My native New Zealand has always been known as a beer drinking stronghold. although from the 1980s I saw wine begin to make inroads. Rugby, Racing & Beer was like a catch phrase for NZ.

Men drank beer, women (and those batting for the other team) drank lager.

The principal beers were DB (Dominion Breweries), and Lion, although there were others like Leopard and Steinlager which were mainly exported. A self respecting Kiwi wouldn’t be caught drinking such poncy stuff. Then of course you had the Scots contingent down in Dunedin that had their own Speights and the Waikato had something strange too.

Shock, horror; I have just been browsing NZ beer and what I remember has all but gone.

Twenty years and it’s gone.

One more nail in the coffin, proof that I am well on the downside of the proverbial hill and gathering spead. This DB label adorned many a bottle that passed through my appreciative hands, I found on an auction site; it was auctioned off in August this year.

Now they have stuff like Moa… never heard of it. The last I knew was that it was a big extinct chicken.

Moa Blanc (fancy wheat beer), Moa Pale Ale as well as Original. Mind you I can see the marketing ploy there; after a few drinks you shout, “More!” and the way we Kiwis have butchered our mother tongue, it would sound like, “Moa!” so that’s what you’d get. Crafty bastards.

Now they have so many different beers, there’s this stuff called ‘craft beer’, which comes from craft breweries, not overly sure what that is, but I’ll find out on Wikipedia, apparently craft beer is the product from a micro brewery.

So the Kiwi world has been taken over by ‘craft beers’ which I read as ‘higher priced’.

Craft Beers

I just read that New Zealand now has about 50 breweries, so there’s a lot of ‘craft beer’ out there. And the ‘craft beers’ are referred to as ‘Premium’; did I not say higher priced?

I just had another shock. Last year traditional ‘uncrafted’ beer was $12 a bottle (750ml), at least in May 2010. No wonder I became an ex-pat, I’m grizzling because my beer, Brahma (Brazilian beer), recently went from R$3 to R$3.50 (US$1.75) a bottle (600ml – pint+/-); I will grizzle no more.

Produced at Wigram, a suburb of my hometown, Christchurch

This post was actually prompted by a post on Mal’s Blog about New Zealand Beer, I made a few comments and got to thinking. This is how blogging goes, you live, look, google and learn.

There’s a good concise history of the first New Zealand beer here. Worth a click.

So it appears that New Zealand beers have come of age. I am astounded. I knew that the NZ govt had (mistakenly) closed Wigram air force base, but had no idea that the name lived on in my drink of choice.

So there you have it, some memoirs of a beer drinking Kiwi who has been away from home for twenty years.