Dates: 18th November – 24th November, 2013
Pub/bottle shop(s): New World Miramar and Fork and Brewer, Wellington
- Pale Ale, by Epic (4 x 330ml, $14.99)
- Base Jumper APA, by Fork and Brewer (425ml pint, $9.50)
The concept of value is an intangible, to which we each attribute meaning based on our own set of unique criteria. When it comes to trading our hard-earned cash for goods and services, we are inclined to mistake value for quantity, and use these terms interchangeably – when in actual fact the two are at best weakly correlated.
For example, this week my multipack choice was the delicious Epic Pale Ale – a beer that has unquestionably become part of New Zealand’s craft beer furniture. After standing glassy-eyed in the beer aisle for a few minutes, I’d whittled-down the potential candidates to two Fourteen-Ninety-Niners: a four-pack of Pale Ales, or a six-pack of Sam Adams Noble Pils.
In the end, the reason that I grabbed the Pale Ale came down to basics: I just decided that four Epic’s represented more value to me than six Sam Adam’s did. And that’s to take nothing away from the plucky Bostonian; I’ve heard it’s fine. But fine is one thing; hop-dripping and yet somehow pinpoint-balanced is another – and that’s precisely what Epic Pale Ale is. Add to that the fact that it’s locally-made (and that I actually know who wrote the recipe), and in retrospect Sam Adams never really had a shot.
In this situation, it was the relative value of Epic compared to Sam Adams which won the day for Luke Nicholas’ creation. According to my own criteria of what value means, an Epic in the Hand is Worth Two Noble Pils (…In the Bush, or anywhere else for that matter).
But the bottle shop isn’t the only place where this sorta-pseudo-math is useful; it’s even more on-point when you’re leaning on the bar of your local taphouse.
This week was my last in Wellington before shifting back to Auckland – certainly a bittersweet affair (which I’ve already wanked on about in a prior post), but one accompanied by a silver lining: a farewell drink with an old friend, with whom a catch-up was long-overdue.
Only one thing for it: To the Fork and Brewer, Good Sir!
I’d been meaning to get up to F’nB for ages – keeping up with their Twitter titillations borders on torture at times, and now that I’m in Auckland I may have to stop following them for the sake of self-preservation. To wander up those stairs and emerge to a face-full of fermenters was, for lack of a better term, euphoric. Like Hashigo Zake and The Malthouse, F’nB is a Church to all things Beer-y (ya know, ‘Holy’, but with beer), and I’d been dying to try out the latest offerings from head brewer Lester Dunn – if only to support someone with the sweeeeeetest afro in New Zealand brewing. (Mark my words: Brewery Beards are on the way out: Yeast-Catching Afros are the New Black.)
My Old Friend and I sat down to a pint-each of Fork and Brewer Base Jumper, an American Pale Ale brewed on-site by Lester in their Bond Street brew-pub. We nattered for ages, giggling (yes, boys do that too) about our idiotic teenage exploits; we waffled about What We’re Up To Now, both showing remorse about those Opportunities Lost friendship-wise in the interceding years. Ultimately, and inevitably, we both pledged future efforts to catch-up whenever we could: Don’t Leave It Fifteen Years This Time. I’m Up In Auckland In A Few Months, We’ll Catch Up Then.
At the end of it all, there were just two empty pint glasses sitting on the table. Base Jumper had perfectly complimented – but not overpowered – our long-overdue catch-up; the floral hop character, the citrus notes, the soft malt presence: Perfect. Well done Lester – you made a happy occasion even happier, and surely that’s the ultimate goal of any passionate brewer.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: in a world where $8 buys you a Pint of Meh and $10 buys you a Pint of Awesome, you’re an absolute drop-kick if you stick with the Meh. Contrary to oft-overheard pub complaints, paying 25% extra for a pint of beer is not a rip-off – especially when the beer is as good as Base Jumper. Counterfactually, maybe it’s the beer at the other end of the scale which is actually the rip-off; I mean, is Steinlager really only 25% ‘less delicious’ than a Lester Dunn Special? Or an Emerson’s, Moa, Tuatara or Yeastie Boys for that matter? I think not. The difference in quality is surely exponential.
As long as brewers like Lester are producing outstanding stuff at reasonable volumes, craft beer pubs like Fork and Brewer (and Hashigo Zake, Brothers Beer, Galbraith’s, etcetera) will continue to be an outstanding source of relative beer value. Looking ahead to the next few months, joints like Brothers are likely to be the sweet to my bitterness as I turn my back to the coolest, hippest, Most-Choice city in New Zealand.
*Cue sad walking-away music*