Beer Diary Podcast s02e09: 2012 Year in Review

Back for a second ‘Year in Review’ and in moderate danger of starting a tradition, we sit down for a trio of appropriate beers and ponder 2012; a year full of great beers, big beer-related news, and mercifully few apocalypses. We stick pretty-much to last year’s categories (such as we had); I offer a few suggestions for things to make sure you’re reading / watching / using, and then get down to pondering what 2012 might go down in beer history as the Year Of, before reminiscing on our beers of the year.

As always, a direct download is available, there’s a podcast-specific RSS feed, and you should be able to get us on iTunesGeorge and myself can also both be reached on the Twitterthing, or you can leave comments here or on the Bookface.

— Show notes:

  • (0.50) We did indeed do this last year.
  • (1.40) And the full ramble on awards was slightly before that.
  • (2.40) Beer of the Week #1: Liberty ‘Alpha Dogg’. Jo sat down with us (and Mike) for s02e03. Mike’s new brewery now has a name, too; Panhead Custom Ales. Inexcusably, and uncharacteristically, I’m lacking photos for a bunch of beers that’ll get mentioned in this episode, including our Beers of the Week. Apologies for that; I’ll attempt to re-solidify my nerdy camera habit.
  • (6.20) The combination of “buttery”, “not bitter” and “rosé” probably gets George removed from Jo’s Christmas Card List. But he really did like Alpha Dogg.
  • (8.00) Blog of the Year: Jono Galuszka’s ‘From Drinker to Brewer’ (the pre-Newspaperisation blog version is still online, and worth a trawl through the archives), with very-honourable-indeed mentions for Alice Galletly’s ‘Beer for a Year’ and Greig McGill’Awkward Beer Reviews. With heavy Liberty / Beer of the Week #1 connections all round, happily enough. And if you don’t get the My Drunk Kitchen reference, you need to immediately also add Hannah Hart to your Twittermachine and/or Suit of Distracting Bookmarks.
  • (12.40) Website of the Year: Untappd (appified interfaces are available, naturally, for iOS and Android), which does indeed make a cameo appearance in one particular A.B.R. episode. I’m on there with the same underscored handle as I had to use on Twitter (he says, cursing his very-common name). I don’t join in the numerical / bottlecappy ratings for various philosophical reasons, but they’ve recently confirmed that you don’t muck up the statistics if you abstain. So all good.
  • (16.10) 2012, Year of the x. Mainstreaming, says George; Pretender, says Phil — in a nice coincidence, and a fitting difference-in-approach/temperament. Boundary Road and Crafty Beggars are obviously the highest-profile examples, from the Big Faking Small end of the spectrum. The Small Faking Existence, or Small-to-Medium Fudging Origin end is more depressing, blunting my usual impulse to name and shame. ‘Dr. Hops’ is a bleak example of the former — although, I’m mortified to report (given my praise for them on this point), Yeastie Boys have begun a determined back-sliding on the giving of credit where due; it turns out that mentions of Steve Nally and/or Invercargill are slowly being expunged from their labels. Fudging Origin is just weird, too; Liberty aren’t the only ones to do it, but I just don’t understand why it seems like an option worth taking. I might have to compile a Wall Of Shame, just for completeness. I’ll have to do a full post on ‘Hancock & Co.’, too, and what a contemptible pile of bullshit they are — while arrogantly claiming the “NZBeer” Twitter handle, for fuck’s sake.
  • (29.20) Beer of the Week #2: Yeastie Boys ‘Gunnamatta’. There were a number of ill-timed and unfortunate mis-steps at Invercargill over the past few months, which combined to cause (among other things) the Great Yeastie Drought of 2012-2013 — Stu’s post explaining which is a masterpiece of honesty and fair dealing, which either compensates for their apparent creeping habit of Origin Fudging, or puts it in enragingly stark relief (I can’t decide which).
  • (31.10) CNNNN did some hiliariously brutal man-on-the-street stuff on this.
  • (33.20) As noted above, the shortage continued, and was caused by reasons deeper than I realised at the time. We’re nearly out of the woods, though.
  • (34.10) Beer of the Year, and our criteria confusingly clarified.
  • (36.45) The ‘karaoke for the deaf’ version of ‘Torn’ still cracks me up.
