Week 15: It’s Cool To Hate

Dates:   7th October – 13th October, 2013

Bottle shop(s): Countdown Johnsonville and New World Newtown, Wellington

Beer(s):

  1. Original [lager], by Moa Brewing (6 x 330ml bottles, $10.99)
  2. Spike’s IPA, by Boundary Road (a.k.a. Asahi) (6 x 330ml bottles, $10.99)

Total: $21.98

I don’t like saying mean things about people.

But the simple fact is that the breweries behind this week’s beers are – at least partially – disliked by beer-savvy folk.

For Moa, it’s their track record for producing a heady mixture of homo- and xenophobic advertising; while for Boundary Road, it’s their efforts to trick the beer-buying public into thinking they’re a crafty underdog – as opposed to the brewing arm of RTD giant Independent Liquor.  (As an aside: if I were Boundary Road, I wouldn’t wank on about being Nestled at the Foothills of the Hunua Ranges – just because you can see the Hunuas from your brewery in Papakura, doesn’t make you Nestled at their Feet.)

Very appropriately, the non-brewing arms of these two breweries are frequently held accountable for their general-Knuckleheadedness and all-round apathy toward telling the truth.  Read anything on the topic by craft beer curmudgeon extraordinaire Phil Cook, or Beer Nation author Michael Donaldson (former- and reigning- NZ Beer Writers of the Year, I hasten to add), and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

But here’s the rub: none of these (albeit mighty) indiscretions have anything at all to do with what their beer actually tastes like.

With respect to the Boundary Road beers, it’s fair to say that they’re pretty hit-and-miss.  To be blunt, I’m pretty sure I’ve learnt more about beer ‘faults’ from drinking their range than I have from drinking my own homebrew.  But when they Hit, it resonates: here’s a brewery which has the production and distribution capacity to put moderately-priced six-packs in every bottle store, in every town, in every region of our Choice Country – so if the beer’s good, how is that a bad thing?  I reckon that when the Big Boys start making num num beer on a massive scale, the collective post-Swill palates of the non-Beer-Geek public can only evolve.

Spike’s IPA is very much a Hit from the Hunua Ranges crowd.  It’s a weeny-bit malty and has those lovely hop ’notes’ I’ve come to expect from half-decent pale ale.  In other words, it’s interesting – which at eleven bucks for a slab of six, makes it solid value for money.

M2

Which brings us to Moa.

Listen: I find elements of Moa’s marketing strategy as abhorrent as any self-respecting non-chauvinist should.  But the fact is this: I’ve never had a bad Moa beer.

To re-state the same point with the counterfactual: I’ve liked every single Moa I’ve ever had.

And I’m not alone: even those who might slap Moa for their ridiculous marketing are unable in good conscience to leave out the caveat that Moa’s beer is, at worst, Solid – and at best, Sublime.  A pint of Five-Hop from the hand-pull at Auckland’s Brew on Quay is still on my Top-Five list of epiphenal Beer Geek moments.

Original is a lager, and is thus aimed squarely at the Heineken and Steinlager Pure crowd.  But I reckon it’s a cut-above these kinda-generic offerings – it has a delicious creaminess that the other pale lagers lack.  It’s an utterly-refreshing, post-lawn-mow delight.  Moa have copped some flak for labelling this beer Super Premium Lager – but in a world where Heineken counts as Premium Lager, then Original is unequivocally ÜberPremium.

M1

From a consumer’s perspective, it seems to me that Moa have Multiple Personality Disorder – with head brewer Dave Nicholls playing the mild-mannered Jekyll to Chief Executive Geoff Ross’s Hyde.  And it’s that dichotomy which makes my head hurt when I’m standing in the beer aisle: on the one hand, the beer is num num and Dave Nicholls and his crew are worth supporting – but on the other hand, do I really want to align myself with a company whose marketing is so far removed from their product that they may as well be advertising power tools?

Here’s hoping that Moa have turned over a new leaf with their marketing strategy – if only to prevent Moral Outrage from being one of the emotions rolling over me when I’m perusing the beer aisle.

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