Why I don't drink Tui

22:24, Dec 09 2012

I feel I need to clear up my dear editor's comments from Friday's paper. For those who didn't see, he said anyone who sees me around should buy me a pint - something I fully support. Buy me any beer, the dear editor said, "anything but Tui"


Now I'm not a beer snob. Sure, I love to drink some pretty crazy stuff that would destroy the bank balance if it only came in a 12-pack. But at the same time, I'll happily drink a chilled-out lager or a pint of whatever is on tap at any Palmerston North bar (which is usually nothing exciting).

But I do not drink Tui. Or, at least, buy it. Not because of the taste (I'm getting to that), but because it's trying to be something it isn't.

It all comes down to four words: east, India, pale, and ale. On their own, I wouldn't care. But reading them on a bottle of Tui makes me angry. Because it's simply not true. Tui is not east India pale ale. Heck, it's not even ale. And it all comes down to yeast. 

Beer, like wine, can be divided into two camps. While wine has red and white, beer has ale and lager. Ales are made with yeasts which eat sugar fast and like to stay warm, while lagers are made with yeast which like to stay cool and aren't as much of a glutton with their sugar. The two different yeasts impart different flavours into beer and, ultimately, decide the basic style - lager or ale.

Tui, once upon a time, was probably ale. However, as time went on it morphed into one of the country's only unique beer styles - New Zealand draught. 

New Zealand draught melds together the sweetness of ales and the clean finish lager yeast gives. They're sweet because the brewers add a boatload of sugar to sweeten them up, a practice that came about after World War II to help save money. 

And Tui is a New Zealand draught. As recently as 2011, it took home the award for best New Zealand draught at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand awards.

So, it's proven to not be ale. But calls itself one anyway. Which is why I don't drink it.

But for the sake of science, I had one over the weekend. It was given to me by a friend, so I didn't have to part with money for it. That made things slightly easier. If my notes are anything to go by, I don't think I've been missing out on much.

Putting a label on something doesn't make it that thing. Putting feathers on a pig won't turn it into a chicken. Putting icing on a steak won't make it a cake. Calling myself a brewer doesn't mean I am one. Putting the words "east India pale ale" on a can of lager won't magically turn it into ale.

Tui: east India pale ale. Yeah right.

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