The Malthouse celebrates its 21st birthday

PREPARED TO PARTY: The Malthouse manager and partner Colin Mallon.
PREPARED TO PARTY: The Malthouse manager and partner Colin Mallon.

It is The Malthouse's 21st and it's putting on a keg, actually multiple kegs.

The Malthouse is a Wellington institution and a regular haunt for beer lovers.

The 29 taps are ever-changing and if there is nothing that suits - one of the 150 bottled beverages is sure to do the trick.

The Courtenay Place pub will celebrate its 21st birthday with a week-long party next week - the week leading up to the beer festival Beervana.

There will be a special tap line-up of more than 21 different beers.

Manager and partner Colin Mallon said he had been working on the line-up for nine months.

"It will hopefully be one our most spectacular tap line-ups," he said.

"Some of the beers are ones that have been made specifically for our birthday.

"There also are rare ones from the United States and we have kegs of some New Zealand beers that are only ever produced in bottles."

The Malthouse first opened in Willis St in 1993, but had to move when its building was demolished as part of the Chews Lane redevelopment.

"The last day was Christmas Eve, 2006. It was a bit crazy," Mallon said.

"The people who re-did the building told us we could move back in, but the space was half the size for twice the rent. Yeah, nah."

The regulars returned when the bar re- opened on Courtenay Place in March 2007. "There were some people we didn't get back, people who drank there because it was close to work, but we have amazing loyalty," Mallon said.

"There are a lot of faces I'll see in here more than once a week and I saw those same faces more than once a week at Willis.

"We get people telling us stories all the time about meeting their husband or wife here, having 21sts, 30ths.

"There was a couple in the other week who I remembered from the old site, they got married there - the full ceremony and party."

The bar has poured nearly three million pints in the past 21 years. So what's made it a success?

"We've never rested on our laurels with our concept," Mallon said.

"The market has evolved massively in the past 21 years and we've moved with it. It was here, at Courtenay Place, that we got serious about beer. People were coming back from their OEs and had been exposed to all sorts of different products. We had a reasonable range in Willis St, but not always the knowledge to back it up."

The Malthouse staff are now trained in all things beer, including presentation.

The bar had about 45 different glasses, so each beer was always served the right way, Mallon said.

Craft beer has exploded in the past seven years and The Malthouse's range has exploded with it, but there will always be something for everyone, including Tui.

"The way we look at it is, beer's a hero," Mallon said. If we can get mainstream beer drinkers in here drinking their beer, they're only a step away from being exposed to the range of product we've got.

"We encourage try before you buy. The jump from Heineken to Tuatara Helles is tiny, but all of a sudden they have Tuatara in their hand.

"From there it's not a big jump to a pilsner or a pale ale."

According to Mallon the next few years are going to be exciting in the ever- changing beer world.

Serbian beers could be the next big thing, he said.

Meanwhile, cheers and happy birthday The Malthouse.


The Malthouse

21 years old

29 beers on tap

150 bottled beers

Nearly 3 million pints poured

48 different beer glasses

The Wellingtonian