mouthful of Summer Sommer, however, it happily changed seasons. It may not have been love, but a pleasant summer day’s match was made.

Whereas most beer tastings move slowly from light to dark, Lucy threw out the rules with her second pairing. Next inline on the cheese board was a plump, luxurious and silky looking cheese. When cut, it revealed its triple cream gloopiness in all its glory. It’s name was Délice de Bourgogne – a femme fatale of cheese if there ever was one. It was the perfect cheese, Lucy decided to star alongside a dark glass of Aro Noir, the Garage Project’s ‘stout for all seasons’. Fittingly, as the glasses were poured, Wellington’s skies darkened and the asphalt outside the brewery became slick with rain.

I had initially been dubious about the pairing of the Délice and Noir – I was a fan of hard cheeses with stouts. Lucy assured us, however, that ‘the lactic sweetness of triple creams create magic with malty triples, stouts and porters’. We might not have been fully listening by then, however, as the magic had already begun to play out on the cheesy highway which had become a highway to heaven. Everyone fell head over heels for Délice’s seductive charms, and a near perfect match was made between an elegant French import and a beer from the wrong side of the valley.

Two cheeses down, and three to go, and already we had reached perfection. Had the evening peaked too soon? Having delved into the dark side we were back in the sun with Pils ‘n’ Thrills, a citrusy American hopped pilsener. Lucy paired this with Beaufort, a raw, alpine cheese from Savoie, France. Smooth, fruity, nutty and sweet, it is known as a ‘friendly’ cheese and one of France’s, and now Malice’s, all time favourites. True to form, it went with every beer we tried as ‘alpine cheeses have the body to stand up to malty porter and stouts and the sweetness to pair with ESB, lager or pilsners’. However, it was super good with Pils ‘n’ Thrills. Somehow, it made the beer’s citrusy nature, something I typically run a mile from, so much more palatable and enjoyable.

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Lucy from Life and Cheese enthuses about Beaufort, the ‘Heidi of cheeses’, in front of a line up of Pils n Thrills.

Sometime about now, three young, brazen Argentinian tourists hustled their way into the brewery, proffering an empty Garage Project bottle. They were leaving the next day, and were desperate to savour every drop they possibly could. Ian took pity on the damp trio, refilled their bottle and wished them well for their travels. Meanwhile, back on the cheeseboard we were crossing the channel to England, to a hard, crumbly cheddar and curmudgeonly looking blue.

The cheddar was made by the Keens, a family from Somerset who have been making cheddar since 1899. If you are travelling their way, you can purchase cheese directly from their farm in 25kg, 3kg and 1.5kg truckles (a truckle being a fancier and more fun way of saying wheel of cheese). We didn’t quite have a truckle, but we ate a fair amount of cheddar, for as Lucy decreed ‘its made for beer’. While IPAs complement its sharp kick, malty ESB, stouts and sweet barley wines lure out cheddar’s sweeter side. The Garage Project’s Ian matched this traditional cheese with the brewery’s futuristic Venusian Pale Ale, a zesty beer full of lemon grass, kaffir lime leaf and grapefruit peel and spiced with a touch of Venusian Spear Fungus for that extra special kick.


Ian from the Garage Project spins a tall tale about the trials and tribulations of gathering Venusian Spear Fungus.

And then last, but never lest, there was the gnarly old blue – not a Stilton but a Stichelton from Nottinghamshire – a raw milk cheese Lucy had once flown across the world to try, but which she managed to buy more cheaply at Moore Wilson’s for our tasting. Our last cheese of the night was born over a glass of beer.

Legend has it that one evening way back in 2004, a cheese maker with the unlikely name of Joe Schneider was having a beer in a London pub with Randolph Hodgson, chairman of Neal’s Yard Dairy, the cheese-lover’s mecca.

‘Randolph asked, ‘You wanna do this raw-milk Stilton project?’ I said, ‘Yeah, great idea,’ and got another beer. But the idea sunk in – he’d planted it. Later on I thought, wow, could I really do that? It’s like the Holy Grail of cheesemaking, to bring back the quintessential English cheese and make it with raw milk on a small working farm.’

The cheese born over a beer – the mighty Stichelton.

Lucy paired the Stichelton with a beer inspired by another great English tradition, Shakespeare. For the latter we have to thank Peter Gillespie’s sensationally literate and historically aware 10 year old daughter, Maddie, the beer’s creative brains (good parenting Pete). The father and daughter duo first brewed Burning Globe in 2013 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Globe Theatre fire of 1613, during which a man’s breeches caught fire – an incident ‘that would perhaps have broyled him, if he had not by the benefit of a provident wit, put it out with a bottle of ale.’


Burning Globe on tap – a once a year treat.

