Soba in the pursuit of hoppiness

JOHN ANTHONY
Last updated 05:00 04/07/2012
Society of Beer Advocates Taranaki
ROBERT CHARLES/Fairfax NZ

BEER CREW: The first Society of Beer Advocates Taranaki branch meeting was held last night at Montrose wine bar. From left: Brian Jordan, Warwick Foy, Shannon Ryan, Mark Sim and Joseph Wood.

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A small band of beer buffs gathered in New Plymouth last night for the inaugural Society of Beer Advocates Taranaki branch meeting.

The Society of Beer Advocates (Soba) is an organisation of New Zealanders set on sampling finely crafted, flavoursome beers with character and individuality all in "the pursuit of hoppiness".

Throughout the country Soba has more than 500 members, only a handful of whom are in Taranaki.

All six of Soba's Taranaki members gathered over a few brews at Montrose last night to shoot the breeze over one thing they all had in common.

New Plymouth man Brian Jordan said he organised the event by looking up Taranaki members on the Soba database.

Having been a member for about five years he felt it was high time Taranaki's craft beer enthusiasts met up.

There was no agenda for the evening, but he suspected the conversation would have a dominant theme.

"There will be a fair bit of beer talk I imagine," Mr Jordan said.

One of the members present was Liberty Brewing Company director Joseph Wood.

Mr Wood is responsible for producing some of New Zealand's most respected and progressive craft beers.

This was not the first Soba meeting he had been to, having occasionally attended Soba meetings in Wellington without realising, he said.

"You don't even know that you're at it until you see some-one wearing `the pursuit of hoppiness' T-shirt," Mr Wood said.

When it came to craft-beer awareness, Taranaki was lagging behind the rest of the country, he said.

There were few places selling craft beer in Taranaki because there wasn't a big enough market for it.

Mr Jordan said he joined Soba because he was tired of drinking bad beer.

"I was drinking ordinary beer, thinking there must be something better than this around."

With more than 60 craft brew-eries in New Zealand one of Soba's goals was too encourage the nation's bars and restaurants to stock better-quality brews, he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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