Kia ora and a belated welcome back! It’s been a while, but hopefully worth the wait! This edition of TPOH may be missing a couple of standard features this time around, but there’s plenty of topical articles and lots of mainly positive news on the craft beer and brewery front, which is what we all like to see.
A feeble excuse for late publication revolves around a four week trip to the UK in October, my first return visit in five years. On visiting several favourite old haunts plus a few new ones, one overriding theme kept recurring, this being how empty many of the pubs seemed to be. The combination of the recession, tough drink driving laws and discounted supermarket beer prices appeared to be hitting hard, especially in more rural areas. More closures look inevitable, meaning the focal point and a key part of the social fabric of many a community risks being lost forever.
On a happier note, the craft beer market in the UK continues to thrive, mirroring what we are seeing here in New Zealand, although personally I would like to have experienced a greater degree of experimentation in the product ranges on offer from some of the newer players. It was certainly reassuring to be served a beer in a measure that you knew was definitely either a pint or half pint, rather than the random volumes dispensed into the plethora of different shaped and sized Kiwi vessels. Don’t get me wrong here – there’s nothing wrong with being served a Maredsous Brune in a goblet – but do you really know, or care, what size measure you’re actually paying for?
SOBA’s membership continues to grow steadily and there is a mixture of both old and new faces on the new committee, who are all profiled on pages 4 and 5. It was pleasing to see such a good turnout at the AGM, which conveniently preceded the Saturday lunchtime session of Beervana at Wellington Town Hall. The tight schedule meant starting proceedings in the splendid Ilott Theatre, but finishing off upstairs in one of the Civic Suites, but a lot of issues were covered. Look out for the new SOBA website, due to be launched in the near future, which will include invaluable beer ratings and bar location sections. Stylish plastic membership cards are also on the way and the new ‘ex-officio’ post of Press & Publicity Officer is due to be created to ensure our organisation features regularly in the media.
On behalf of SOBA, I would like to take this opportunity of extending congratulations to Richard Emerson and all his team for scooping the New Zealand Champion Brewery Award at BrewNZ 2009. His brews featured strongly in all the major categories, with the final tally of three Best in Class Trophies, two Golds, two Silvers and one Bronze, meaning this year’s result was never in doubt.
On a more personal note, a special thank you to friend and fellow Brooklyn Northern United footballer, Brendon Mackenzie of Liberty Brewing, for supplying his BBB – Brendon’s Bahrain Bomber – for my preAll Whites match party in Pukerua Bay. His Kiwi take on an American Brown Ale went down a treat, pouring well from a handpump in the garage and with Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black – The Remix, plus the new Golden Ticket Exchange Student also turning up in riggers, we were all in full voice well before kick-off at the Cake Tin. Once more, the result was never in doubt.
Cheers & beers!
Nick Page, Editor