– there has always been heated disputes between those who advocate revolution (“Direct Democracy, Communism and G-Strings now!”) and those who advocate evolution (“Supplementary Member, Compassionate Conservatism and Y-Fronts with Pictures of Homer Simpson Playing Golf on Them phased in progressively over the next three to five years!”)

Is sudden radical upheaval the best way forward? Or will only a series of incremental, prudent adjustments create a truly lasting new paradigm? Even the rather revolutionary jacket model and dead dictator Mao Zedong wrote that “a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” Conversely, prodigious hat wearer and deceased Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George advised “don’t be afraid to take a big step. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.”

In many ways, the same debate rages today around lifting beer appreciation. Should elevating a drinker from Tui quaffer to Tuatara connoisseur take a single big sip or a thousand little tastes? The simple fact is that few Heineken fans or Steinlager followers or Radler lovers are going to be instantly converted to a bottle-conditioned American Pale Ale, a wild-fermented sour raspberry beer or a 32% double barrelled imperial stout which has spent three weeks at -20 degrees to help increase its alcoholic strength. * These drinkers need be encouraged and supported to work up to better beers step by step.

The greatest beer writer of all time Michael Jackson recognised the need to help rather than hector when he famously wrote “let’s all work to get people to drink more good beer so “if someone walks into your office and says he drinks Corona, don’t immediately call him a dickhead.” Crucially, his emphasis in this quotation was the word ‘immediately.’

All this reflection and philosophy has been inspired by a piece written exclusively for this blog by Doug Dresser. Doug is a Kiwi beer lover working at Firestone Walker Brewery in California. They make the Union Jack IPA which is now at Malthouse. He obligingly set out some thoughts regarding the craft beer market in New Zealand and around the world. The title of his piece is I’m Talking About A Revolution’:

“My first reaction to being asked to write about the beer scene was one of surprise, and in particular about beer in New Zealand even more so, as I haven’t lived in the country for the past four years. However, I am involved with selling craft beer on a daily basis and I do have a lot of friends and acquaintances involved in NZ beer. The wonders of the internet allow me to keep tabs on what’s happening back in Kiwiland. “

“IMHO **, New Zealand, like many other countries around the world has a wonderful core of craft beer fanatics whose whole life revolves around either making, selling, writing about or simply enjoying beer – just as mine does. This fascination and passion for all things beer is something that the general populace just doesn’t “get”, and they are content to continue to purchase whatever industrial lager/mass produced fizz is on sale without a thought as to what they’re actually drinking.”

“But tastes and awareness of the many styles are continuing to evolve, and the more that passionate Kiwis produce, sell, sample and write about beer, the more taste will progress – it’s a never-ending cycle (a bit like the continuous fermentation process pioneered by Morton Coutts). Who would have thought ten years ago that here in the USA, the major three labels, Budweiser, Coors and Miller, would all be owned by international conglomerates? If that’s not proof that things can change, I don’t know what is.”

“I had lunch the other day in Eureka, California with a staff member of a beer distributor in that town. He’s been in the beer business close to 25 years and has been through the rise of various brands and styles. While I typically hear predictions that craft beer will be the predominant style from those within the craft industry, I never thought I would hear the same prediction from this man whose life has been spent wading through all kinds of lager permutations, but that’s exactly what he said. He really got me thinking about the future of beer.”

“Within craft beer, we talk about being within a beer revolution and the sales statistics bear that out. The question of course that no-on can answer is “Will it last?” I certainly believe it will. I also believe New Zealand brewers are just as qualified and talented as their peers are in the USA and in other parts of the world – many Kiwi beers bear witness to that skill. Just think about the number of breweries that exist now compared to 5 years ago, and the number of retail outlets accepting those beers. It shows that our collective enthusiasm is “rubbing off” on other drinkers!”

“Sometimes though, we are our own worst enemies when it comes to spreading the word of better beer, I remember my workmates (beer neophytes) in the last job I had in NZ asking me about how I would describe a perfect beer evening. I think I overwhelmed them with my answer which went something like: “ Start with light, refreshing beers, like Hefeweizen, Summer Ales or Pilsners. Then move up to more tasty fare, such as Bitters, Brown Ales, Red Ales etc. Later in the evening, progress to the high-flavour, high alcohol beers like IPA’s, Belgian Ales, Imperial Stouts and so on”.

“Looking back on that now, it was more than they wanted to hear, and I think I ended up alienating my co-workers rather than enlightening them! I was trying to fast track them through my years of taste progression in one night when I should have just taken a simple step.”

“So, ultimately – is the message of “better beer” getting through? I think the answer is a resounding “Yes!”, and I believe through the efforts of like-minded people, the word will continue to be spread whether by mouth, by computer or glass by glass. “

“However, we need to remember that it’s still baby steps for most people. We are the leaders, we need to educate! You could say there’s a lot of “untapped” potential!”

Hear hear Doug.

There is more potential being literally untapped at Malthouse this week. Surprisingly, there is still a little 8 Wired Hopwired IPA left (at least while I’m typing this post). I think this beer is simply gorgeous – a full, billowing hop aroma, big passion fruit and citrus flavours, late bitterness and subtle power. Hopwired is one of the finds of the year for me.

New on tap are the delicious Emerson’s Organic Pilsner, the balanced Invercargill Stanley Green and the revamped Epic Lager. The recipe for the Epic Lager has been tweaked in recent months and it is now a little drier, grassier and, in many ways, more drinkable.

Remarkably, the start of the “Spring into Summer” beer event has actually seen the weather improve, all the way up to “average”. The event will run for another week or so with more new beers to be unveiled.

* see Penguin, Tactical Nuclear from BrewDog (link below).

** IMHO – is interweb-geek-speak for In My Humble Opinion. Interestingly, no-one using this acronym is actually being humble.


Beer Writer

Real Beer New Zealand

Beer and Brewer Magazine


Tactical Nuclear Penguin – http://www.brewdog.com/news.php?id=88 (watch the video – possibly the funniest video involving men and dogs in penguin costumes brewing the world’s strongest beer ever made – in my humble opinion any way)

Firestone Walker – http://www.firestonewalker.com/

8 Wired – http://www.8wired.co.nz/

Emerson’s Brewing Company – http://www.emersons.co.nz/

Epic – http://epicbeer.com/

The Impish Brewer – http://imp.epicbeer.com (by popular demand)

Malthouse Facebook Group – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wellington/Malthouse/7084276173

Real Beer – http://www.realbeer.co.nz/blog/blog.html

Beer and Brewer Magazine – http://www.beerandbrewer.com/