Category Archives: Opinion

Five songs about beer that should be better known…

The Grammy Awards were held this week, and none of the Thirstyboys were in attendance. However, to mark the occasion we consulted with The Jesuit, our resident man of the cloth and music guru. We came up with the following five tunes about beer that may not have won Grammy Awards but should be better known.

1. There stands the glass – Webb Pierce

2. Give me a pig foot and a bottle of beer – Bessie Smith

3. Beer for breakfast – The Replacements

4. Bubbles in my beer – Bob Willis and the Texas Playboys

5. What made Milwaukee famous made a loser out of me – Jerry Lee Lewis

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Seven reasons why we didn’t get a SOBA card sooner…

For at least two years now, possibly longer, a few of the Thirsties have been flashing around their SOBA cards, and bartenders have squinted at me across the bar asking “Are you a SOBA member?…are you a SOBA member?” They would shake their heads as week after week I would fail to produce a SOBA card.


SOBA is the Society Of Beer Advocates, “an independent, non-profit society whose main aim is promoting a wider availability of better quality beer.” Their slogan is “beer for all the right reasons”. As is often said, membership has its benefits and these vary from place to place, region to region. For example, depending on what establishment you are drinking at and what day of the week it is, you can get between 10% and 25% off your purchases of tap beers on presentation of your card. SOBA publish a magazine called The Pursuit of Hoppiness offering beer related news, reviews, articles and other stuff you’d expect to see from a serious society. They even have t-shirts, caps and glassware…

Anyway, I (and one or two others) finally decided to apply for SOBA membership. I put in my application and within a few days I received in the mail a membership card, a letter and even a cockadoody badge! I have since saved a few dollars, (membership will pay for itself very quickly) and I feel like I am taking on the pursuit of hoppiness with greater purpose in what beer scribe Martin Craig describes as the “Golden age of craft beer in New Zealand”. Why did I (we) wait so long? I canvassed the SOBA members and non-members around the table and we came up with the following Seven reasons why some of us didn’t get a SOBA card sooner, and why some of us probably won’t get a SOBA card ever…

1.We ‘re not cool enough

2.We’re not cheap

3.We have more money than brains

4.SOBA used to have the reputation of taking months to get the card to you (they don’t)

5.We’re idle

6.We have too many damn cards in our wallets already…Snapper card, Life Pharmacy card; Coffee card; Mini Coopers card; Farmers Beauty card; Unity Bookstore card; A (dead) Real Groovy Records Card….


Click this link to see the recently announced Society of Beer Advocates Award Winners 2013 

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There is some amazing effort going into presenting and marketing craft beers. Beer label design is getting as artsy and crafty as the brewers and the beers they sell. Among the growing local and international beer selections in your local store or bar, awesomely designed labels have the job of making you see the beers, buy the beers and then drink the beers.

In no particular order, here are five tap/bottle labels that impressed the Thirsties and friends in 2013…

Speakeasy Prohibition Ale (Speakeasy Ales and Lagers)

an American style amber ale

“Look at it…it has all the elements right there…” The proprietor

Remedy Deebles Pale Ale (Remedy Brewing Co.)

The 2012 SOBA National Homebrewing Competition- Champion beer ( we consumed it, haiku-ed it and enjoyed it in Sept 2013)

“Evocative old time theming – it’s for the hop deficient and apparently guaranteed to be absolutely genuine…” Malice

Hops on Pointe (Garage Project)

Brewed to celebrate the world’s first ‘Beer Ballet’ called Bier Halle performed by the Royal New Zealand Ballet

“simple and elegant, the font has some of the sinuousity of the dance” jesuit


Pinky and the Grain (Funk Estate)

This 8.8% Saison is brewed with pink peppercorns…

“the great naming, the cute design…” unnamed hospitality worker


Wendy (Yeastie Boys/Lobethal)

a Belgian tea stout – haiku-ed

“I like dogs…I like the combination of a cute little dog and a stupid name…” ladypiemaker

“It makes me smile inside..”GLB

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My Year of Beer (+ free bonus cake recipe)

Text: The Lady Pie Maker

October marks the first anniversary of the foundation of the Thirstyboys’ Ladies Auxiliary, which means I have  been heading down the stairs to Hashigo Zake most Tuesday evenings for the past 12 months. As such, the Thirsties asked me to reflect on my first year of beer.

While I happily sipped shandies made by my uncle when I was 10, the taste of beer never appealed as I moved into my teens, student years and beyond. Kegs, yard glasses, six packs, pints and halves were all foreign concepts. I grew to look down on beer, and beer drinkers to boot. Tui naturally had a lot to answer for. I thought beer was beer, and I didn’t like it or the culture that surrounded it –  that was until I was lured into Hashigo’s basement one evening by a Thirsty Boy. While I stubbornly clung to my chardonnay at first, eventually I began to brave each week’s new release – a sip here and there, and eventually a half of my very own.

A Singaporean Jungle Beer jolted me to my senses. How surprisingly delicious. I could like beer. I had found my beer, except that it was a one off special keg, so within an hour of being found I was lost again.  A few weeks later a porter by the Garage Project, famously described by the Draughtsman as like ‘drinking a whole f&#%$ Christmas cake’, made me realise I well and truly preferred the dark side to the light.  2013 became the year of the great imperial porter.

