A passion for drinking on the job

01:43, Jan 31 2009
CHEERS TO BEERS: Colin Mallon says preparation is key to ensuring a sampling session does not descend into an alcoholic fog.

Colin Mallon is in no danger of being fired for drinking on the job, which is just as well considering he recently tasted 101 beers in six hours.

The impressive feat happened when Mr Mallon, 37, judged his first big beer competition an annual Wellington beer survey. Unlike wine tasters, beer judges must swallow each brew so they can get the full impact of its colour, smell and taste.

"If you are tasting 100 beers, you have 50ml of each, so there is five litres of beer straight off. For some of them you only need the smallest of tastes, others you need to go back to, but you certainly wouldn't jump in your car and drive home."

Preparation is key to ensuring a sampling session does not descend into an alcoholic fog, and a hearty breakfast and lunch on tasting day is an important component.

Though many people consider beer tasting to be a dream job Mr Mallon included it is harder than it sounds.

"Being able to keep your palate fresh and your mind open when you are tasting 101 beers can be exhausting. It is nice to put your feet up and have a cup of tea at the end of the day, to tell you the truth."


Mr Mallon, a softly spoken Scotsman, arrived in Wellington about five years ago and now manages The Malthouse in Courtenay Place.

"But my passion came from running a real ale bar in Edinburgh, which I did for a couple of years. It was eye opening to see that beer didn't have to be as blonde and fizzy as a Budweiser."

A beer revolution was hopping along in New Zealand, he said, even though beer sales had fallen in recent years. "Beer isn't a growing market. However, the craft beer segment of the market is increasing. There are some fantastic products out there."

Many boutique beers are designed to be matched with food but never suggest to Mr Mallon that they should be swilled.

"I hate it when people talk about beer and use the word swilling, which is never used to describe wine drinking.

"Beer seems to have the tag of being the poor relation to wine. I have made it my mission in life to try and convince people otherwise."


The Dominion Post