by Keith Stewart
Have you cast an eye over the beer selection at your l;ocal supermarket lately. Wow! Its enough to bring tears to the eyes of anybody who has sat and savoured a well hopped ale in a country house as the sun lights up its frosted windows. Beer of every description from every corner of the world mak4es our supermarkets, especially those that pride themselves on their choice of beers, to be destination retailers for thre sot inclined.
And all of this in a country where the flavour fascists dominated our beer drinking for three generations. Remember when a take home beer was a flagon of anemic, flaccid brown stuff poured from the tap at your local pub? That was when beer was delivered in tankers and pumped full of gas to give life to the soul-less stuff that out beer factories chruned out.
That was when New Zealand beer was so flat and tasteless, so weak that the well informed called it piss, which soon became the vernacular term for all beer, here. So starved of real beer were we that when DB invented a thing called Export, most of us thought it was something of quality. It wasn't, which is why DB now belongs to Heineken, who at least know how to make decent beer.
In the last decade or so, starting with rare creative types such as the gentlemen at Emmersons in Dunedin, local beer looked up, discovered hearty yeast, malt of character and real hops and the beer revolution began. Simultaneously the British found out how to make decent quantities of bottle conditioned real ales that could be shipped to distant corners of the world, and Presto! Beer became a treat again.
And thank goodness in the back rooms of some of our supermarkets they realised that the future was not written in the hopeless mdeiocrity of big brewers bland offerings, but in the variety and dazzle of this new range of real beers from everywhere – Nelson to Dunedin to Taranaki, even Auckland, and all the way back to Blighty. Grocers have since become places where men can shop with dignity, and women are discovering that beer can be as much social fun as wine.
No woonder pubs are closing down all around the country. The fact is, we drink 70% of our beer at home, most of which we buy from our supermarkets.
That's what I call civilised.