This past weekend, the local — i.e., Wellington, but also New Zealand more generally — beer community exported one of its stalwarts, Stu McKinlay,1 best-known as a founder and large fraction of the Yeastie Boys. I first met him back in my Malthouse bartending days, at the debut of Pot Kettle Black, and it’s been excellent knowing him since. He was an early giver-of-encouraging-nudges to this very Beer Diary project, is officially a Friend Of The Show, and can frequently be found here disproving the old maxim of Don’t Read The Comments. I’m very much on board with his broader philosophies of beer; our disagreements are the quibbling-at-the-margins that happen among comrades. You never worry that he’s an opportunist, an interloping con-man, or anything other than a True Believer — he’s a proper mensch.
After this January’s massively-successful crowdfunding push (no need for a disclaimer, here; I’m not among their new investors), Stu’s off to arrange for the UK-based production and from-there distribution of their beers, starting with Gunnamatta and Pot Kettle Black. Contract brewers from day one — with no pretensions to have or intentions to build a “bricks and mortar” HQ — they’ve found themselves freer to sidestep some of the annoying and complicated business of exporting and simply produce beer closer to its intended market. I find this kind of ‘Distributed Republic’2 model really appealing, not least because it lessens the shipping-around of masses of water and packaging materials. And this is altogether a more-promising example of the phenomenon: morally better than Stone’s recent and rather-disingenuous ‘campaign’3 to build breweries on the far U.S. coast and in Europe, and more loud-and-proud than ParrotDog and Panhead’s current contracting of keg beer in Melbourne for Australian consumption.
So here’s to good people making good money from good beer. And to a homegrown business expanding out into the world in a new, interesting and authentic way — not by resorting to distasteful nonsense,4 nor by subsuming itself within an existing conglomerate.5 I hope locals will raise a glass of beer (or a cup of tea, or a dram of whisky, since they’d all be appropriate)6 to toast their progress and speed Stu on his way. Please do look after him for us, Englishpersons and Other Antipodeans. I’m sure you’ll enjoy his company — in both senses of the word.
1: That’s him in the red pants, above, despite the title of this post, which just occurred to me while I was doing the dishes and wouldn’t get out of my brain until I wrote it down. It seemed vaguely punny and fitting for a celebrated colour-blocker moving to the other side of the world. ↑
2: To borrow a phrase / idea I’m most familiar with via Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash and Diamond Age — though I’m not madly keen on the association it has with libertarian techbros, to say the least. ↑
3: A story which went down mid-last-year, while I was on De Facto Hiatus and it was too much of a clusterfuck for me to manage to say anything much constructive. Glen Humphries’ trio of posts — the cash grab, the screw-up, and the cover-up — is excellent coverage from the time. ↑
4: By now, surely, you know who I mean. ↑
5: à la Emerson’s, of course, most recently and locally and notoriously. Not that that always goes badly, of course. In the next podcast episode — [SPOILER ALERT] — I have a few things to say about how well the past two years have turned out, for us and for them. ↑
6: Or anything you like. Or not at all. He’s a big advocate of the blessed subjectivity, so I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. ↑