Dates: 16th December – 22nd December, 2013
Bottle shop: Liquorland Howick, Auckland
- Golden Perch, by Yeastie Boys (1.25L rigger, $16.20)
- Mon P’tit Chou, by Garage Project (330ml can, $6.00)
- [Taniwha Smoky Ale, by Mata Brewing (500ml bottle, $0.00)]
As the curtains go down on this blog experiment, I’ve been in reflection mode – and you’ll be yawningly disappointed to hear that I plan to impart some learned wisdom here.
Having prematurely answered the quantitative chunk of this experiment – i.e. What is the optimal balance of ‘craft’ vs ‘quaffable’ for a beer geek on a budget? – I’ve had time to focus on the more qualitative bits; those touchy-feelies that describe the drivers of my beer-drinking behaviour.
The conclusion of all this vomit-inducing introspection is that I’m a changed man – a Better Man, to borrow an overplayed lyric. And like anyone who has experienced significant positive change, I’ve started wishing the same for everyone around me.
Case-in-point: my beer selections for these Christmas holidays. Six-months-ago-Jason would have headed straight to the green-bottle boxes, all the time running mental arithmetic on How Many I Need Per Day; but this year, it’s totally different. I spent the same as I usually would – probably less, actually – but walked out with a selection of bottles of actually delicious stuff. It’s a complete priority shift: I’ve gone from Why Can’t We Not Be Sober (…This Christmas) and morphed into a far more interesting and developed bloke. It’s like Jason, Version 2.0 (…well, Version 3.0 if you count that chubby phase).
For Christmas this year, I’ve purposely bought beers that can be shared – since I’ve learnt that a big chunk of the enjoyment of ‘craft’ beer is sharing it with others, and then waxing lyrical (i.e. talking bollocks) about it with each other. Sharing is, indeed, Caring; but I’ve worked out that it’s also soul-fulfillingly selfish – since by paying our passions forward, we always receive much more in return.
But Christmas is next week – this week, I had an early present from an Uncle: a bottle of Mata Taniwha Smoky Ale. We’d shot-the-shit a week earlier about his trip to The Freehouse in Nelson, an epiphenal experience that had clearly changed his impression about What Beer Can Be. After returning from Nelson, he’d promptly bought six Taniwhas, and broke me off a bottle since he knew I’d appreciate it. And appreciate it I did – the subtle-as-a-sledgehammer smoke was accompanied by a big, sticky, burnt toffee body. It’s a hangi in a glass – which is unsurprising, since Mata toast the grain that goes into Taniwha in an actual hangi pit, along with some kumara and potato for good measure. It’s deliciously different – and well-worth a try.
Since share is best followed with alike, I re-paid the debt a few days later; I took a rigger of Yeastie Boys Golden Perch to a whānau gathering, and split it with Uncle Taniwha plus other family and friends. Golden Perch was by far the most normal Yeastie Boys beer I’ve ever had; it’s a quaffable 4.4% EPA, with all the hallmarks of a high-quality pale ale. I thought it was quite bitter – ‘but in a good way’, as Phil and George would say (Messrs Cook and Langlands, respectively; the Brains and Brawn behind the exceptional Beer Diary Podcast). It’s a delicious, easy-going, session-strength beer – and thus is a perfect accompaniment to a summer’s day picnic. Or 4th Birthday Party barbeque.
Yakking in the kitchen about bitterness, contract brewing and the price of beer in Australia with people who probably wiped Poo from my neonatal Bum is pretty special. And that’s the thing about good beer: it has the power to bring people together in a way that conversation-lubricating Background Booze just doesn’t. Good beer can exist in the foreground as a focal point of conversation – and can even act as the glue that holds a fragile, neglected friendship together.
Whether a (hygienic) mouthful or a full glass, sharing a delicious beer with someone who you suspect may appreciate it is truly a magical thing. This week I picked up a can of Garage Project Mon P’tit Chou – a Farmhouse Ale with a stonking-big body and very-welcome subtle funk. As I have done with nearly every beer over the past 25 weeks, I handed it to my wife for a sip – a practice I’ve adopted for two primary reasons: firstly, I like to steal her excellent tasting notes (see ‘burnt toffee’ descriptor for Taniwha Smoky Ale above); but more accurately, it’s because a Joy Shared is truly a Joy Doubled.
I’m pleased to report that the previous 25 weeks have utterly changed my relationship with beer. Metaphorically, I feel like I’ve leapt out of a paradigm and viewed it from above – a necessary step for anyone to take before they can realise they were stuck in a paradigm to begin with. It’s a Blue Pill-Red Pill situation, but without the lousy sequels.
And my change has been infectious; sharing good beer (and talking about it incessantly) seems to be affecting those around me, too. I guess a passion for delicious beer is like a virus – or more appropriately, a probiotic for the soul. A mouthful of Yeastie Boys, Mata or Garage Project can change a paradigm from ‘Lets Get Pissed!’ to ‘Lets Suck the Marrow of Life!’ – and to that end, I heartily recommend sharing such passion with anyone who you think is deserving.
Just try not to be a wanker.
* * * * *
Anyway, that’s it. The end of the Beer Money Blog experiment. Which is probably a good thing – it was getting a wee-bit weird and a whole-lot wanky / preachy towards the end.
As promised at the outset of this debacle, I still have some ‘awards’ to give out – which I feel slightly uncomfortable about, since it’s kinda-counter to the take-home message that this thing ended-up espousing. But I’ll think of some slightly strange categories to keep it interesting – and also briefly tease the next project that I’d like to start in the new year.
But until next week – Merry Christmas!