Terry McCashin: The duopoly buster graphic

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Terry McCashin: The duopoly buster

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Pinning down the late Terry McCashin was no easy task. When I started researching my first book, Beer Nation – The Art and Heart of Kiwi Beer, the first person pencilled in for an interview was Terry McCashin, who died suddenly yesterday, aged 73. The framework for the book pivoted on the year 1981 when […]

Garage Project – Masters of the double IPA somersault graphic

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Garage Project – Masters of the double IPA somersault

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Long the people’s choice as New Zealand’s best brewery, Garage Project have negotiated the bureaucracy of beer to be the establishment’s No 1. The Wellington outfit, which started with just two people six years ago, founders Jos Ruffell and Pete Gillespie, now employs over 40. They won Champion Brewery at the Brewers Guild Awards in […]

What? No hops? graphic

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What? No hops?

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

In a first for this column I’m going to tell you about a beer without hops. Sacrilege! You might cry. How can it be? Isn’t there an obscure German rule that says beer must be made with hops? How can it be craft beer if it doesn’t have hops; isn’t craft beer just hoppy pale […]

Renaissance – the end of an era? graphic

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Renaissance – the end of an era?

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Earlier this year I spoke to Brian Thiel at Renaissance when I was researching the second edition of Beer Nation. I got the sense that things weren’t quite right … just something in the tone of Brian’s voice and the words he used. Now with the news the business is in voluntary administration and up […]

Not so mild: Mike Johnson, a pioneer of NZ craft beer graphic

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Not so mild: Mike Johnson, a pioneer of NZ craft beer

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Mike Johnson must be one of the more unusual brewers to have set up shop in New Zealand.   For a start, he made only one beer: Mike’s Mild. But it kept him business for the best part of 13 years on an isolated part of the north Taranaki coast.   But he’s also refreshingly […]

Beer Nation – Another Round graphic

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Beer Nation – Another Round

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Here’s an extract from the opening chapter of Beer Nation – Another Round, which officially launches on August 23.   Beer is the national beverage of New Zealand. Excepting in the case of teetotallers, beer is used by all classes. But more especially, beer is the drink of the working man. The labourer working in […]

Oysters Ahoy! graphic

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Oysters Ahoy!

Monday, August 21st, 2017

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more understated, unassuming and downright humble mob than the Three Boys team Ralph Bungard has under his watch in the Christchurch suburb of Woolston. The irony is that they’ve celebrated the birthday with two of the most impressive, bold and beautiful beers you could hope to get your hands […]

Auckland’s Ale Loops graphic

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Auckland’s Ale Loops

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Anyone who doubts that the City of Sails is fast becoming the City of Ales, needs to get out to more … to help you here’s a guide to Auckland’s best beer routes.   DOWNTOWN ALE LOOP While we wait for the inner city rail loop to be built, we have to rely on Shanks’ […]

Emerson’s JP – a celebration of a brewing inspiration graphic

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Emerson’s JP – a celebration of a brewing inspiration

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

By JoAnne Carr Every June, Emerson’s Brewery in Dunedin releases ‘JP’, a limited release Belgian-style ale. Like many special beer releases, it is snapped up by ardent beer drinkers, spurred on by the lure of something new and different, and the stamp collector mentality of “gotta try them all”. But there’s more to the story […]

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Panhead withdraws off beer

Monday, June 12th, 2017

Panhead Custon Ales has withdrawn a number of batches of its award-winning beer, including the much-loved Super Charger after a cross-contamination issue. Some customers have been complaining about “off” beers from Panhead in the past couple of weeks, including a noticeable sour tang. @panheadbrewery just picked up a super charger 6er and they're sour af […]

Baddest beer graphic

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Baddest beer

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

By Michael Donaldson   Growing up in the 1970s I was obsessed with a handful of athletes who dominated the era – Mark Spitz, Jack Nicklaus, Muhammad Ali. One of my favourite books from that era was Norman Mailer’s The Fight detailing the Rumble in the Jungle boxing match between Ali and George Foreman in […]

Would you pay $34 for a bottle of beer? graphic

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Would you pay $34 for a bottle of beer?

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

When beer was a commodity – back in the day before craft – the only thing that mattered what tribe you belong to (Lion or DB) and the price of the stuff. For many price still matters and one of the criticisms that’s often thrown at craft is the cost of good beer. Before I […]

Hopster not a hipster graphic

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Hopster not a hipster

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

You may have heard about this trend to make cloudy, hoppy beers. Or to give them their hip name: East Coast IPAs. East Coast IPAs, which arose in Vermont, are about beer in its natural state. They are unfiltered and unfined, in that no clarifying agents such as Irish Moss or isinglass have been used to remove particles. […]

Parrots fly free of cage graphic

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Parrots fly free of cage

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Wellington brewery ParrotDog are poised to break out of their restrictive cage/kennel. With new equipment arriving last week at their just-opened Lyall Bay brewery they will soon be able to produce the huge volume of beer their fans demand. ParrotDog let out a loud bark last year when they raised $2m of equity in two days on PledgeMe, thanks […]

20 words on 16 beers of 2016 graphic

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20 words on 16 beers of 2016

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Looking back on the memorable beers of 2016 a few themes started to emerge. The rise of sour and barrel-aged beers, a move to sweeter-style pale ales and IPA, where fruity hop character takes centre stage over bitterness, an increasing number of good low alcohol beers, and a scattering of American brown ales – a style that packs […]

Is the bubble going to burst? graphic

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Is the bubble going to burst?

