Lion Brown lovers pledge lifetime loyalty

HANNAH FLEMING
Last updated 05:00 20/05/2013
Lion Brown Ambassadors
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ

BROWN'S BEST: The Lion Brown Ambassadors celebrate their annual awards at Western Park this weekend, dressed in mandatory brown formal wear.

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While gentlemen's clubs around the world seem to have fallen into a decline, there's one that looks set to stand the test of time.

They call themselves the Lion Brown Ambassadors.

About 50 shades of brown gathered at New Plymouth's Western Park on Saturday evening to celebrate the club's annual awards ceremony.

The group was founded in 2002 when Taranaki boys Michael Barnes and Scott Ireland, along with friend Ben Potaka, developed a love for the drop while working as chiller stackers in Wellington.

When their close-knit group of friends dispersed after university, holding an annual event in honour of Brown became a good way to get the boys back together.

Since then, members from around the globe have been accepted into the association which lives for the slogan, "Don't put down the Brown".

While Ireland said it was a good excuse to get away from your day-to-day duties once a year and reunite with like-minded people, member Josh Cairns took it far more seriously.

"It is a privilege. It's an association that's filled with men of character and it's a privilege to be able to hang out with them."

Some of those "men of character" include first-class rugby players Conrad Smith and Jason Eaton.

Sporting activities or "Brown events" are also held yearly, but this weekend was all about honouring the good work of ambassadors.

The supreme award, or Lion Brown Ambassador of the Year, went to Auckland member James Kennedy-Good, for his work in Afghanistan with the New Zealand Army.

To be accepted as a member, one must be nominated by an existing member. Anyone has the right to veto the nomination.

Mr Ireland said key qualities sought included good storytelling abilities, being a general good guy, and most importantly - commitment. "If you're in it, you're in it forever. You'll travel to awards, you'll go here or there or everywhere."

When asked what the possibilities were for letting a female into the club, the idea was quickly shut down.

"The short answer to that would be no," Mr Ireland said. "The events are tailored much more to the male I think."

With more than 60 members, Mr Cairns said the main goal was to see the group still thriving when they were in their 80s.

"Every year the new members are younger, so that will keep us old buggers young," Mr Ireland added. "Eventually we'll start living our life through them, I suppose."

To the critics who look down on the group for appreciating this particular beer, Mr Cairns said: "Don't put down the Brown. It's very sessionable. It's the kind of beer you want to have when you want to have more than three or four beers."

And although they live and breathe Brown, from time to time, society does demand they drink others.

"But I would always have Brown in my fridge at home. I would feel bad if an ambassador came to my house for a barbecue and I could not provide him with Brown," Mr Cairns said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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