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Michael Donaldson: Books

I’ve written four books on beer, the latest being The Hopfather a biography of the legendary godfather of New Zealand brewing, Richard Emerson. There’s also two editions of Beer Nation – the Art & Heart of Kiwi Beer, and The Big Book of Home Brew – a Kiwi Guide. I have also ghost written golf caddie Steve Williams’ autobiography Out of the Rough and written a biography of golf star Lydia Ko. There’s a hard-to-find coffee table book called Country Courses, an ode to 18 of New Zealand’s most scenic and remote golf tracks.

Richard Emerson: The Hopfather (Penguin Random House 2019)

On November 7, 2012, Richard Emerson woke up an overnight millionaire.

A day earlier his Emerson’s brewery officially sold to New Zealand giant Lion for a sum later revealed as $8 million. Richard’s 12.1 per cent share in a business that carried his name for 20 years netted him close to $1 million. His mother Ingrid received a cheque for double that amount – half held in trust for Richard.

It’s the kind of instant wealth people dream about when they buy a Lotto ticket.

Except it wasn’t instant, nor overnight.


Steve Williams: Out of the Rough (Penguin 2015)

This was a controversial because Steve Williams is a controversial figure thanks to his long-time career alongside Tiger Woods. But I was rapt with the mostly 5-star reviews got. It’s a rare insider’s view of the professional golfing world and a it was privilege to write.

Amazon reviews

Good Read reviews


Beer Nation: The Art and Heart of Kiwi Beer (Penguin 2011)

This was the first book I wrote: a history of beer and brewing in New Zealand that focuses primarily on how New Zealand brewing became a duopoly in the late-1970s before small microbreweries, led by Mac’s gradually broke that stranglehold and led to the modern craft revolution of the 21st century. A second edition, updating many of the stories and adding new information was published in 2015.


Lydia Ko: Portrait of Teen Golfing Sensation (Penguin Random House 2016)

When this unauthorised biography came out, Lydia Ko was top of the world. A double-major champion, No 1 in the world and a global star. This book is the back-story of how she got there, the coaching methods, the cultural melting pot, the parenting that combined to create a champion. It’s a fascinating story, much of it previously undocumented. I had access to rare archival footage not seen before as well as great insights from some of the most influential people in her life.




The Big Book of Home Brew: A Kiwi Guide (Penguin Random House 2015)

A guide to home brewing told in a different way. It looks at various aspect of home brewing as told by some of New Zealand’s most famous professional brewers such as Pete Gillespie (Garage Project), Stu McKinlay (Yeastie Boys), Joe Wood (Liberty), Mike Neilson (Panhead), Luke Nicholas (Epic)  and many others. 

There’s step by step instructions as well as some classic recipes.

Country Courses of New Zealand (Penguin 2012)

I loved researching this book, playing 18 of the more unusual, obscure and interesting golf courses around New Zealand. From the East Cape to Stewart Island, the Far North to the Marlborough Sounds … it’s a journey through exotic and unique aspects of Kiwi golf life, including interviews with the likes of Bob Charles, Frank Nobilo, Brian Lochore, Phil Tataurangi and others. Photos by Neils Schipper.