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Once the domain of hipsters, craft beer is now in pubs, supermarkets and almost every home barbecue or party. But, asks Michael Donaldson, is the industry reaching the end of its shelf life? Brothers Beer shop, brewery and tasting lounge in Auckland draws in punters with over 200 flavours on offer. Photo / Richard Robinson […]

New Zealand’s Greatest Beers: Top-10 graphic

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New Zealand’s Greatest Beers: Top-10

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Welcome to the top-10 Greatest Beers in New Zealand, the final chapter in the list of our top-50 beers. The list is built on a raft of criteria that includes: Ratings on sites including Untappd and Ratebeer; Gold medals / trophies won at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards and other competitions; The influence the beer […]

New Zealand’s 50 Greatest Beers: 20-11 graphic

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New Zealand’s 50 Greatest Beers: 20-11

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Welcome to the top-20 the list documenting what I believe are the 50 greatest beers in New Zealand. The list is built on a raft of criteria that includes: Ratings on sites including Untappd and Ratebeer; Gold medals / trophies won at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards and other competitions; The influence the beer has […]

New Zealand’s 50 Greatest Beers: 30-21 graphic

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New Zealand’s 50 Greatest Beers: 30-21

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Welcome to part three of the list documenting what I believe are the 50 greatest beers in New Zealand. The list is built on a raft of criteria that includes: Ratings on sites including Untappd and Ratebeer; Gold medals / trophies won at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards and other competitions; The influence the […]

New Zealand’s 50 Greatest Beers: 40-31 graphic

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New Zealand’s 50 Greatest Beers: 40-31

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Welcome to part two of the list documenting what I believe are the 50 greatest beers in New Zealand. The list is as built on a raft of criteria that includes: Ratings on sites including Untappd and Ratebeer; Gold medals / trophies won at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards and other competitions; The influence […]

New Zealand’s 50 Greatest Beers – Nos 50-41 graphic

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New Zealand’s 50 Greatest Beers – Nos 50-41

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

In the years I’ve been writing about a beer I’ve lost count of the time people have asked me “what’s you favourite beer?”. I’ve never really been prepared to stay categorically what my favourite is; in truth it can vary from day to day or even across a night. As a beer writer and historian about […]

A big shout out graphic

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A big shout out

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Mostly in my life, I’ve not made a huge number of conscious decisions that have led to ongoing happiness. Mostly happiness happens by accident. Asking Deirdre to marry me was the biggest of those decisions and it’s been a roaring success. Earlier in life, I was determined to go to Phys Ed school in Dunedin and […]

Need Fewer Hops? graphic

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Need Fewer Hops?

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

Can it be that the man who championed the phrase “need more hops” actually now wants less? For a decade, Luke Nicholas of Epic has led the hop-forward revolution in New Zealand – first with his Epic Pale Ale and then with Armageddon IPA, Hop Zombie double IPA, the One Trick Pony series, Lupulingus and […]

Hallertau Tasting graphic

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Hallertau Tasting

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

I’m hosting a tasting with a difference at Hallertau on October 20. We’ll be looking at the beers from the angle of flavours — such as bitter, malty, hoppy, smoky, roasty, tart, sour —  rather than traditional styles. It’s a great way to find out what kind of beer you prefer. It promises to be an entertaining […]

Townshends rebuilds after disaster graphic

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Townshends rebuilds after disaster

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

I have long been a huge fan of Townshend’s Brewery. One man band Martin Townshend, who is based in Upper Moutere in the rural Nelson area, has made some of my favourite easy-drinking English style beers – especially his Old House ESB – a friendly, generous drop of English-style bitter. But in the past year I’ve […]

Beervana nears nirvana graphic

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Beervana nears nirvana

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Beervana 2016 is my favourite iteration of the annual festival. Festival director Beth Brash and her team did an amazing job on the oft-forgotten “less is more” cliché by streamlining the event. By that I mean cutting out seminars, workshops and distractions such as the Media Brew contest. I loved the Media Brew as a […]

Pucker up people, it’s the hour of sour graphic

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Pucker up people, it’s the hour of sour

Friday, August 5th, 2016

If you’re setting your watch by the old expression “beer o’clock” then the hour is about to strike sour. Sour – a catch-all term which doesn’t quite capture the array of tart, salty, fruity and refreshing beers starting to mushroom up in New Zealand – is such a pejorative term I sometimes wish we could […]

Big John Harrington: I’ve got the best job in the world graphic

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Big John Harrington: I’ve got the best job in the world

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Big John Harrington reckons he’s got the best job in the world. “I call myself the chief taste tester,” says the patriarch of Christchurch’s Harrington’s Brewery, which this month celebrates its 25th birthday. John, who’s pushing 75, founded the brewery after he tried retirement at 46 and got bored. Born in Greymouth, with six brothers […]

