Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Last Toast - The Final Capital Times Column

I have reflected several times recently about how beer has changed in New Zealand over the last two or three decades, and for this my final column I’m going to do that again. In 1996 brewers like Pink Elephant , Whitecliff’s, Emerson’s, and Sunshine were just starting to see their beers sell beyond their cellar doors. Wellington was shaping up to be a potential market for these ‘weird and wacky’ beers that had discernible flavours and aromas. However, we were a long way from where the Craft Beer Capital is today. Most of the beer consumed at the time was neither thought about nor, if I am honest, worth thinking about.  The extent to which that has changed and is still changing is staggering. Wine culture was in a state of heady growth with wine columns appearing in newspapers up and down the land, while it was accepted by publishers and editors that there was nothing worth writing about beer and no one wanting to read it. It was into this environment that the Capital Times made the decision to start a beer column.  One simple decision that along with pioneering bars like Bodega, The Malthouse and Tupelo and retailers like Regional Wines laid the foundations for the beer crazy city we live in today.  The Ale and Arty column was the first of its kind in New Zealand and now 17 years later is New Zealand’s oldest. Between Geoff Griggs, Aaron Watson and myself we have played a part in educating about, and advocating for, good beer in this town.  Hopefully we have managed to entertain as well. I’m proud of the part I have played. It has been a fantastic  4 years, and while sometimes it has been hard finding the time in a busy life to write each week, it has never been hard to come up with things to write about. In many ways my part of the last 17 years has been the easiest because the beer world is now so active that there is far too much going on to cover in one weekly column.  The trick has been in deciding what has to be left out rather than struggling to find something to write about. For me the future is exciting. I am increasingly taking a role in producing beers rather than just writing about them and soon I hope to be helping to spread good beer up the coast from Wellington with a new venture in Kapiti. Anyone wanting to continue reading my thoughts on beer can follow me on twitter: @southstarbrew.
Finally I would like to propose a toast, firstly to Alison and John for having the vision to commission this column when no one else would, secondly to the brewers who toil away making beers that are not only worth drinking but also worth thinking and writing about, thirdly to Geoff Griggs and Aaron Watson 17 years is a big achievement,  one we should be proud of, and finally to you the drinker and reader , without the demand you create for flavourful and characterful beer our social and gastronomic culture would be all the poorer! Cheers! Over and Out.