Goodbye Nelson Mail

We were plotting our anniversary column, as we do, and since we have been at this for five years we had a lot to look back on. But then we got the news that this would also be our last beer column for the Nelson Mail, so we’ll just add in a “Thanks for the memories” recap.

First, thanks to our editors Alan Clarke and Paul McIntyre. They inherited us when they took their roles, and have been nothing but supportive. They let us write anything we wanted and trusted us to write what readers wanted to read. We were never censored, nor told what to write. Trust us – that is a rare luxury.

Next, thanks to the Nelson and New Zealand brewers and beer community. We were beer people before we came to New Zealand, and while we wanted to find good beer, we really hoped to find the same camaraderie that we had always known. We can happily say that every brewer in town has been exceedingly generous with their time, and often their beer. Getting behind the scenes and grilling you about your backgrounds, your recipes, your dreams, we have learned so much and it has been more fun than is probably reasonable. Moreover, you all feel like real friends and we have had millions of great belly laughs and plenty of good drinking sessions together. Word of warning – we aren’t going to stop pestering you just because we don’t have this column.

The commercial beer community goes far beyond brewers and we have been very fortunate to get to meet so many interesting and passionate people from hop growers to pub owners to brewing suppliers. And with New Zealand being small enough, we have friends from Canterbury malt growers to Auckland brew kit producers. We have learned more about more businesses than we could imagine and it has been fascinating.

And the beer loving community extends well beyond that. We meet beer people in the most random places, and you know who you are. We have the regular experience of seeing “normal” people’s eyes glaze over as our beer tales tumble out one after another, but you all have kept right up with us. Thanks for that.

We like the act of writing, and it is rewarding in its own right by creating new thoughts and giving completion. But writing is most rewarding when we have successfully communicated something to another person. And so we especially thank the readers. When someone in the supermarket tells us about trying a beer we wrote about, it makes what we are doing really worthwhile. And of course without you, the Nelson Mail would not have let us write this column for the past five years.

We will keep home brewing. We will keep judging (don’t forget to check out the Home Brewing Award Winners at the A&P Show on 22 – 23 Nov!) And we will probably keep writing about beer, because we can’t help ourselves. This is our beer site and you can sign up to the right for our newsletter.

This leads back to our anniversary theme – we will keep writing about beer because the future of beer and brewing in New Zealand is still playing out. Craft is becoming the new normal. A few multinationals still sell the majority of the beer in this country, but their big sellers are losing ground while craft beers are gaining ground. It has become less and less common to have a fully tied bar with beer from just one brewery – people expect choice. And flavour. With the changing role of alcohol in society, more drinkers choose a few tasty beers over a lot of easy chugging beer.

And the role of beer is changing in other ways. Homebrewing has become a craft hobby, not just a cheap option. We now have beer tourism, with very real economic impacts from projects like the Nelson Craft Brewing Capital. Beer is food. We have good beer showing up on the menus of good restaurants, increasingly with food pairings. With men and women drinking together, we have more and more women drinking beer and making beer.

So, thanks for all the suds, and let’s keep watching this revolutionary transformation together.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Nelson Mail

About Fritz and Maria

Fritz and Maria have been living, drinking and brewing together for over 20 years. As beer commentators and educators they strive to create a beerocracy where people exercise their palates by voting for quality in the marketplace. Their interests include the personalities, business, and culture of craft beer worldwide. As distillers for Rough Hands, they loved being at the place where magic meets science. Fritz and Maria can be found speaking at beery events, holding guided tastings, judging competitions.

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