You can't beat Wellington on a good day.
That true, yet slightly cringe-worthy phrase is often uttered in the capital as its inhabitants attempt to justify their choice to live in a city often devoid of natural light.
The glorious summer of 2012/2013 momentarily tricked us into believing our lot was improving, but the brief interlude was shattered last summer when storms and chilly temperatures reminded us where we live.
When the sun is shining, however, there is little better than downing a beer outside.
Garden bars are the perfect place to do so and across the country there are/have been some excellent examples (look at the pretty pictures).
OPINION: Over the years politicians haven't been adverse to embracing a cold beer to win over voters.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has been photographed on several occasions chopping a giant stein, while you only have to google image search "Obama beer" to see how many times the leader of the free world has raised a pint.
In his first term John Key shared a green-bottle lager with Prince William. During his last three years of power he played beer pong at the Big Gay Out, drank some homebrew and helped open the new Tuatara brewery in Paraparaumu.
He was unafraid to don the ridiculous-looking 3D glasses that come with every bottle of their excellent imperial IPA Double Trouble, but then our leader is never afraid to put himself in compromising positions.
The leadup to this election has been like no other. Dirty politics and five eyes allegations have dominated, but the resulting furor has left little room for other important questions - namely about beer.
I'd agree with festival organiser David Cryer's comments that this year Beervana was better than ever.
Despite the Australian beers I wanted to try being somehow hijacked by Tasman Sea pirates, there was a great buzz around the event.
Good beer. Good food. Good people.
But nothing, of course, is perfect. At the start of the first session rabid beer fans keen for their first taste were forced to queue for up to an hour while they waited to load money onto the new fandangled digital bands used to pay for everything at the event.
They were slightly mollified by the session being extended as an apology, and that little hiccup aside things were great.
The Monteith's Brewing Company is about as West Coast as it gets.
Its roots go back as far as 1868 when Stewart Monteith bought into the old Phoenix Brewery in Reefton.
Like many coasters, Stewart was a savvy, resourceful sort of bloke. He survived the up and down fortunes of the early 1900s mining days by joining up with four other West Coast breweries to form Westland Brewing Co. in 1920.
Since 1969, the operation has been owned by Dominion Breweries, which renamed it Monteith's in 1990.
But all the while, the various incarnations of Monteith's have kept churning out barrel after barrel of no-nonsense bitter beers to keep those hearty coasters well-watered and satisfied.
At least, that was until Shane and I showed up in Greymouth a few months ago.
OPINION: Ladies, start your beer engines.
Recently I wrote this article, profiling some of the fantastic female brewers crafting brews across the country.
A few people were disappointed, telling me I was simply giving oxygen to the notion that females working in the beer industry was something unusual. A better idea would be to write nothing at all, they said.
But I wrote the article for the exact opposite reason, to try and show that things ARE becoming more equal. The fact is, until recently there haven't been a lot of women working in the beer industry or even drinking beer.
But that's changing, and it's a great thing.
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