  • (36.50) Phil’s (work) Beer of the Year: Garage Project ‘Day of the Dead’.
  • (38.20) Phil’s (non-work) Beer of the Year: Afterwork pints; including, among others, Stone & Wood ‘Pacific Ale’, ParrotDog ‘FlaxenFeather’, Three Boys Golden Ale, Moo Brew Pilsner, Garage Project ‘Hāpi Daze’, Hallertau Saison, and (once I remember it, a little later in the episode), Yeastie Boys ‘Golden Perch’. Only very broadly ‘of a kind’, but all just absolutely lovely, relaxing beers.
  • (40.30) Pete Mitcham’s ‘When only the rest will do’ is excellent.
  • (41.40) George’s Beer of the Year: Yeastie Boys ‘Gunnamatta’.
  • (42.50) Phil’s Glass of Beer of the Year: Liberty ‘Rennals Towards Muriwai’, a multiply-gorgeous thing, for oodles of both inherent and circumstantial reasons.
  • (47.40) George’s Glass of Beer of the Year: a specific Yeastie Boys ‘Gunnamatta’. I mentioned my own Beach Gunnamattas back when referencing my entry for the ‘Desert Island Beers’ series, and the mandatory Paul Kelly track is here, for easy re-playing.
  • (50.30) Honourable G.O.B.O.T.Y. mentions: Hallertau ‘Funkonnay’, what a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster beer should taste like. And Bright Brewery’s ‘Resistance Red’ and/or Feral’s ‘Watermelon Warhead’ from GABS, or perhaps one of the beers I had back at the beloved Wig & Pen.
  • (55.10) Beer of the Week #3: Emerson’s ‘JP’ 2012. In our last episode, we talked about The Acquisition (he says, in a way that makes him want to pronounce the capital letters like Australians do when talking about their Constitutional crisis as “The Dismissal”). I think I’ve had all the JPs (the “Js-P”?) over the years; the first one in my Diary is from the dim-dark recesses of 2008.
  • (56.55) Honourable mentions, more generally: Renaissance’s ‘Great Punkin”, which made up for the badly-flavoured beers George endured in the U.S., and Garage Project ‘Ziggy’s Carrot Cake Ale’, which caused fire-hazard log-jam queues at Beervana.
  • (1.01.30) Now I can’t remember the name of the tied house which uses “free house” in its signage. Hopefully a commenter can help, since it does so nicely tie the ‘Year of the x’ themes from this year and last together.
  • (1.03.00) Fork & Brewer’s pilsner is a very decent afterwork pint, but also a sad case in marketing; the brewer(s?) made a tasty North-German-esque dry pilsner but then the Overbosses handed naming duties over to the ad agency they work with. On seeing “pilsner”, reading Wikipedia and/or not thinking very hard (or asking the beer’s creator many/any questions), they named it “Bohemian Hipster”, which is both a) boringly predictable and b) off by about 600 km.
  • (1.05.00) On the Beer List: Wil Wheaton. Happily, in the intervening time between recording and posting, I think I’ve figured out just the beer to send him. I shall endeavour to actually get it in the post as soon as I’m back at work next week. He’s totally worth following on Twitter, is active on the aforementioned Untappd, and runs the ‘Tabletop’ show on Felicia Day‘s awesome Geek & Sundry YouTube channel — and is, therefore, Our Kind Of Geek very many times over.
  • (1.08.15) Badass Digest is indeed a cornucopia of awesome things.
  • (1.09.00) ‘Yumyum Beersies’ (or a variation thereon) has shown up in several comics by The Oatmeal, most recently in a rather-on-the-money one about Making Things For The Web — parts of which ring very loud bells, for me.
  • (1.09.30) It was one thousand eight hundred (and ten) years ago, if we assume by “twenty-three” I meant ‘203’; clearly my brain was multiply-broken, here.
  • (1.09.40) Cue the music: ‘Shopping for Explosives’, by The Coconut Monkeyrocket. Audio editing done in Audacity. Habitual thanks to both.
The new Liberty range
The new Liberty range
Dr. Hops taking credit
‘Dr. Hops’ taking credit
Lake Taupo Gunnamatta
Lake Taupo Gunnamatta
Stone & Wood 'Pacific Ale'
Stone & Wood ‘Pacific Ale’
Hallertau 'Funkonnay'
Hallertau ‘Funkonnay’
A beer at the Wig & Pen
A beer at the Wig & Pen

14 thoughts on “Beer Diary Podcast s02e09: 2012 Year in Review”

    1. That’s the one! I have such useful commenters;1 I can see why people get addicted to the joys of the lazyweb. Freeman & Grey is indeed a Lion tied house, despite having “freehouse” right there on the building and in the logo as if words didn’t have meanings, the shitbags.

