Editorial: Winter 2009

NickKia ora and welcome aboard the South Island special! This edition unashamedly profiles the latest craft brewing activity in the Marlbourough Region, focuses on where to get a decent pint in the City of Dunedin and features Martin Bennett, founder of the Twisted Hop Microbrewery in Christchurch and current Brewers Guild Executive Committee member, sitting in our Celebrity
There’s also a low-down on Nelson’s newest free-house – called The Free House (!) – a great new addition to the vibrant pub scene in the Tasman area and even our 5 Minute Beer Quiz is themed around the southern half of Aotearoa.

So does this mean the craft beer scene is all quiet from Wellington northwards? Well, although the current economic climate may be challenging, the beer market has traditionally survived well during times of recession and there is certainly plenty of activity from the likes of Croucher, with their new bar in Rotorua (more on this in the next edition), Whitecliffs, with their re-branding and new mini-keg dispense systems and of course, Epic, with their launch of 500ml bottles and the powers of evil continuing to fight the powers of good in the form of the re-launched Armageddon IPA.

However, what many in SOBA currently feel is a serious threat to the potential growth of the craft beer market comes in the form of proposed government intervention over the sale of liquor. An economic analysis by Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL) focusing on estimating the costs to society and government of harmful use of alcohol, was commissioned by the Ministry of Health in March of this year, with a view to providing up-to-date cost estimates to inform policy development. One proposal from the Report suggests a blanket increase in excise on alcohol, which could prove extremely harmful for the smaller brewers in the current climate.
A response to the Report, claiming that its financial arguments are fundamentally flawed, has been prepared as a Working Paper by the University of Canterbury. Entitled ‘The Price of Everything, The Value of Nothing’ it provides a detailed, if slightly heavy read and can be found here.

Meantime, if you haven’t yet joined SOBA, now is an ideal time, with BrewNZ and Beervana 2009 just around the corner. Card holding members will be able to purchase heavily discounted entry tickets for the Awards Dinner, which is being staged on Thursday 27th August at The Duxton Hotel in Wellington. See page 7 for more information.

Finally, a confession! Being a keen hunter, I have broken my promise to boycott DB products and outlets by taking the Monteith’s Beer & Wild Food Challenge at my local Paremata Brewery Bar. Their dish, comprising breast of wild duck on a moi moi mash with pikopiko plus diced smoked eel parcels was very good, but the match with their Celtic just didn’t hit the mark. Now, if the available beer was a guest ale in the form of Invercargill Smokin’ Bishop, well, that would have been a corking match and it might just have tempted me to drink there a bit more often to boot.

Nick Page, Editor

Back to The Pursuit of Hoppiness: Winter 2009

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