, the Canadian scribe toured New Zealand last week meeting with brewers, publicans and beer fans. While he could have reasonably expected hardcore New Zealand beer aficionados to be familiar with some of his work, he could not have predicted that the single piece of his writing Kiwis mentioned most – by a staggering margin it must be said – involved his musings on vegetable loyalty, specifically in relation to broccoli. I have to take a bit of the blame for that.

For the couple of loyal readers who have not read the quote in question, [1] here it is in its original glory:

“Beer drinkers have been duped by mass marketing into the belief that it makes sense to drink only one brand of beer. In truth, brand loyalty in beer makes no more sense than ‘vegetable loyalty’ in food. Can you imagine it? “No thanks, I’ll pass on the mashed potatoes, carrots, bread and roast beef. Me, I’m strictly a broccoli man.”

To my mind, it perfectly encapsulates in four lines the difference between a mainstream beer drinker – furiously loyal to one beer they would likely struggle to identify in a blind tasting [2] – and a craft beer drinker who varies their selection based on flavour, food matching and context. Vegetable loyalty is an absurd concept in food, so Beaumont rightly questions why it is so common when it comes to beer.

The quotation makes a serious point in a novel way, it is both memorable and profound. That is why I often include it at the bottom of the menus I produce for corporate beer tastings. It is a powerful message for those audiences who are often just getting into craft beer. The broccoli quote was also one of the first chosen for the rotating selection of quotations on the Malthouse homepage and, in an incredible coincidence, was actually the one showing when Stephen first checked the site out.

I very much doubt I was the first beer writer to use the quote in New Zealand but I have certainly shared it with thousands of people through years of tastings, presentations and articles. As a result, I am prepared to accept a bit of the responsibility for its wild popularity which left Stephen deeply bemused. [3]

Before he came out to New Zealand, a trip made possible by the generous support of Tuatara Brewing Company, Moa Brewing Company, New Zealand Hops and Cryer Malt, Stephen dropped me an email to ask a few preliminary questions. In Celebrator magazine, he once described himself as a polite Canadian and he most certainly is. The email began with an apology for cold-calling my inbox and then moved to introducing himself. I quickly replied assuring him that neither was necessary because I knew exactly who he was and was a long-time fan.

This was completely confirmed at the beer and food matching I ran with him at the Fork and Brewer when, after discussing the order of events, I pulled out a copy of The Premium Beer Drinkers Guide which he kindly signed for me. This prompted several of the other attendees to immediately proffer books they had bought along. Stephen must be used to it though – he had a designated “signing pen.”

The man I call “My Second Favourite Canadian” [4] blogged some initial thoughts about his New Zealand experience while waiting at the Wellington airport. They appeared under the eye-catching title which I have shamelessly stolen for this post. He was about to start his epic journey back to his home in Toronto where he will pause briefly before heading to Las Vegas. He wryly notes that “it has been a long way to come to drink beer, but I think it was worth it” before providing six reasons why. Here are my favourites:

“1) One of the reasons I came here was to investigate New Zealand hops, which a number of US and UK brewers have been taking a shine to lately. What I found is that they are exactly as interesting, characterful and flavoursome as you’ve been hearing. Not enough are being grown at present, but I expect that will change .

3) Don’t be surprised if sometime over the next couple of years you start hearing about New Zealand style beers. For me, the pilsner is the most glorious, but it will likely be the Kiwi pale ale/IPA that takes off, led by breweries like Tuatara and 8 Wired.

5) The first big NZ beer presence you can expect in the US will be Moa, which just hooked up with Whole foods. Watch for Five Hop and Methode.

6) The largest craft brewery in New Zealand is miniscule by North American standards. This is a country desperately in need of both hop acreage and brewing capacity.”

Beaumont’s trip included Auckland, Wellington, Nelson/Blenheim and Christchurch for the Great Kiwi Beer Festival. It is always interesting to get an ‘outsiders’ perspective on the industry, particularly one of his standing in the beer world. Overall, I think he was impressed. While in the Craft Beer Capital of New Zealand he spent some time in Malthouse chatting with both the staff and customers. It was great pleasure to be able to host such a knowledgeable presenter, respected writer and, frankly, funny guy.

On the theme of international beer co-operation, Malthouse has been asked to help with the hunt for volunteers to work at the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular. Here are the details:

“The great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular is looking for volunteers for the festival between 11 and 13 May 2012. In return for volunteering, each GABS volunteer can attend a free session and will receive a festival pack. The pack includes a tasting paddle and festival glass, and beer and food tokens. All volunteers will also receive an exclusive GABS volunteer t-shirt and food vouchers for their volunteer session.

Interested? Go to http://thelocal.com.au/gabs/volunteer.php

Questions? Email volunteer@thelocal.com.au

[1] It originally appeared in “What I’ve Learned About Beer” in early 2002.

[2] This description accurately describes my early years of beer drinking. I think I was a case study in the Tui marketing department for a while there.

[3] This is the strongest Canadian emotion not related to ice hockey.

[4] Behind William Shatner, no shame in that.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Real Beer

New Zealand Beer and Brewer Magazine

Links Stephen Beaumont’s Blog – http://worldofbeer.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/i-have-been-to-new-zealand-and-it-is-good/

Malthouse Facebook – www.facebook.com/pages/Malthouse/7084276173

Malthouse Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/malthouse

Malthouse Taps on Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/MalthouseTaps

Neil Miller on Twitter – www.twitter.com/#beerlytweeting

Real Beer – www.realbeer.co.nz

Beer and Brewer Magazine – www.beerandbrewer.com/