About the author

Me, in Too Many Beers and/or Brandwank Whistleblower Witness Protection mode
Me, kind of (photo by Emma Dacey)

Born in 1979 and raised in suburban Wellington, I spent most of my adulthood in the City there, with a few years each in Canberra and Melbourne — before moving back to Melbourne at the end of 2018. I studied law and philosophy at university, and have worked as a bartender for so long I’ve genuinely lost count — initially it was a way to work around (and to pay for) my studies, before proving an excellent way to continue avoiding mornings, and then an introduction to the beer industry more specifically, leading to a few non-bartending roles on the side plus one stint further back behind the scenes in the industry at a brewery for a while.

Culturally I’ve always considered myself very much a mongrel cosmopolitan, but several years living in Australia has shown me how much being a Pākehā New Zealander underlies that. I’m fairly geekish about various fields (not just beer), much more of an asset to a pub trivia team than a weekend sport one. To me, now, the really interesting thing about the beer business and/or subculture is how there’s a bit of everything in it — science, sociology, and yes, law and philosophy — and you can use it as a way to look back out at the rest of everything; it is a world, and a mirror of worlds.1 These pages are my notes thereon (sometimes literally), and the observations from travels (usually metaphorically).

— Disclosures (or, if you like, credentials):

Naturally, the views expressed here are entirely my own. I’ve had numerous roles around the beer industry and while I’m definitely never spoken on behalf of any of them here, I can understand why laying out what I’ve done and when could be relevant. It used to annoy me when people with really gnarly conflicts of interest would regularly hold forth as if they were neutral observers, so I’m in the habit of over-compensating on this front. There’s less of a problem, now — but it’s for the sad reason that there’s less beer writing in general. So I’ve come to think of putting what is essentially my C.V. here as a way of showing my bona fides.

I’m currently bartending part-time at The Mill in Collingwood, having left Range Brewing’s Melbourne taproom shortly before it closed mid 2024, where I had worked the bar (and, for a few months, deliveries) since late 2021. Before that, I worked at The Catfish for a few years — though much of that was in and out of lockdowns and various levels of pandemic-induced restrictions (which destroyed the meaning of time and made it feel like both more and less) — and Stomping Ground’s Collingwood brewpub for a year. From over here in Melbourne, I’ve still been doing occasional label writing for Parrotdog back in Wellington, continuing a role I’ve had off-and-on since their ‘Rarebird’ series in 2015.

Before I left Wellington, I was working at Golding’s Free Dive (still pretty much my Platonic ideal of a bar-with-good-beer, as opposed to a “beer bar”, if you follow), as well as helping host tours and tastings through Craft Beer College (whose founder, Steph Coutts, has always been a real role model for championing the “beer is for everyone” mindset — including, crucially, the need for demanding better of our community). The above-mentioned stint at a brewery was three years as one of2 the first employees at Garage Project, a real whirlwind of a time, seeing (and, hopefully, helping) the place go from a 50L brewery, through two upgrades to putting down 2,000L batches several times a day and increasing production tenfold. I did a bit of everything (except brewing), but settled into distribution / logistics. Prior to that, I was a roster-filling backup bartender at Hashigo Zake (where I met the G.P. folks, in fact) for a little while after I’d left my long-running (July 2008 to April 2012) gig at The Malthouse (who at the time had ownership in common with Tuatara Brewery, for whom I ran a few in-store tastings). It was there that I really turned into a specialist beer bartender, taking over writing their legendary multi-page beer menu, discovering / inventing the art of Kegtris (making the best of a cramped coolroom space), starting to host tastings — and also finding an audience for this thing, the public version of the notebook people would often see me scrawling in as I sat at the end of the bar after a shift or (frequently) on a ‘day off’.

Obviously-commercial relationships aside, through my work and otherwise, I’m also on friendly terms with a good number of local brewers, bartenders and bar owners; it’s a mostly3 civilised and supportive industry to work in — even when you’re a part-time ‘critic’ of some vague kind.

— Contact:

  1. To borrow a common description of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. As I’m writing the latest version of this page, I’ve recently finished his biography (‘A life with footnotes’, fittingly, given where you’re reading this note) and have nearly finished the (excellent) new audiobook versions of the series.
  2. (Hi Rhonda!) I’ve previously described myself as the first non-founder employee, but while that’s true if you just count full-time work, my former comrade Rhonda was there before me, quickly also became full time, and is still there, keeping the books straight, so she deserves the gong.
  3. For what it’s worth, this used to say “very”, but I couldn’t leave that in place in good conscience, unfortunately.

Have at it:

Tastings and ramblings and whatnot