On a succession of amiable Tuesday’s, when the topic of conversation is always and often only about beer, I have learned the following:

Beer is not just beer. Beer comes in an amazing array of styles and flavours, and is made from all sorts of weird things from chillies to avocado leaves and weasel poo. Who would have thought?


Weasel poo, or more correctly civet cat poo featuring highly desirable excreted coffee beans.

Despite expanding my drinking horizons considerably, I still don’t like drinking across the spectrum (unlike Malice). I like imperial porters on the whole, and the occasional Saison – which is just a nice word to say as well as tasting a little like chardonnay.

'The Luggage Porter'. Post war tin toy.

‘The Luggage Porter’. Post war tin toy.

On a cautionary note, however, three imperial porters in a row is simply one porter too many. It can only lead to trouble. I am yet to find my sessionable beer.

Beer doesn’t only go with rugby and racing. Beer goes with poetry and great conversation, and best of all – with cheese.

Cover of Rod Derrett’s classic 1965 record, Rugby, racing and beer.

Cover of Rod Derrett’s classic 1965 record, Rugby, racing and beer.

Craft brewers are an inventive, irreverent and interesting breed, culturally engaged and culturally playful. I like it.

blanket man

Wellington in a Pint winners, 2012.

Beer bars no longer have sticky floors, and are pretty convivial places just to be. Some even have flowers.

Mikkeller's Bar in Copenhagen - a fist-banging free space designed by Femme Regionales

Mikkeller’s Bar sans punters – a fist-banging free space designed by Femme Regionales

Beer and style can go together (see Beervana 2013).

Beervana 063

Stephen dressed for a Sherlock adventure at Beervana 2013.

Wine might have legs, but beer has Belgian lace.

Beer makes a mighty fine baking ingredient.

The MightyThirsty Cake, otherwise known as a porter chocolate cake best served with porter syrup and 'clouds' of cream.

The MightyThirsty Cake, otherwise known as a porter chocolate cake best served with porter syrup and ‘clouds’ of cream.

In thanks to my year of beer, here is the recipe for the truly magnificent MIGHTYTHIRSTY CAKE


100 grams each of raisons and dried pitted dates and prunes

250 mls porter beer (I used Three Boys – get a 500ml bottle as you’ll need more later)

2 Tbl brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon


6 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

175 grams caster sugar

200 gram ground almonds

30 grams cocoa, sifted in theory

1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice

1 tsp baking powder


250 ml Porter beer

160 grams brown sugar

1 cinnamon stick


FRUITY BIT: Chop fruit, pop in a medium sauce pan with other fruity ingrediants. Bring the porter to boil, and simmer for 10 mins, stirring every now and again. Cool for 5 mins and then wizz in a blender. Cool some more.

CAKEY BIT: Whisk eggs, vanilla and sugar in a big bowl and add wizzed fruity mixture. Combine almonds, cocoa, 5 spice, baking powder, and then add to egg/fruit mixture.

Pour into a 22cm spring form tin that has been lined with baking paper. Bake for 40 mins, or until skewer comes out clean, at 170 degrees. Cool in the tin. Pop on a plate.

SYRUPY BIT: Put all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to boil, and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Simmer vigorously for about 10 mins or until reduced and thick and syrupy (this took me more than 10 mins).

HOW TO EAT: Dust the MightyThirsty Cake with icing sugar, and serve each slice with a dollop of whipped cream and a generous splash of syrup. Serves 10 to 12 in theory.

BEER MATCH: Sam from Hashigo Zake, after conducting a professional tasting, recommends pairing your MightyThirsty Cake with a glass of Left Coast Voodoo Stout.

A CAKE YOU EAT WHEN: feeling mighty.

A glass of Voodoo – the perfect MightyThirsty Cake match.


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If Television shows were beers…

Breaking Bad, the stress inducing American crime drama series, would have to be some huge Imperial stout that lays you out among the daisies and offers you no redemption. None. Try the Liberty ‘Never Go Back’ Imperial Oat Stout 10.6%. “I can’t remember that beer, so it’s probably a good example…”GBM

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Star Trek (the original series) would be a beer that is unique, more than a little crazy and possibly with the aroma of horse sweat. It has to be Orval. “What do you mean by horse sweat?” Malice


Coronation Street the long running British soap opera, would be a slightly stale best bitter like John Smiths Bitter – now owned by Heineken UK.

The Thick of It , the British comedy series set in government would be an angry Scottish beer like Orkney Brewery’s Skull splitter… yeah, that’s right.

Downton Abbey, the English period drama series, would be a beer that is light and frothy, but aspiring to a depth and complexity it hasn’t earnt like the MOA  range (caveat: “we like their Imperial stout…” Jesuit)


Danger Mouse the animated cartoon series, would be a beer that is fruity and surprisingly adult like F. Boon Kriek

Campbell Live the New Zealand current affairs show, would be a beer you don’t finish like…(finish this sentence)

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