As the Globe had been made from oak, Maddie insisted that the beer was brewed with oak-smoked wheat malt. (You can read Maddie’s account here).

Brewed only once a year, Burning Globe is simply too delicious to waste on putting out a fire. Indeed, The Little One pronounced Burning Globe as evening’s stand-out, declaring that she had found her one true Garage Project Beer. In regards to a match for the old blue, however, she thought the Stichelton ‘really hummed’ with the Aro Noir and VPA.

While Burning Globe was much admired all round, and it was agreed that many of the cheeses could be happily eaten with many of the beers, the stand out match for the evening was by total agreement the voluptuous Délice de Bourgogne with a glass of slick Aro Noir – cheese and beer perfection.


The cheesy remains of an evening well spent.

With only the nubbins left, the evening came to a close, and we made our way home clutching our cheesy beer babies. Thankfully the rain had stopped.

A big thanks to Lucy and Kate from Life & Cheese and to Phil and Ian from the Garage Project for hosting us. It was a great night, full delicious beer and cheese, passion, history and tall tales. We now feel qualified to make cheesy highways on our own.

All of the cheeses described above, with the exception of the Stichelton, can be purchased from Wellington’s Francophile haven, Le Marche Français. The beers of course can be purchased directly from the Garage Project’s cellar door at 68 Aro Street, Wellington. The delicious bread, which must also get a mention, was baked by Acme.

By The Lady Piemaker

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The sun was out for a most enjoyable Pacific Beer Expo (PBE) in Wellington, New Zealand. A good crowd was in attendance supping on a great range of beers. A highlight of the day was a tasting session of three brews by Bryan Baird of Baird Brewing, in Japan. There will be more from The Thirstyboys on the PBE in the coming days. Pictured below is Matutu Mai (5.0%) – a lager from the from the Cook Islands, brewed with German Pilsner malt and four hops. 10247210_10202889444380721_3257256491181358481_n

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The T-shirts of Beervana…2014 edition

It’s Beervana time again in New Zealand, and just like last year and the year before that, we thought we’d give you an insight into the culture of New Zealand’s beer geeks at Beervana through their T-shirts.

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This selection is from the first session of day one, I only photographed T-shirts on punters. My personal favourite is the boxing bear image…I’d buy a poster or statuette of that! Many thanks to all the T-shirt wearers for participating. To follow the Thirstyboys beer blog by e-mail notification please click follow at the bottom right hand corner of the screen. Cheers…

You may also like the T- shirts of beervana 2012  or the T-shirts of beervana 201s

You may also like The Great Pacific beard (I mean beer) Expo 2012

or check out the BEERVANA 2013 STYLE FILE


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Greasy’s Greatest Hits a/k/a No New Release Tuesday

A day after his hemmity-hemth birthday, Greasylightbulb was joined by a gaggle of his most tolerated accomplices* to memorialise his efforts at documenting the local and international craft beer scene. Click on the links (BOLDED)...


BEER AND CURRY:  self explanatory


A NIGHT OF OLD GASH- ALLAGASH BREWING OF PORTLAND MAINE: The theme of the evening was the beers of Allagash Brewing of Portland, Maine. This brewery founded in 1995 specialises in providing a distinctly American twist on traditional Belgian styles.

The Thirsty Boys June 2013

VALUE BEERS: A blind tasting with a mix of beers to challenge preconceptions, possibly find impressive cheaper beers, and to get people to think objectively about beers and how much they are worth.

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OUR FAVOURITE PLACES: BAR EDWARD: a review of the wellington establishment part of series of short reviews of bars, breweries and beer drinking venues from across the archipelago.

If you feel so inspired, we urge you to raise a pint of Northend ESB, the mighty Lightbulb’s favourite new beer of 2013. Per the birthday boy himself, this gloriously fresh, moreish fusion between Old World and New World ingredients will surely float your boat.

Normal service, including haiku, will resume next week. Probably. We think.

* Malice, Gingerbeardyman, Troughboy, the Lady Piemaker, The Little One and The Jesuit

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Text and Photographs: Greasylightbulb and Malice

Since the formation of the Thirstyboys, Malice has been getting grief from them about there being no craft beer in the Pacific. What annoys him is that these guys (a couple of whom fail to drink across the craft beer spectrum) forget that New Zealand is an archipelago of islands in the Pacific (like Japan and Hawaii) and there is an annual event called the Great Pacific Beer Expo held in Wellington, New Zealand every October. Given the Pacific’s horizons are much broader than the Thirstyboys’ imagination will ever be, we thought we might as well have a go at highlighting for them some of its many craft beer dimensions.

