Rose Tinted Pint Glass


Evangelistic brother / Should be banging a tambourine
Go wash your hands and fingers / Until your mind is clean

Now, it might be more than a little naff to begin a blog post by quoting Tears for Fears, but I caught a snatch of Mr Pessimist the other day, and that couplet connected with the theme that’s been haunting my thoughts, while floating elusively out of my mental reach.

The jigsaw assembled itself properly while I was visiting Melbourne for Good Beer Week. Experiencing the pride and excitement the Australians have for their beers and brewers, feeling the camaraderie, and seeing the queues out the door of notable craft beer venues were uplifting things to behold. There was a dramatic contrast between this joy of spirit, and the feeling I’d had on leaving New Zealand, where the last thing I’d done is catch up on the forums on Realbeer. I shouldn’t have done that.

What is it about we Kiwis that causes us to be constantly sniping, looking for holes, and generally being sad sacks about things? I’ve heard it described as “tall poppy syndrome”, but I’ve seen it expressed as dislike of any new idea from any source, even more diminutive members of the family Papaveraceae.

We have such a lively and creative beer scene here in New Zealand. With every chance we get, we should be banging that tambourine. After all, every time we convince another person to drink flavourful craft beer, made right here in New Zealand, that’s one more little bit of demand in the market which helps to ensure more great beer for us to enjoy.

I’m not trying to say we should all be “fake”. Constructive criticism is encouraged almost everywhere. Nobody can fix a problem if they are not aware they have one. Also, there are some things about which it’s just not possible to have anything but a sense of withering disdain. Neither am I claiming to be blameless here. I’ve certainly been guilty of having a dig when it would have been just as easy, and far more productive to be positive. What I am suggesting is that we try harder. Don’t assume there’s a dark motive behind a new release. Give the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming the worst. Don’t pour scorn just to sound aloof or cool. Passion is cool. Get passionate!

It’s time for me to stop being the “evangelistic brother” now, but I’ll finish up by saying we have an amazing beer scene. Get amongst it. Celebrate it. Hug a brewer, a barman, a fellow drinker, and just feel lucky. It might be contagious!

 

*UPDATE*

In case it seems that way, this is NOT an “Australia is better than us” post. I loved the little I’ve seen of Australia, but I also love NZ dearly. The GBW experience was simply a catalyst for something that’s been bugging me for quite some time. Right. As you were.


7 thoughts on “Rose Tinted Pint Glass

  • Barry

    Aussie grass is always greener?
    I’ve never been to Beervana but have only heard great things about it, what’s an apples-for-apples comparison in attitudes between the two festivals of beer either side of the Tasman? I’m not sure comparing your intimate knowledge of the NZ scene and it’s personalities VS being on holiday in Melbourne during Great Beer Week is a fair fight.

    It helps to have some distance from the “scene” – be that professional brewers or the learned few at the top of the social beer aficionado circle. To not get those “in” jokes or those “in” snipes for that matter. Rose tinted glasses indeed – ignorance is bliss.

    With a rapidly maturing craft beer scene you’re gonna get those who don’t just like all good beer but like the “right” good beer, know what I mean? Especially in a superficial place like Auckland I might add.

    In any case, haters gonna hate.

  • greig Post author

    Far from it, Barry. In fact, I think the NZ beer scene is a little healthier than the Aussies in terms of quality. Sure, Melbourne has a ton more beer places than Hamilton, Auckland, or even Wellington, but then there are four million people there! Nope, I still believe the grass is a much nicer shade of green here.

    What I do think the Aussies have right is their attitude. Even at Beervana, there’s a lot of backroom sniping going on. I’m sure Australians aren’t free of it entirely either, but it’s not about “us versus them”, I was just inspired by the attitude I saw there, and thought it was a great example of how we should be acting.

    It doesn’t matter if my view was skewed, what matters is the takeaway, which for me is “be a more positive ambassador for craft beer”.

    Haters gonna hate is a bit of a cop-out in my mind. Because something is bad, and will always happen, isn’t any reason not to at least try to improve it.

  • Barry

    Yeah I didn’t mean it as a cop out. It’s completely up to the individual. Choose your attitude, mine being: “I agree and take ownership and responsibility for my own beer ambassadorship!”

  • Christian

    Greg, on one hand I despair at the silly p***ing matches you see in the craft beer industry – sometimes people need to simply relax and have a craft beer! But on the other I don’t like the attitude that growing the industry is more important than the beer itself, that it is somehow unpatriotic to offer criticism. Craft beer is all about quality so this is something to be upheld – it’s no surprise that the scene is suspicious of style over substance. No one appreciates paying $10+ for a pint of something that tastes like Raro.

  • greig Post author

    Christian: This post seems to be all about being misunderstood. I didn’t mean to imply that one shouldn’t call a spade a spade. If beer is bad, by all means, say so, but say WHY. It’s neither unpatriotic, nor irrational to do so. What riles me is people hating on beers they’ve not even tasted because they claim not to like the brewer, or they once had a rough experience with the brewery, or…

    Taste, evaluate, appreciate, criticise. Just don’t hate for the sake of hating.

  • Christian

    Sorry, I should have been clear that my comment wasn’t really directed at your post as such – rather just that we should be cautious about the other extreme. I can’t disagree with anything you’ve said, especially the bit about saying WHY you don’t like a beer – it may reveal just as much about the reviewer as the beer itself and gives others a much better basis for making up their own mind.

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