Beer O’Clock: Beer and Politics Do Mix
Humble beer scribe Neil Miller (of Real Beer and The Malthouse Blog) finds out what beers our MPs like to drink (including the Prime Minister) and reviews the Bath range of ale. Is there a connection between the two topics...
Only in New Zealand can a humble beer journalist email politicians and aspiring politicians, ask them to name their favourite beers and get a 99% reply rate.
The first Minister of the Crown to reply was Hon Peter Dunne, MP for Ohariu-Belmont and Leader of United Future. His favorite beers are Heineken (“because of the smooth taste”) followed by a Guinness (“because it is a meal in itself”).
Part-time senior Labour MP and now full-time blogger Hon Trevor Mallard defied all the stereotypes by nominating Monteith’s Radler as his favored tipple because “it’s fresh and light with a bit of spice”. Unsuccessful Alliance candidate Richard Wallis then confirmed any number of stereotypes by arguing the best beer is Tui and “nothing else need be said I think.”
New Labour MP Grant Robertson’s selections made me want to cheer then cry. He “can recommend the excellent Emerson’s Oatmeal Stout from Dunedin. Full, rich, almost a meal in a glass! For something a bit lighter, and with summer in mind, a Corona with a wedge of lime or lemon is high on my list.”
ACT’s Heather Roy conceded “I'm more likely to be found with a glass of Riesling but on a hot summer's day I'm quite partial to Steinlager Pure.” However, she quickly redeemed herself by saying “I enjoy going to the Malthouse on Courtenay Place – it has a relaxed atmosphere and is a great place to meet friends after work.” She is now in Cabinet.
Former National List MP Mark Blumsky had no hesitation in picking Tuatara Pilsner as his beer of choice - “I just love the fact it is fresh, full-flavoured and local!” Current National List MP Katrina Shanks chose Monteith’s Original because “it is a nice easy ale to drink in summer or winter” while Cabinet Minister Hon Chris Finlayson picked “Budweiser, but only the Czech version as I believe the US version is poison.” No news yet of Anheuser-Busch suing New Zealand’s Attorney General which is probably a good thing.
Hon Mahara Okeroa, then Labour member for Te Tai Tonga, was the only politician approached who never replied. It’s been two years now and hopes of receiving an answer are fading fast. His Cabinet colleague Hon Annette King could find the time as Police Minister to select “ginger beer” as her pick but Mr Okeroa’s role as a “Minister of State” apparently precluded a reply. In unrelated news, Annette King was returned to Parliament in 2008 and is now Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. Mahara Okeroa was defeated and currently has four supporters on his Facebook page.
Until recently, the beer preferences of Prime Minister John Key were unknown. It was one of the about two topics not covered in the recent enormous interviews in the Sunday papers. I have seen him enthuse about Heineken at a press conference but it was a press conference announcing Heineken’s sponsorship of the Rugby World Cup so that was pretty mandatory. My attempts to question the Prime Minister directly on his beer preferences were thwarted by a phalanx of real journalists with microphones and reporters notebooks surrounding him and asking real questions until he was whisked to safety by the Diplomatic Protection Squad.
As it happens, I have found out the answer to the question everybody wants to know – “what beer does our Prime Minister like to drink?” It is a very modern type of scoop. I found it out through the internet, by accident. I was on the “This is Bristol” website happily reading the “Warmley News”, as one does, when I was confronted by an article titled “New Zealand PM John Key likes Bath Ales.” It read:
Prime Minister of New Zealand has taken a liking to beers made by a Bristol brewer. National Party leader John Key, 47, who was elected to lead the Kiwis in 2008, has been supping beers made by Bath Ales and sold by Bristol expat Chris Carrad in his Wine Circle shop in Auckland. The store, in Mr Key's constituency of Helensville, specialises in beers from Europe, but those made by Bath Ales in Warmley – 11,400 miles from New Zealand – are a particular favourite for the Prime Minister.
Speaking to the Post from New Zealand, Chris said:
We get Mr Key in the shop when he's in his constituency and he's very nice. He spends a lot of time in Wellington, which is the seat of Parliament and is about eight hours drive away but he comes in the shop when he can, while his bodyguards sit in the ministerial car outside. We sell several Bath Ales brands including Gem, Barnstormer and Wild Hare and his constituency secretary tells me they all go down a treat – especially Gem.
Roger Jones, Bath Ales MD, said: "We're delighted Mr Key enjoys it."
Bath Ales is a brewery which has been operating in Warmley since 1985. Showing his legendary political wisdom, the proprietor of Wellington’s Malthouse bar begin offering a range of the Bath beers well before this story broke into the mainstream media and collective popular consciousness. The Malthouse fridges currently contain:
Gem – The Prime Minister prefers this 4.7% ESB which is exceptionally well-balanced. There are plenty of caramel, toffee and roasted notes with just a hint of cleansing hops at the end.
Wild Hare - A 5% blond ale which pours a burnished gold. It is dry, fruity (oranges and lemons) with hints of hay and a balancing malt sweetness.
Dark Hare – Not to be confused with the evil rabbits in Watership Down, this 4% stout is a deep ruby hue with a gentle nose of caramel and liquorice. Light in body, the flavours include coffee, chocolate, biscuit and vanilla before an earthy hop finish.
Barnstormer – This is a 4.5% premium bitter whose full body showcases hints of caramel, toast, nuts and dark fruits.
Finally, any politician worth their salt would be proud of the motto of Bath Ales – “brewed for those who know... and those who don’t.” That covers all the bases quite nicely.
Cross-posted at The Malthouse Blog