Saturday, June 27, 2009


Back in the days, you could tell where a man came from by the beer they drank. Aucklanders drank Lion beer, primarily Lion Red. Hamiltronians drank Waikato. Anywhere north of Taupo in the provinces was either Lion Brown, Lion Red or Waikato country. South of Taihape to Wellington, Dominion Breweries reigned. The Mainlanders drank Speights and Dagg knows what else. Canterbury Draught for all I know.

It went without saying, of course, that your own provincial piss was the very best and all the others were complete shit. No-one in Palmy, not even the nine year olds, drank Lion Red. DB Draught yeah, Double Brown, yeah. Lion Red, ya fucken' Aucklander. The main lager was Leopard, and that would go only if there was absolutely nothing else to drink.

That was up to the early 80's anyway. One strange side-effect of the Rogernomics period was that lager became popular. People stuck in the 80's drink Steinlager. This morphed after the share market crash of '87, when the height of sophistication was to drink any other lager but Steinlager. Sol Bar sold Sol Beers, Coronas with mandatory lime wedges were everywhere. Even Budweiser had a short but slight impact on the scene. OE cred was enhanced by the Euro chic of ordering a Heineken or a Stella Artois.

Up until around '94, all Heineken was imported along with the rest of them. Then a licence was obtained to make the stuff up in Auckland. The retail price dipped only a little, but essentially the public swallowed the huge change in product quality. Instead of drinking Dutch water, you were drinking a mainly NZ facsimile. Stella Artois wasn't too many years behind til that too was made here, licensed at a premium that the label conscious happily ignored.

So, what's the point? Stella Artois is an Auckland wank drink. There's a fine to and fro between Deborah Hill Cone and Barnsley Bill elsewhere, and I'll go with the 'Cone on this one. If you must drink real beer grown for local conditions and not some cheap knock-off, go for an Epic or Tuatara. They make more of the local combo of hops and water than any of that derivative shit.