According to Greek mythology, Cassandra, Princess of Troy, was granted the gift of prophecy by the God Apollo but, when she refused his advances, he added a caveat (commonly called a curse by non-lawyers) that her predictions would never be believed. Cassandra went on to become highly unpopular at parties due to her dire utterances and eventually got to watch Troy totally destroyed, exactly as she had told the other Trojans time and time again.  

Nostradamus is regarded by many as a highly accurate prophet though people only tend to figure out his predictions well after the actual events have occurred and only after an awful lot of work. If Nostradamus was really that good, he could have been a lot clearer. 

Muhammad has a substantial and growing following to this day. 

Not every prophet is successful. Timothy Drew’s Moorish Science Temple of America never really took off. The lunatic David Koresh led his Branch Davidian followers to their deaths while Ken Ring is widely (and correctly) considered a dangerous earthquake predicting fruitcake.

My favourite prophet would have to be Paul the Oracle Octopus, the German Common Octopus [1] who correctly predicted the results of eleven international soccer/football matches, including seven in a row during the 2010 World Cup. He did get two wrong but this was almost certainly on purpose just to test our collective faith. Paul, who really should have been knighted for services to awesomeness, passed away in 2010 – he was just two years old. [2] He almost certainly saw it coming.

Since the tragic demise of Paul, me and my TAB account have been seeking a new oracle or prophet to chart the future, particularly in relation to sport, beer and/or iPredict. I found a man – if he is mortal, there is some dispute – who has predicted that craft beer drinkers will push back against big, strong hoppy beers and demand more balanced and sessionable beers. He first made this prediction in the Sunday Star-Times and, more recently, in an interview with Stuff’s Beerhive blog.

His name is Stu McKinlay, co-founder of the Yeastie Boys, but from today I fervently believe that he should be called “The Purple Panted Prophet of PKB.” [3] Here is a reading from his Beerhive interview:

“But as Stu tells The Beerhive, things are about to start heading in a different direction (the pants will stay the same). [4I know for a fact that we (brewers) are actually alienating potential craft beer drinkers by pushing big hops and alcohol so much. It’s the same way people did with clean and tropically fruity Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 20 years ago.”

He’s dismayed with all the big boozy hop bombs New Zealand is producing and wants to see more variety on the shelves. So much so that he’s going to make them himself. In the pipeline are a couple of new beers that will be “immensely drinkable” and “pleasant enough not to be the centre of attention when they don’t need to be, while also having the wow factor.”

This follows on the heels of their beer Golden Perch, which was brewed for The Hobbit premiere and needed the boys to do some convincing of the organisers after questions were raised if they could make a beer normal enough for everyone to like.[5].

Now, I’m not at all convinced that I personally will wake up one day and say “gosh, I’ve been wasting my time with these resinous, mouth-puckering hop bombs for years, I really want a nice half of bitter and some pork scratchings.” However, I am convinced that a growing number of drinkers will be heading in the direction Stu has outlined for us. Some in the industry believe that we will follow the United States into the sour beer trend, the same way we previously embraced the hoppy bandwagon. I am now certain flavoursome session beers will be huge this summer and next year. 

I’m so sure that I have written about it for the next issue of Beer and Brewer magazine. 

Here is an edited preview: 

“One of the main issues many drinkers cite is a lack of flavour and/or body in lighter beers.  Several craft brewers have managed to make full-flavoured light beer but these are the exception rather than the rule. One area where there appears to be significant growth potential is well-made, mid-strength, sessionable ales around 3%-4%.  Emerson’s Bookbinder (3.7%) has been in this category for over 20 years but is now joined by tasty beers such as Hallertau Minimus (3.8%) and Croucher Low Rider (2.5%). 

In terms of bold predictions about the Kiwi beer scene, overall beer volumes will drop and that will principally be driven by falls in low- to medium-strength mainstream beer sales. Lower-carbohydrate beers will continue to grow, but at a slower rate and will never rival the popularity of the style in the United States.  Full-flavoured mid-strength craft will be the significant new trend, particularly as the push back against high-octane pale ale hopbombs continue. Balance and sessionability could well be the new black.”  

Malthouse is marking this emerging trend early with its first ever celebration of session beers. It was going to be called The Summer Session but Al Gore’s much vaunted global warming failed to eventuate in Wellington yet again. Instead, 22nd November will be the inaugural Malthouse Session Beer Session with at least 15 session beers on tap at the same time, [6] all 4.5% alcohol or less.  Here is the current line up and my random comments in brackets:

Good George White Ale 4.5%
8 Wired Semiconductor 4.4% (I adore this beer)
Brew Moon Amberley Pale Ale (Easily my favourite brewery in Amberley)
Raindogs Wee Bairn Bitter 3.8% (Colin will drink this just so he gets to say the name and confuse his staff)
Moa Everyday Pale Ale 3.8%
Mussel Inn Captain Cooker 4.0% (Should be everyone’s “New Zealand Beers to Try Before You Die List”) [7]
Three Boys Golden Ale 4.5%
Yeastie Boys Golden Perch 4.4% (A Hobbit-inspired brew made for Sir Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh)
Four Avenues Pale Ale 4.5%
Croucher Lowrider 2.5% (A ground breaking pale ale for me)
Hallertau Minimus 3.8% (It’s a superb example of the style)
Tuatara Best Bitter 3.5%
Emerson’s Bookbinder 3.7% (The original session beer which has been away from Malthouse for too long)
Townshend TBC 3.5% (That is not it’s real name… probably.  Can’t be certain with Martin’s cheeky sense of humour…)
Fork & Brewer/ Yeastieboys Brews Brother 4.2%

Next time we drink to the Stuff website editor who, for a potentially dull story about how a pest bird called the red-vented bulbul may be loose in Auckland, came up with the legendary headline “Bounty increased for Auckland’s Angry Bird.”  No drinks for the original sub-editor whose headline was “Bounty increased for Auckland’s pest bird.”

[1] His species name – this magnificent creature was anything but common.

[2] A truly just God would take Justin Bieber and Michael Laws and give us Paul the Octopus and Ronald Reagan back.

[3] In fact, if even one person calls him that, preferably before he reads this blog, I will consider it a highlight of my literary career. 

[4] There are few recorded instances of any writer talking about Stu for more than one paragraph without mentioning his penchant for colourful leg garments. This blog has never successfully managed it.

[5] Clearly the organisers had tasted Rex Attitude – the most polarising beer in the land since the second it was launched (or unleashed) on an unsuspecting public.

[6] Colin the Handsome Yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor has dubbed this selection a “grand gathering” but assures prospective customers that he is still looking to expand the list.

[7] What?  Not everyone has a “New Zealand Beers to Try Before You Die List”?  Outrageous. 

I’m tweeting the Prime Minister about this.


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