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RealBeer.co.nz - Buyers Guide to Craft Beer in New Zealand

In an effort to help retailers in New Zealand to purchase a good selection of craft beers I am working on the document below. Would love to have any suggestions or input. Once it has been polished it will be released to the Liquor Trade.

Why do this? recently I have had a number of bars bitching at me about some "craft beers" they have stocked which people try once and hate on, then they have to try and sell the rest of it out. This also has the effect on new and potential craft beer drinkers not adventuring outside their comfort zone again because they got burned.

So hook in to it I want to see your comments. If first time craft beer drinkers have an awesome experience every time, they will buy again, and there will be more demand for more craft beer.




Buyers Guide
Craft Beer of New Zealand

Craft Beer made in New Zealand has all of a sudden become very interesting and many bar owners and liquor retailers are looking at providing a selection of what is available.

With 50 small breweries in New Zealand, and many making on average 5 beers each, this means there are potentially 250 beers you could add to your fridge. In most cases you will not have room for more then 6 or 12 new beers.

Here are some quick tips to getting a quality selection, and avoiding making a bad choice?

1. Award Winning Beers
Keep it simple. Stick with beers that have won awards. See www.brewnz.co.nz for latest results. So much choice, so little fridge space. (you need to note that of the 200+ entries from the Beer Awards only a third are worthy of medals, hence there are some problematic and poor quality beers out there)

2. Reputation for Quality
Sometimes you might be wiser to actually look at beers that have a consistent record of winning awards, or looking at the track record of a brewery and its ability to win awards for all its beers. Some brewers may get lucky once and ride on that win for 17 years.

3. Beers of Interest
Many craft breweries are make seasonal specials and interesting beers. Watch out for barrel aged beers, sour beers, fruit beers, and other strange ingredients. This definitely creates interest, trial and discussion about the diversity of beer.

4. Change is Good
To keep your customers interested and to always be fine tuning your selection, a good practice is to drop a couple of your slower moving beers and to try out a couple of new one. You might end up stocking your new biggest seller.

5. Support Your Local Brewery
Fresh beer is the best. Your local brewery is only going to prosper and improve their quality and selection with your support.

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For those risk averse publicans, they could start off with some of the "big name" craft brewers.
That is about 99% of publicans. I'd like to make it easier for them to make a good choice which leads to positive consumer reaction and increase in sales, and interest at the bar.
Point 5 is a good one that could be expanded to link into the first 4 points and the parochial nature of people
true, but some areas local breweries beer isn't going to give the locals a positive experience for craft beer, hence it is point 5.
True which is why i made reference to the first 4 points first
What a good idea. You addressed the issue I'd have with award winning beers (one off wonders) with point two. I might add to beers of interest that many of these have such strong character anyway that they might even be "safer" due to flaws making less of an impact.

Without detracting from the short, easy to read, informative style, is it worth a brief primer on things like delicate beers being more likely to suffer flaws with travel and storage? Or will that overcomplicate and possibly hurt the goal?

Maybe a good idea is to get the breweries to subscribe to this too, via the Guild, and try to come up with some kind of sale-able standard... now that IS a can of worms.
It would be great to have this endorsed by both SOBA and the Brewers Guild. But as you say it will open a can of worms. Many brewers think there beer is good when it is actually problematic. Who is the person to tell these brewers that there beers should not be presented to bars or bottle shop because the consumer is going to have a bad experience if they drink it.

Which was highlighted in an Auckland Beer Club I did last night which was a selection of six NZ Craft Lagers. When five of them were commented as "I wouldn't drink that" then there is a problem.
Who is the person to tell these brewers that there beers should not be presented to bars or bottle shop because the consumer is going to have a bad experience if they drink it.

A SOBA "brewery liason officer"? :) You're a brewer. I know you appreciate honest feedback. Telling someone something is good all the time helps nothing. Giving constructive criticism is (usually) appreciated in my experience anyway. There are always the odd "grumpy buggers" who just don't care, but at least if we're honest with them, there's nothing to stop us being honest with the public. I only see it as a problem when people provide one lot of feedback to a brewer ("Oh yeah, it's great!") and another to their friends/contacts ("Nah, don't drink that, it's nasty!").
Hang on...didnt Weka win a Gold Medal at the 2008 BrewNZ?

Using competition success does not guarantee quality when the competition is based on firstly 'Style' correctness, secondly 'Quality' and never 'Consistency'. And of course its well known that smaller brewers 'brew for competition' - add that little extra to the latest brew to further impress the judges!

I think Greig has something with a SOBA Brewery Liaison Officer...probably the only way to fully guarantee Quality and Consistency
Well since so few people read this forum I thought I would put it out there. I'm not going to spend half a day ringing these five breweries to talk through the experience, and to explain why they have these problems and how to fix them. If they want to ring then fine.

These were tasted blind at Suite Bar last night for Auckland Beer Club. the bartender was given the theme of NZ Craft lagers, and given four beers I wanted to try and added two others at random. No one knew what the brand of beer in the glass was and had to taste and judge it based on its merits. It was an excellent way of just talking about the beers characters without being swayed by the brand, and your personal perception of the brand.

Worst to least worse

- Mountain Lager - worty with other funked up flavours

- Weka Lager - didn't even recognize it, solventy, diacetyl

- Wigram Lager - burnt, cigarette character, possibly a burnt element note, and very husky, grainy taste

- Green Fern - diacetyl and DMS, (post edited here due to request) (Paddy/Dean if you have a problem then please contact me direct)

- Green Man - was best GM beer I've had but still not good, it was out of balance, harsh lingering bitterness, lacked malt and body and was overly spritzy

This was a pretty disappointing selection of NZ craft beer. The quality needs to be improved or people just aren't going to support craft beer.
Freedom of speech?????????
Exactly. I was very reluctant to make the deletion but it was easier to delete the comment than to continually get emails from Hugh requesting it to be deleted cause he was going to lose his agency to sell Green Fern in Auckland because Paddy/Dean didn't like what I had posted.


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