Friday, 2 February 2007

Beer O'Clock: In the beginning...

Instead of sampling fine beers this afternoon and reporting back as Not PC's regular correspondent is required to do on a Friday, rumour has it that instead Neil from Real Beer is hunkered down at Wellington's Cake Tin sampling a series of mid-strength Tuis from a plastic glass. But that's just a rumour.

However, as he's happily waylaid by the Sevens on another gorgeous Wellington day, we'll dip instead into the fabled Real Beer Archives to bring excerpts from his first ever Internet Beer Column:

Let’s start with a confession: I’m not a guy who has always appreciated good beer.

In many ways, the development of my beer taste has paralleled the welcome development of a genuine beer culture in New Zealand.

I’ve gone from a single-brand mainstream drinker to one who appreciates a wide variety of beers from around the world.

Three years ago, I was a solid, loyal Tui drinker. I confess. I still have the hat, Hawaiian shirt and matching couch to prove it. A dozen Tui (pronounced “two-aye” of course) sufficed for every occasion, and was thought to perfectly match every type of food known to man. Pies. Sausages. Chips. Wedges. All the important food groups.

But then things began to change.

For a number of years, a very good friend of mine known as Dr. G (no relation to Ali, by the way) had been trying to tempt me with any number of fine local and international beers.

When others around him had a dozen Tui or a dozen Rheineck (or worse), Dr. G could be relied upon to have a veritable cornucopia of pilsners, ales and double-chocolate stouts. And he would always exhort me to “try a bit of this, sir, instead of your bog standard New Zealand lager” -- and thank God he did.

It took me a long time to be convinced – but two events finally converted me.

I was finally convinced that mainstream New Zealand beers did indeed all taste very, very similar when my friend Bok completely failed a blind taste test between DB Draught (which he claimed to love) and Lion Brown (which he claimed to hate). Strike One.

And just at that happy moment, I was introduced to Pink Elephant Mammoth. Roger Pink’s magnificent flavoursome (and strong) beer drew me into literally a whole new world of quality beer.

Whole new vistas of beer were opened up to me, in which I’ve been frolicking happily ever since.

Cheers, Neil.

Do you have a moment when the scales fell from your eyes and you began drinking real beer instead of flavoured water? What was your Damascene beer? Let the other readers know in the comments section below.

LINKS: Pink Elephant Mammoth - Rate Beer
Real Beer

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere


  1. So, what is the moral of this story? That you are not always right and can eventually be converted. Interesting.

  2. During the early eighties, at Warners bar in Ch-CH.

    There I discovered a beer that was not as the others were.

    It was draft Mac's!

    From here the adventure started!

  3. If Neil is indeed at the sevens, then not only is he drinking Tui... He will be drinking it out of a plastic bottle! Possibly poured into a plastic cup. And it will be warm.

    The horror!

    As for my conversion... Tupelo Friday nights with Emerson's "Bookbinder" were my first communions, and the same brewery's "Forty Winks" (at a dinner with RateBeer's prolific beer hunter "TheGrandMaster") was the annunciation.

  4. No single blinding flash for me, rather a slow raising of the variable-resistance dimmer. Several friends exhorted me to try various more flavourful beers, and I did indeed find them delicious. Like Neil though, the real beginning was Mammoth - on tap at the Malthouse in Wellington.

    I relegated beer to the back seat for a while after that, as I knew there was good beer out there, but it was impossible to find in Hamilton in the late 1990s, and it was far easier to just drink spirits with my friends.

    In about 2001 though, a friend took me to Speaker's Corner - an English themed pub in Browns Bay, Auckland. I now realise that the beer was old and stale, and even with the best intentions, it's hard to get good ale all the way from the UK and serve it quickly enough that it remains fresh. However, to my uninitiated palate, it was like the nectar of the gods.

    After that, nothing else would do. I was in love with beer. I began seeking out anything and everything I could find from any brewery I heard of. I even went to England when an opportunity arose, despite never really having much desire to travel, just to sample all the cask ales.

    Now I just want NZ to have what the UK and the US have in terms of beer selection and quality. As a founding member of SOBA, the journey continues... :)


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