A note on Beer and Beervana

‘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 Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 9.42.10 amsomething 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

It was a uniform thing

Story in the Haerald, linked to by Danyl, had me swaying slightly uncertainly down memory lane.

University pub crawl, sometime in late ’80s.  I wasn’t drinking a huge amount but I’d had a couple of beers & we’d reached the best pub on the crawl  – the Shakespeare.

We’re on a table next to the window and three traffic wardens amble past. I muse to the group, “I’ve always wanted one of their hats.”

Its important to remember that at the time traffic wardens wore fairly formal uniforms. Oh, and I had a bit of a thing about women and hats.

“I dare ya,” says one of the group – who is now, by the way, a highly respected university professor of philosophy at  an Ivy League American college.

“Twenty bucks?” I ask, knowing that with his family background he can well afford it.

“You’re on,” he says.

The three wardens are by now waiting at the traffic lights on the corner by the pub, so I dip out and sneak silently – or so I thought – up behind them.

I figured I’d go for the middle one because I didn’t want to make it too easy.

As I got to striking distance she whirls around, grabs her hat in one hand and the other one shoves a finger under my nose.

“You want it?  Its thirty five bucks,” she says.

With as much dignity as I could muster I pulled out my wallet and asked if she’d take a cheque.

“You’ve got to be joking,” she says.

Quick calculation tells me if I fork over the $35 and win the bet I’m still $15 down.

I’m stingy. Besides, by then the ‘cross now’ signal had gone and they headed across Wyndham St. Laughing, the heartless cows.

Still. Nice uniforms they had in those days.

There is some ill a-brewing towards my rest

John Birmingham has a post about how the economics of home brewing are well and truly rooted.  He’s right.  Personally I have never trusted any home brew.

I recall little of my own first experience of home brew but I do recall the next day, waking, whimpering and clinging to the carpet, ripping my eyelids open and having a vicious little pixie with a pick-axe rise up and smite me between the eyes, and go on smiting for the next two days.

God help me, I was only 17.

A few years later, at uni,  a bloke I knew produced some lovely homebrew at a party:  tasted like a particularly light and refreshing cider. It slipped down easy and was about 12% proof. To the unititiated, it said ‘drink lots of me, I’m easy’.

To wiser heads, it screamed BEWARE.  I had half a glass and kept steady while the rest of the room degenerated into mayhem, wreckage, and debauchery.

The bloke who made the home brew now heads up one of the country’s more prominent and successful  fund managers.  Read into this what you will.

The spiritual home of the Home Brew kit is of course the all male flat, something which Mr Birmingham alludes to….there is a reference back to his meisterwerk, ‘He Died With A Felafel In His Hand’, where he notes all male flats tend to bring out The Beast.

I am still friends with the blokes I knew in my last all-male flat.  Wonderful chaps, who have gone on to  become sober and upright….well, upright-ish… citizens and family men.

But the day a couple of them decided to make home brew in the new wheelie bin the council had thoughtfully provided was the day I decided to move out.  I could see where this was heading.

Happy Friday

Snubbed from the Jobs Summit.

Oh well.
Spent the morning at Archives: then went and bought some beer.
A case of Kingfisher Strong, which google tells me is India’s fastest growing beer product.
Well, I like the stuff, anyway.  
Goes down a beaut with a curry. 
But Kingfisher also seems to have one of the cheesiest web sites on the Interweb.
Never mind.  I don’t actually have to drink their web page. 

A defence of materialism at Christmas….

Is here.

My favourite line is in one of the first comments:

“I’ve never understood extremists but I tend to be of the opinion that there’s nothing much that a good pie, beer and a root won’t fix.”

Ya gotta love those Aussies.

Oh, and here’s another great line from the comments boxes:

Karl Marx said “Religion is the opiate of the masses,” but I submit that’s purely because he couldn’t kick back and take in the Playboy Channel on super-size HD plasma widescreen.

That’s REAL opiate for you, Karl.