‘Find yourself at Beervana’ the banner stretched near Wellington’s Cake-tin Stadium recommends those who draw near.
It is a strangely new-agey slogan for something associated with beer. Self actualisation amid the hops seems a stretch, somehow, although I suppose beer has been associated with rites of passage in New Zealand since time immemorial* so there is some sort of link to matters of meaning there.
Beer has changed. It isn’t flavourless, oversugared swill any more.
Wellington has become, for reasons which may not be totally clear, the craft beer capital of the country as well as being, you know, the real capital.
It is great for Wellers to be associated with something which didn’t have its origin in politics or government or those bloody hobbit movies.
Or does it?
OK, we can, thankfully, skip the political angle.
But I rekkin the emergence of craft beer as Wellington thing is linked closely to the Peter Jackson movies.
Firstly, something was needed to replace coffee for my fellow Wellingtonians to get precious about. Peak coffee snobbery in fact was reached sometime in the mid-late ‘90s – (for Auckland this happened around a decade later) and a replacement was a long time coming.
But the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings brought a new wave of people to the capital.
In this case, extras who played hobbits. Who, in the way of fillum extras everywhere, had to spend a lot of time hanging around waiting for the film technical folk to get film technical things just right.
You can see what happened.
Someone, one day, surveyed this bunch of intense, nerdy, short, bearded blokes hanging around listlessly with nothing to do, and had an idea.
“[click of fingers, lightbulb going off above head] BEER!”
Not just any beer, but crafty, fussy beer these fillum types can make a big deal about. Beer which, it is claimed, is “hand crafted” – a term which always triggers a mental image of someone kneading the stuff.
And thus an industry was born.
Do not get me wrong. There are a couple of brew in this lot which I love. Tuatara comes tops – their Helles is a fantastic lager, and I’m a recent convert to their Copper-top.
Hallertau also has a couple of very good products – again, the red brew, ‘Copper Tart’ has a fine flavour which goes well with curries.
A darker brew is the Hallertau Deception. I’m quite a fan of dark lagers – I really miss Christchurch Dux de Lux brewer’s Hereford Dark Lager.
Anyway, enough of this.
Beer is for drinking, for talking over – not about.
*when Wilson Whineray retired from the All Blacks