      1: Well, most of the time, he says, recalling the Moa IPO post. (But hey, that muppet at least gave me cause to put a footnote in a comment for the first time.)

  1. Thanks for the shout-out Phil. I really should make the Awkward Beer Reviews into something resembling a cohesive channel, or wrap them in bloggery, or something. I’m not lazy, just busy, I swear! 😉 I am trying to be a less aggravating libertarian too. Not less libertarian. Just less aggravating about it. Also, spot on about the origin fakery on bottles. I can think of one reason for doing so though – split batches. I have a feeling Joe does this – some brewed at Liberty, some at Tuatara, but a costly pain to print two lots of labels for the same beer. No dishonest intent, and unless there was an issue with quality, it’s not really a problem for the consumer either. Still, a point well made. If you ever see that from Brewaucracy, I hope you lay some smack down on me for it.

  2. I disagree totally with the labelling thing.

    It’s actually quite costly for a small contract brewer to state on the label where it is going to be brewed, given that many of them won’t be in a position to know that their 10,000 labels will all end up being brewed at the same place.

    Our NZ labels, besides the Majesty series (which always mention Invercargill) purposely don’t state where the beer is brewed in case we need to brew a batch or two somewhere else… something that has obviously been at the forefront of our minds over the last couple of months. Our address is a PO Box, so we don’t get people turning up to either of our houses looking for a brewery tour (in the future, I think we’ll just use our website address, as the regulations just as for an “address”).

    Our USA labels originally had “Brewed and Bottled by the Yeastie Boys in Invercargill, New Zealand” (US labelling requirements are a nightmare, so we took the advice of our importer on almost everything). As a brewer, who is not brewing the beer in that bottle, I was rather uncomfortable with this, so they now state “Brewed and Bottled in Invercargill” but we’ll move to having these simply state “Brewed in New Zealand” (or similar) in the future.

    I believe Joe might be brewing his beers at another location in the reasonably near future, which makes it a pretty smart idea to get them a little more generic.

    Honesty is great and it is something we are always keen to maintain but, sometimes, it’s actually a better decision to be more flexible and not state everything so explicitly. That’s probably why so few breweries state hop or malt varieties etc on their labels – what if you have to change? In the end, I only think a very small group of people care and it’s easy enough to direct those people to a website that doesn’t incur direct costs to change (if you were, for arguments sake, going to change from 100% production at Brewery A to 100% at Brewery B… or a split between the two).

    I don’t think there is any intention to deceive from the small contract brewers you mention in the podcast.

    1. I don’t think there’s any intention to deceive in Yeastie Boys, 8 Wired, Croucher, Liberty or any of the breweries of that tier who have (if memory serves; I don’t mean to defame if I’ve got my internal wires crossed) played a little loose with their origin labelling. I do think they grossly underestimate how many people do actually care (he says, speaking as a bartender who fielded approximately one and a half bajillion questions on this front), and I just don’t understand the tactics, given the relative ease of playing it completely straight.

      If you really were unsure where future production would take place, you’d just lower the quantities of labels you were ordering at any given time to make sure you weren’t left with acres of obsolete labels. There are per-unit costs to be saved by ordering in ultra-bulk, sure, but they disappear into the margins compared to all the other relatively-inflexible costs, and I think that if you’re buying a few-cent per-label bargain by being untruthful then you’re missing a rather lovely forest for some very-anemic trees. Brewing is also a usefully long-run game, here; a beer takes weeks to emerge and need labelling after it’s been brewed, so there’s oodles of time to commission accurate labels.

      Personally, I think it’s worth the (very minor) extra effort and the (very moderate) extra expense. There’s a lot of room to move between lacking a positive intent to deceive and just lacking the will do do a good thing for its own sake; I want to nudge people into thinking that it’s worth doing. (Doubtless in my usual too-absolutist and too-grumpy way.)

      But there’s no such wiggle-room for entirely on-paper operations like “Dr. Hops” and whoever contract-brewed that “Silverfern” lager-thing at Tuatara recently. Having no other existence, but still deploying “brewed by” language, what else could they mean? (But I see that Greig’s asked a question specifically on them, below, so maybe that part of the discussion should continue down there.)

