A bad story hides a good point

Stuff.co.nz headline (4 December 2017)
Not news — for several different reasons

Sometimes, being nearly right is actually worse than being completely wrong. A story headlined Higher Alcohol Levels In Craft Beer Catching Drivers Out was published yesterday, and proved to be an instructively terrible example of this. It’s broadly in the ‘single out beer to be the bad guy in a story about booze in general’ genre, but goes an extra step and zeroes in on “craft beer” for some speculative shaming. Frustratingly, they built their pile of wrongness incredibly close to an important point, which they just wound up burying in crap.

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Tuatara Pilsner’s new origin story

Tuatara 'Mot Eureka' (Pōneke, 26 October 2017)
Tuatara Pilsner — I still can’t quite bring myself to say the other name

I had three beers yesterday — all of them pilsners and two of them that one right there from Tuatara. Shortly before they were bought out by DB / Heineken, they changed its name to ‘Mot Eureka’ and gave it a new look. I’m not at all a fan of either move,1 but it was still tasting lovely and it was nice to get reacquainted with what once was the default beer of Wellington.2 I couldn’t help notice, though, that the new blurb on the label was complete bullshit and shamelessly revisionist nonsense.

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Medals and math — batting averages at the beer awards

Mural detail (Garage Project, 10 October 2017)
Friendly competition? (Detail from the mural at Garage Project, the new Champion Brewery)

The latest round of the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards1 were announced this weekend and this year they’ve given us more data than usual to play with. For the first time, the Guild has released information on what was entered, as opposed to just telling us who won, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m the kind of nerd who watches the Olympics and wants a per-capita column on the medal tally. Raw results are one thing, but I’m curious well you did relative to how hard you tried. And now, after an hour or so of strangely-enjoyable data entry and spreadsheeting,2 I know.

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This thing, and other things

Bucketlamps, etc. (Golding's Free Dive, early 2017)
Vaguely-related things (a metaphor, and the design scheme at work)

Seven years ago, I first hit Publish on this thing. The frequency at which I’ve done so, since, has oscillated wildly1 ― as have my reasons for doing so.  After burning out a bit at university, writing about beer was originally a distraction from “more serious” topics ― but that only lasts as long as it takes you to notice how all your favourite “big things” in philosophy more-generally just show up in beer, anyway: the fact that bullshit2 and hypocrisy are everywhere, that most bright lines of classification fall apart on closer inspection, etc., etc.. The parallels are inevitable: our species has been making this stuff for thousands of years, so everything weird or wonderful or woeful about us is reflected in it, and vice versa.

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Just a phase ― on haze’s murky history, and crazes in general

'Solace in the Wind' on the Wellington Waterfront (20 February, 2014)
And if you gaze long into the haze, the haze also gazes into you…

This piece first appeared in the August 2017 edition of SOBA’s magazine, The Pursuit of Hoppiness ― a thing which has evolved a lot recently and spawned a nicely-maintained online incarnation, among other improvements. I’ve seen that version of this post handed around a bit already, but I wanted to also share it here (as I have done with other pieces). Overtly hazy beers remain a hot-button topic (as you may already have noticed), but I think the whole thing is most useful as a microcosm for how we think about history and fashion and matters of taste overall…

As I sit down to write this, I’m finishing off a glass of some newfangled hazy beer from an “independent” brewery not far from here. It’s distinctly murky, which blunts its otherwise-lovely golden colour but it’s got a nice amount of flavour without too much bitterness. I could see myself getting used to it. “Sparkling Ale”, they call it. From a Coopers Brewery in Adelaide, founded as recently as 1862! That’s basically just yesterday, given that we humans have been making beer for some 7,0001 years…

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‘Too Much…’ is never enough

Author (probably) not pictured. (Taken from here.)

So. A wild satirist appeared, and is proving super effective. We haven’t really had one around here before, and I don’t know what good deeds we did to deserve Too Much To Beer as our first. It’s entertaining and incisive stuff, doing what all the best satire strives to do when it gets up in the morning: highlighting absurd truths and using humour to make a point worth making. As of right now, its creator is still anonymous and ― despite being a naturally inquisitive sort ― I’d like them to stay that way.

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“A bar is just a church where they serve beer…”

The tradition red-neon sign at Golding's
A good sign

The “beer community” is frequently celebrated as a special thing and one of the reasons this is a rewarding hobby to have, and a nice industry to work in. And that, broadly speaking,1 is right and true. But since switching back to bartending I’ve been struck more and more by the distinct — although obviously overlapping — nature of bar culture and the nice ways that a good one can have a community all of its own. The title here comes from an excellent Jim White song2 that gets stuck in my head whenever I’m pondering this and marvelling at the myriad ways that people use the bar to share little moments of celebration or of solidarity or anything in between, including weirdly heartwarming mundanity — and: beer.

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Tastings and ramblings and whatnot