It’s finally happened: the New Zealand media have realised that craft beer is cool. Two lifestyle magazines currently on the shelves have articles about craft beer. The first is Good magazine, promoter of all things green and ‘good’ with their large five page feature on craft beer . Under the intriguing descriptor ‘Slow Drinks’ the articles covers New Zealand craft beer from A for ‘Ale or Lager?’ to Z for Zymology and informs readers about ingredients, beer styles and the best available brews on the market.
The second magazine is Metro, with Paul Tudor’s ‘The Beer Drinker’s First XV’ article. Metro’s main focus is what’s hot in Auckland (namely motorways, house prices and schools), so the in-depth one page article came as a pleasant surprise and hopefully a sign of craft beer’s rising status in the big smoke. Even more pleasing was the focus on where you can buy these great beers in Auckland – finding craft beer in Auckland is not a always an easy task and Tudor’s article listed several outlets I’ve not yet tried. Hopefully Auckland’s eateries take note and next year’s Metro Top 50 Restaurants will feature places with good beer.
In addition to these one-off features, Dish magazine continues to comment on New Zealand’s ‘kick-arse craft beer scene’ (their words). The ‘By The Glass’ section regularly contains beer news and reviews, while Kiwi craft brews often feature in their matching recommen-dations for the recipes. I imagine this focus will continue while Victoria Wells is editor, after her success with Epic Brewing in taking top honours in the Beervana Head-to-Head Media Brew with their collaboration coffee-fig stout.
Another regular feature is Michael Donaldson’s column in the Sunday Star Times. His most recent column featured a rebuttal against Don Kavanagh’s statement in the NZ Herald that New Zealand beers are becoming unbalanced and over-hopped. While Kavanagh argued that ‘excessive alcohol and excessive hops make beer less drinkable’, Donaldson championed having a broad range of beers available, saying ‘If a brewer wants to pack in hops like a shopaholic in Milan, then so be it’. I’m not about to enter that debate here (although you can guess on which side I’ll be), but I will use the debate as an illustration of something that greatly excites me: the Kiwi media are passionately discussing craft beer. They have some knowledge and plenty of opinion and I think that’s a healthy sign craft beer is becoming more commonplace in New Zealand.
The best thing about these articles, regular features and debates is the timing; this coverage will be in airport book shops, cafes and stores during the Rugby World Cup, just waiting for overseas tourists to pick up and look at. Hopefully some of these visitors will see past the suffocating Heineken advertising that’s blotting our cityscapes and realise we’ve got some amazing beers here. And who knows – maybe even more Kiwis will notice as well!