This historically significant beer tasting was organised for the Pacific History Association Conference held in Wellington, December 2012. About ten people showed up to the tasting. There were Pacific historians , indigenous and non indigenous Pacific Island dwellers of several shades and beard types, a few Frenchmen and women, and even an anthropologist in training. The evening was hosted by award winning Beer scribe Phil Cook  who had long seen the possibilities of a Pacific themed beer tasting.

So here is the schedule of beers we tried, each with a short historical note and our vote for best beer at the end. Our grateful thanks to Adrian and Teresia of the Pacific History Association for helping make this happen, GLB for his note taking…and of course to Phil Cook for bringing the selection of beers together on one table. (click to enlarge images)

Hinano Tahiti (Tahiti)

Named after the national icon flower of Tahiti, this beer was launched in 1995 at the annual Tiurai festival currently known as Heiva i Tahiti.  It’s a light golden lager that comes in at 5%.  “Smelt bready, reasonable body, no faults”. Shortly after establishing the beer it was marketed and sold in China, and in1962, according to the website, they gave the lady on the bottle bigger breasts.

“Has a charmingly awkward website” –Phil

“a footnote to culture contact” – Hugh


Coopers Brewery Sparkling Ale (Australia)

Making beer since 1862! Probably quite early in Pacific beer making history, but not the earliest (see below). So this is their 150th anniversary. It has defined a style in Australia, Australian Pale Ale, now everyone makes one.

Bottle conditioned, the website tells you how to mix up the sediment if you want in different ways for different beers. This is a gimmick and Phil said when he met one of the Cooper family that they poured it clean without the sediment.

Someone started talking about Vipala? Bark as a bitter medicine, didn’t sound like a compliment

Nice, could have been served colder.

The Mussel Inn Captain Cooker Manuka Beer (New Zealand)

This a Rimu/Manuka beer interpreted from a recipe used on one of English explorer Captain Cook’s voyages to New Zealand in the late 1700s. Named after the pig that was named after Captain Cook, so “piling one pun on top of another” – Phil.

Brewed in Golden Bay by Mussel Inn since 1995. Listed as 4% but bottle said 5%. Possibly because this is a version made in invercargill breweries. Complicated? The beer is actually also brewed overseas in Belgium by de Proefbrouwerij, though it’s 5.7% there and the bottles look very different. It’s also  brewed in the United States, where it’s cranked up to over 6%. There is an invitation for anyone to brew it in fact…, they keep sending it to labs to get scientific proof of it’s health benefits, antioxidants etc, but nothing had been proven.


Kererū Kumara Brown Ale (New Zealand)

The kereru is the wood pigeon that is native to New Zealand, and the kumara was brought to New Zealand by the first settlers from the Pacific. Made by an American from the movie industry in a brewery so small you’d struggle to bath in it see here . Labels are made by his wife. Inspired by American pumpkin ales. Tastes great with nuts, Phil got a brief lesson on the difference between kumara being indiginized not native.


Garage Project Kava Coconut (New Zealand)

Probably the first kava coconut beer made in New Zealand ever. From the Kava supplied by Malice & Teresia and the brewing skills of Pete at Garage Project. (You should read his account of brewing the beer. ) Some instant expressions of delight or horror on tasting it “some of the interesting qualities of the kava have come through” – Teresia. It’s Fijian Kava. We learned about the washdown after a kava session and that kava tastes cause sensitising, the opposite of habituating, so that the more you drink it the more you are able to detect it.

It tasted a lot more balanced and integrated than at the Pacific Beer Expo, Phi discussed how a lot of beers are sold and consumed a bit earlier than they should be ideally.


Baird Beer Korofune Porter (Japan)

Kurofune – named after the American black ships (powered by coal and black in colour) that rocked up in Yokusuka, Japan for a bit of gunboat diplomacy in 1853. This event in the islands of the Pacific rim led to the establishment of trade and diplomatic relations between Japan and the United States. Phil told us how the area now actually embraces the label and imagery which isn’t something you’d imagine being mirrored in many other parts of the world…

“Budweiser Pearl Harbour anyone?” – Tom

Tastes like soy, umami.


Maui Brewing Co. Coconut Porter (Hawaii)

This award winning brewery has been going since 2005. Aside from the curiosity the big novelty here was the cans! Tom suggested if you actually made cans look just like minikegs then they’d be more accepted. They stack well, cool quicker, stop light defects, the librarian at the other end of the table pointed out it would be harder to hurt someone with a can than a bottle, Librarians hey.

This can label departed slightly from their usual content and wasn’t well received by the learned team. Very slightly sickly tasting beer if you are not one for coconut, less of a beer for the beach and more of a beer for the evening. it’s definitely worth checking out, Phil’s written about it here .


The vote for the tasting:

4 years in the making and a labour of love for Malice, Captain Cooker and kava coconut came equal first in the vote, 2 votes per person system. Maui came 3rd. Mahalo nui…!


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