I would like to welcome everyone here today and thank you all for your continued support of SOBA. Thanks to the Fork and Brewer for providing us the use of the venue for this AGM. I would also like to thank the committee and others who have contributed over the last year to the daily running of SOBA.
Secretary – Greig McGill
Treasurer – Tom Coleman
Pursuit of Hoppiness Editor – Kate Jordan
Press Secretary – Martin Bulmer
Membership Secretary – Jonny Day
Merchandise Manager – Aidan Caig
Apologies to anyone else I have overlooked. The time and effort you have put into growing SOBA and increasing the public awareness of finely crafted and flavourful beers is greatly appreciated.
2012 has been a year of consolidation for SOBA. Following on from the trademark fight with DB over Radler, 2012 has been somewhat subdued. This year we have continued to grow our membership, we currently have over 600 active members. The focus this year has been to continue to advocate for good beer, provide benefits to members and to establish systems that allow us to manage our rate of growth and the number of members we now have.
Our new online membership system has improved the accuracy of membership details and made it easier for people to renew their membership. The work put in by Greig in establishing the membership processes and the ongoing work of Jonny in processing each membership has meant that our members now receive their membership card in a timely manner and complaints regarding not receiving cards or renewal reminders have dropped significantly.
Kate Jordan has continued on from the great work Nick Page did in establishing The Pursuit of Hoppiness as a high quality, free newsletter on all things beer. The number of enquiries we receive from businesses interested in advertising in the newsletter or wanting copies of the newsletter continues to increase. Circulation of the Pursuit of Hoppiness is increasing from 3000 to 4000 for the upcoming issue.
This year we established the Brewery Relationship Officer (BRO) programme to provide a liaison point between SOBA and the breweries. We expect that through the BRO programme our members will receive more timely information on new beers, brewery events and will be able to enjoy special benefits kindly provided by breweries to SOBA. It will also give breweries an easy path to reach out to their biggest fans – the SOBA membership.
SOBA members have been involved in organising or volunteering in events for beer lovers around New Zealand. The Matariki Winter Ale Festival was held again this year, although due to a trademark of the name Matariki we weren’t officially allowed to call it that. This event and the new Auckland City of Ales festival were both extremely successful with a combined attendance of over 500 enjoying a wide variety of beers from New Zealand’s best breweries. The increasingly popular SOBA National Homebrew Championship is scheduled for later this year. SOBA have also been involved in organising home brewing demonstrations, beer tastings and regular monthly regional meetings. These have all contributed towards an increase in the SOBA membership.
Financially, SOBA has continued to grow the balance sheet this year and now has a healthy bank balance with which we can look to fund initiatives aligned to the Society’s goal of promoting the awareness of the flavours and diversity of beer. An application form for funding can be found on the SOBA website. Tom Coleman replaced Neale Towers as Treasurer this year and has been doing a great job of keeping things up to date. Improvements in the way payments are processed through the new membership system has made the Treasurer job a little easier as well.
The SOBA website has been redeveloped this year and now receives over 1,000 unique visitors each month spending an average of 3 minutes on the site and viewing 3.9 pages per visit. The website and the SOBA Facebook page have been useful in communicating SOBA news and events to members. The merchandise section on the website has allowed us to sell SOBA t-shirts, caps and hats and festival tickets. We have recently added a coupon code to the web store that gives SOBA members a $10 discount on the total cart purchase. The website is available for anyone wanting to blog about beer or submit news.
This year I have been amazed at the increase in the range and variety of craft beer available. Sure, I think we’re somewhat spoilt here in Wellington with new breweries Garage Project and Parrot Dog starting up and new labels like Funk Estate popping up regularly to add to existing brands such as Tuatara and Yeastie Boys. I’m also heartened when I hear that a new SOBA group started recently in Taranaki has convinced one of the local bars to start stocking the fantastic local beers from Mikes and Liberty. It’s a sign of the times. Recent reports of a drop in overall beer consumption in New Zealand but an increase in consumption of quality craft beers is an indication that SOBA is succeeding in its goals.
The support we receive from craft beer friendly bars has continued to grow in the last year. Wellington bars offering discounts on presentation of the SOBA membership card include Hashigo Zake, The Malthouse, Fork and Brewer, Little Beer Quarter, The Tap Haus and Bru Haus.
So what does the future hold for SOBA?
This week we are likely to see changes to the laws governing the sale of alcohol with the Alcohol Reform Bill before parliament. Changes may see the purchase age split between 18 and 20 for on and off-licences respectively. Other changes may increase the power of territorial authorities in determining policies relating to the sale and consumption of alcohol. Auckland Mayor Len Brown has already discussed the option of banning the sale of single bottles of beer and RTDs from bottle stores.
Increasingly, it seems, we hear of the dangers of alcohol in the media. You may have heard but apparently we have a binge drinking culture in New Zealand. The Law Commission’s issues paper Alcohol In Our Lives was a well considered review of the problems New Zealanders face with Alcohol. However as the introduction to this paper says “The use of alcohol in moderation has many positive features. It promotes sociability, friendship, entertainment, fun, relaxation and many things that New Zealanders enjoy.”
I think it is important that SOBA continue to advocate the great qualities of finely crafted beers and for those aspects that we all enjoy when drinking beer in moderation. To promote the awareness of beer in all its flavour and diversity. Towards achieving these goals and increasing our membership we have developed a new poster campaign called “Now that’s crafty”. The craft themed posters incorporate messages of enjoying beer in moderation such as “slow down, taste the beer”, “take time to smell the hops”, “stop drinking, start tasting” and “hops sweet hops”. These messages are combined with our call to action for people to join SOBA – Champions of finely crafted, flavourful beers.
We have a number of changes on the committee for the upcoming year. I am standing down from the President’s role and also from the committee to concentrate on my own business. Also leaving the committee this year are our hard working secretary Greig McGill, Kate Jordan and Kieran Haslett-Moore. I wish the new committee members all the best and hope that you treat the role of committee member as a responsibility not as a privilege.
Thank you all for your support during the last year and I look forward to having a beer with you some time. Thanks for attending this morning’s AGM and if you’re heading on to Beervana later I hope you enjoy a few finely crafted flavourful beers.