In 1981, former all black the late Terry McCashin started Mac’s as an upstart independent brewery in an industry that was completely dominated by two big breweries. After driving rubbish trucks and playing rugby at the very highest level, McCashin started running pubs. He quickly became disillusioned with the lack of choice as the breweries sought to tie venues to their beers alone. He famously said, “New Zealanders don’t like being told what to drink – that’s what the breweries were doing. They’d taken some of the best beers off the market and standardised them right through the country. They took some interest out of the product.”

Mac’s had to fight to start up with obstacles placed in their way when trying to obtain brewing vessels, malt and bottles. They fought through and were famously launched by Prime Minister Rob Muldoon. Although pictured with a pint, Muldoon apparently insisted on his favoured scotch whisky being available off camera.

Mac’s was purchased by Lion in 1999 but the brewers are allowed substantial leeway these days. My absolute favourite is Mac’s Birthday Suit Double IPA (7.6%). It is strong and hoppy pale ale with notes of orange, grapefruit and pine needles. It is the most intensely flavoursome beer Mac’s have made since the sadly departed Mac’s Brewjolais fresh- hopped beer. The recommended food pairing for this beer is the amazing Sichuan ox-heart skewers (page 58) – a sentence I do not write very often. The sweetness and bitterness of the beer cuts through the savoury flavours of the heart, and the hops helps cool those deliciously pungent Sichuan spices. / /