From Drinker to Brewer
Beer festivals are, without a doubt, one of the smartest happenings invented.
While more fun than car shows - you do not get to drive the cars, but you do drink the beer - they are on par with music festivals; you get to soak in the beautiful work of people who are usually underpaid for what they do.
Having racked up as many beer festival attendances than I can count on two hands, I am somewhat qualified - badly, expertly, or somewhere between those two - to give an opinion on them.
Handily, I have one.
I believe there are three broad kinds of beer festivals: The KISS, The Big Bang, and The Inbetweener.
There are moments in your life when you realise just what is wrong with the world.
I just never thought a beer would provide one of those moments.
Apparently sold in Chinese restaurants and Asian grocers in New Zealand, I have never seen it.
So when a colleague went to China for a couple weeks, they kindly agreed to bring a bottle back for me.
Terribly-named pop-punk group Elemeno P once sang, "absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I doubt it".
But an experience I have had during the past two weeks shows that whiny vocalist, who always sounded like his voice box was in his nostrils instead of his throat, was wrong.
I did not have a beer for two weeks. Not by chance, but by choice.
There was no reason to panic. I did not need my friends to whip up an intervention banner before confronting me about my drinking habits.
Instead there was a desire to have time away from it; ignore it; reset my relationship with it.
There are days when I wish all I did for a crust was drink beer and write about it.
With new brewing companies popping up across the country, I would never be short of a new beer to try or a story to tell about a new commercial brewer.
Because, sometimes, the news dries up.
Quite often in my life there seems to be no news to report on, especially on a particularly slow weekend shift.
It is a problem all journalists have, and is why they all love the Official Information Act.
It was the Melbourne Cup all over again; I may as well flush $20 down the drain the first Tuesday of every November since I turned 18*.
The day after Townshend Brewing was announced as the champion brewery at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand awards, bottle stores and bars were quick to show off their stocks of Martin Townshend's ales and lagers.
Naturally, people are going to want to get their hands on some of the best beers in the country. He is likely to see good business for the next few weeks, so it was great to see him back on the bottling line the day after his victory.
The result has me thinking of some of the first Townshend beers I enjoyed, all in 2011: JCIPA on a can't-beat-Wellington-on-a-good-day summer's afternoon; pint upon pint of the David Tua-like No.9 stout (a picayune 4 per cent in stature, but packing a flavour punch as big as the boxer's left hook) during the kind of storm the capital is unfairly stigmatised for; my inaugural introduction to and interview of Stu McKinlay at The Malthouse while quaffing the sessionable Cathcarts NTA.
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