Slow train to success graphic

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Slow train to success

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

When Richard Emerson sold his small Dunedin brewery to national giant Lion four years ago it took him well out of his comfort zone. He went from a humble brewer turning out some of New Zealand’s loved beers to a corporate-style ambassador for his brand, meeting and greeting a constant stream of new faces – […]

Now is the sour graphic

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Now is the sour

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

New Zealand’s burgeoning barrel-aged sour beer programme has taken another major step with debut of Waikanae brewer Kieran Haslett-Moore’s Salt & Wood range. Haslett-Moore also has a kettle-soured beer on the way at his Northend Brewery – about an hour north of Wellington – and as it went into the fermenter he posted to Facebook: […]

I’ve been drinking graphic

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I’ve been drinking

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

This is an ever-growing, regularly updated list of what I’ve been drinking lately: Three Boys Oyster Stout: First one for the season – and it was super-smooth on handpull. There was an briny edge, some tacky tarriness, and an underlying sweetness. Perfectly balanced and downed as quickly as half-dozen oysters. 8.5/10     Liberty C!tra: On tap at […]

Reactions revving over Panhead sale to Lion graphic

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Reactions revving over Panhead sale to Lion

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

News that Panhead Custom Ales will be parking up at a new garage – joining Emersons and the long-ago purchased Mac’s – in the Japan-owned Lion stable has sparked a raft of reactions. If my thoughts could be ordered like a starting grid for the Indianapolis 500, they would be ranked in the following order: […]

Gluten-free beer back on the market graphic

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Gluten-free beer back on the market

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Kereru Brewing’s gluten-free beer, Auro, will soon be back on shelves after a successful crowd-funding exercise. Kereru had brewed Auro twice before but lost money both times as the demand wasn’t there. This time they used a Pledge Me campaign to test the market for a third run of Auro. That too looked ready to […]

Tasting notes for New World Awards graphic

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Tasting notes for New World Awards

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

One week in March I had the task of tasting 40 beers and ciders which won gold medals at the New World Beer & Cider Awards. Yep 40 in less than a week (and I couldn’t share them with anyone as that would have given away the results). The tasting notes are in New World brochures […]

Paul Henry Show graphic

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Paul Henry Show

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

It was short and sweet but great fun to put in an appearance on The Paul Henry Show to talk about the New World Beer & Cider Awards http://www.newshub.co.nz/tvshows/paulhenry/wine-and-beer-awards-tickle-nzs-tastebuds-2016041312#axzz45THF83TW

New World Beer & Cider Awards graphic

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New World Beer & Cider Awards

Monday, April 11th, 2016

The New World Beer & Cider Award winners have been announced and I’m rapt with the results. There’s a great mix of established breweries and proven trophy-winning beers as well as interesting newcomers such as Sparks Brewing and Eagle Brewing. All the results can be found here http://www.newworld.co.nz/wine-and-beer/best-in-class/

Moa ruffling feathers graphic

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Moa ruffling feathers

Monday, April 4th, 2016

Moa – for a brewery named after an extinct bird they manage to ruffle a lot of feathers. On the flip side, you know how the saying goes: ‘‘Any publicity …’’The latest piece of news-making concerns Moa Group chief executive Geoff Ross and director David Poole increasing their shareholdings in the NZX-listed brewery. The purchase […]

Nature’s miracle green bullet graphic

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Nature’s miracle green bullet

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

Around the country right now brewers are conditioning special brews that, like wine, are made just once a year. March is hop harvest time and for a very short period brewers are able to get their hands on what are known as “fresh” or “green” hops. These are hops in their soft pillowy state before […]

Go north young brewers graphic

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Go north young brewers

Saturday, April 2nd, 2016

Heading: Magnetic North Standfirst: Michael Donaldson sees a brewing wave descending on Auckland. Images: Joe Wood at his new brewery in Helensville. The Funk Estate team Dylan Shearer, Shigeo Takagi and Jordan Evison have moved into the premises where Governor brewed. In the mid-19th century as Americans started to venture from the eastern seaboard to […]

Burn brothers’ fight back graphic

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Burn brothers’ fight back

Friday, April 1st, 2016

Andrew Childs would never, ever again want to go through the ordeal of being burnt by boiling wort again but even he can see the upside of the

Farmhouse flavours graphic

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Farmhouse flavours

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Farmhouse – it’s the new buzzword in beer. You always know something’s on trend when a big brewery dips its toe into a puddle that previously entertained only the splashes of a few smaller brewers. When Lion-owned Mac’s last month released Hay Day, a farmhouse ale, it seemed this obscure style of beer had reached […]

Super-charged for flavor graphic

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Super-charged for flavor

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Call it the beer-lovers beer of choice. After all, to be voted top beer by the country’s most avid consumers must mean something. Panhead Custom Ales’ Supercharger – a super-hoppy American pale ale – topped the voting at the annual SOBA awards for the best beer of 2015. SOBA – the Society of Beer Advocates […]