In the latest edition of our Mixed Six we speak to Mike Neilson, founder of Panhead Custom Ales

Favourite beer in your core range?

It would have to be our Port Road Pilsner. I feel like it’s a beer that brewers drink: light, clean and refreshing, with enough hops to keep you interested. It’s also nice to have the beer to do bloody well in the awards!  I think it might be our most awarded beer.

The beer you are most proud of?

There have been many, so it’s hard to pinpoint just one over the years. Recently it would be our Yuzu Sour, which won a gold medal at the Brewers Guild Awards in such a massive class. I’m proud of the fact that we worked along an artisan grower of yuzu in NZ.  I know how much effort Neville and Junko Chun put into their citrus, and we were able to do good by them and their amazing produce.

Which new beer are you most excited about?

We have a little 600L pilot plant in our tasting room in Upper Hutt where we get to brew and trial different ideas, flavours and techniques. We are getting into the late spring and summer months, the time when everything is growing and the weather is warming up:  perfect timing to sit back with a beer and brainstorm the next ideas using the produce that is around! So it’s not a specific beer that’s exciting me, it’s what this season is going to bring with new beers popping out of our heads over the next few months.  Typically there’s more ideas than beers we can brew!

First beer you fell in love with?

Jeez, it feels like a long time ago, but back in the olden days my wife and I travelled through Europe and we went to Munich.  While looking at the brochure rack at the hostel office, we saw a walking brewery tour and we booked it for that night. We walked the streets with our guide and he took us to a few beer halls, but it was when he took us to Schneider & Sohn and we drank steins of their Weissbier and Aventinus — that was the gamechanger! Not a lot of people know this but I am one of the wheat beer lovers!  A pint/stein fresh out of the brite tank is a spiritual event.

Global beer you’d like to have now?

I love travelling and Covid has really stuffed this up.  I do miss the West Coast of the USA, and would love to take the kids to Disneyland.  So for me I’d be taking the kids to Disneyland, and when I get sick of the queues, I’ll jump in an Uber and pop down to Noble Ale Works for one of their truly great West Coast style IPAs:  that’s what I want to be drinking right now.

A NZ beer you’re enjoying lately?

I’m enjoying the beers out of Abandoned Brewery at the moment. Tim and his team are doing a great job with their beers and brand.


Three Boys Gas NZIPA

Three Boys Gas NZIPA was originally brewed as a collaboration with Burkes and took third place at the 2021 Smiths IPA challenge.  Now Three Boys have got it into cans for a wider release in their Brewers Reserve series.

State of the Hazy Nation Revisited

Luke Nicholas talks about what makes a great hazy IPA and why he believes so many people are falling in love with them.

Issue 60 Summer 2021-22

A road trip to Tekapo to find New Zealand’s best beer, a trip to Waiheke to discover Alibi, the Champion Exhibitor at the Brewers Guild Awards. Plus New Zealand’s Beer Hall of Fame, Small Gods, the state of the hazy nation, and breweries cranking out bike beers.

Editor’s choice: 10 best beer moments of 2021

It's been a long time since I tried to do a list of "best" beers of a year. It's just too damn hard to sort great beers into some kind of ranking order.   I'm more fond of the memorable beers. Occasions. Moments when whatever I was drinking made me stop and really...

Capital Diary December — Festive Bevvies

December beer drinking kicked off with the Summerstock festival where 31 Wellington venues each showcased a summer beer brewed by a NZ craft brewer. The festival lasted a week and I managed to get a taste of 13 before they sold out. The standouts for me were: Brew...

Craftwork Good Lord Abbey Tripel

From Oamaru’s Belgian style maestros, Craftwork, Good Lord is an unusual bottle-conditioned Tripel.