      1. Been meaning to reply to this for ages because, as always, I have plenty to say… and I will get back on the main subject soon. But first I must make a point of fact. I considered myself to be here defending “others” until I read through the show notes properly. There appears to be something of an accusation that Yeastie Boys (that is Sam and I) have changed the way we do business or the way we portray what or who we are. I’m not sure where this came from but I will say that:

        * our 330ml labels have never stated where the beer was brewed or who brewed it… and for reasons alluded to above (which I’ll go into in another reply soon), will not do so in the foreseeable future.
        * our 750ml bottles, one-offs, always state that the beer was brewed at Invercargill and sometimes mention Steve Nally and/or his team (or family)
        * we have always been the biggest promoters of contract brewing and it’s benefits for both parties… others are far more stand-offish about it but I’m happy as long as what is inside the bottle is great!
        * I love how passionate you guys are about this. We should do a podcast where we argue about it!!

        1. Allow me to once again scapegoat my useless memory on that, then. Which does weirdly mean that I have to retract my complaint of a change in Yeastie Boy policy — but also retract all the praise I’ve given for the mentions / references I’d mistakenly thought were there. The mentions on the 750s are always really nicely done, and maybe I was just projecting them onto the rest of the range in my broken brain — in my Malthouse days, I did overwhelmingly drink 750ml bottles of Yeastie Boys stuff; the “regular range” was more-regularly on tap, obviously.

          I was also probably projecting the other thing that you guys have always done really well — which is the advocacy / openness about contract brewing in general that you’re rightly proud of, above. But I guess that’s just one more reason why I want companies like yours to bite the (minor!) logistical-annoyance bullet and get proper origin statements on everything…

          And yeah, we’d love to have you on the Pod, for that conversation and many others. I’ve been saving a few bottles of beer just for the occasion, in fact…

  3. On a less argumentative note, I’m incredibly flattered by the kind words you have both had for Gunnamatta. I laughed at the best film / best director comment (and then felt typically embarrassed by the comparison, as tongue in cheek as it was… accepting praise doesn’t come that easy for us, though we love heaping it on the team at Invercargill).

    In regards to the recipe… we tweaked it very slightly, by bumping up the Caramunich a touch, after the first version (tap only in NZ and at GABS) but have kept it the same for every subsequent batch. There will be some variability based on how the brew day and fermentation go, and for seasonal changes or freshness of the ingredients, but it is pretty much the same beer. So, other than Rex, which has never changed, it is our least tweaked beer.

    And, lastly, as you’ve probably realised… I’m as big a fan of the show as you guys are of the beer!

  4. I particularly enjoyed (and agreed with) your chat about ‘after work pints’ – the sessionable 4-5%er seems to hit the mark. Something delicious and with drinkability, rather than a beer that must be interrogated. Nor a beer that distracts from the conversation – as much as I like talking about beer, no beer should encourage the beer bore. While I love big and challenging beers as much as the next beer nerd, they too often dominate the conversation, both literally in the pub, and figuratively in our beer culture. More session beers please brewers!

    I think I am right in assuming you have not (yet) visited the UK? I hope you get the chance, you will be in session beer heaven – the Brits do it those better than anyone, including the culture of ‘after work pints’. Always plural.

    1. I finally caved and got a second fridge at home, too — a usefully-big second-hand one from work, with most of the internals stripped out so that it could be home to a 50L fermenter from the pilot kit. Trebling my cold storage space has allowed me to get back into having reliable ‘fridge beers’ in the, you know, fridge and has thereby improved my return home from work immensely.

  5. Stu: What do you think of the Dr. Hops example? I wasn’t impressed much by the beer, and even less by the complete lack of any “real” identity behind the brand. It’s just branding in search of a beer to me. I say this without any knowledge of whoever is behind Dr. Hops, but then they seem to go to great lengths (the wilfully content-free website, for example) to obscure any hint of real people.

    I really hope I’m wrong, and whover it is is a great beer person who has just read one too many marketing books claiming branding is everything.

  6. I know a bit about it… probably too much to impartially comment. But I don’t see what you both see. I just see it as a bit of fun (and the two bottles I have tried, probably around 6 months ago, maybe even more were very good – up there with the very best NZ pale ales I’ve tried).

    1. Hrm, care to point someone here who can comment? I’d be very interested to know the thinking behind the “facelessness”. I’ve had three bottles now, all tasting very tired, one quite oxidised. Just checked ratebeer though, and of two reviews, both comment on the bright hops, so it’s possible I’ve been very unlucky.

      1. It looks – from the companies register and a (rather fawning) review on Brew Nation – to be the work of one Nicky Claridge, a former wine-industry person. Maybe I should ping @hellodrhops on the Twitter and invite them to comment on their plan, but yeah, the brand-first / clumsy-backstoried / stealth-contract nature of it turned me off, hugely. I only tried the beer itself once – so far – and found it pretty meh, and certainly not worth the brandwank.

Have at it: