More Craft Choices, Nelson!

beer Without BordersOur friends at Beer Without Borders will be visiting the Nelson Tasman region over the next few days. BWB is a craft beer importer and distributor, representing a number of NZ brands as well as importing from around the globe: Australia, Japan, Europe and the US.
As we thought about them doing a sales trip through our region, focused around a tasting in the uber craft supportive Richmond Fresh Choice, we surprisingly came up a bit blank. We quickly ran through the other craft supportive outlets around, and realised that the vast majority of them focus on local or top of the South. Free House has regular offerings from all over NZ, and has put on a few imported beers, but never a US or Japanese, to our knowledge. Urban has cans from some North Island brewers, but no imported craft we’ve noticed. The Mouitere Inn, Deville and Bel-Aire seem game for almost anything, but maybe have never been asked.
To be clear, the number of places you can get local craft beer is important and has improved significantly over the years. But we couldn’t name a single restaurant that stocks imported craft beer. Maybe we just haven’t noticed, but no one has mentioned it to us either.
Beer writer Geoff Griggs regularly reminds readers that it’s our responsibility to ask, so it’s a bit embarrassing to think that we’ve never expected to find these beers in local restaurants. We have celebrated the Fresh Choices for stocking more and more craft imports, which we drink at home. We have asked in bars and restaurants about their craft beer and craft spirit selections, but we have never said, “And what about craft imports?”
We will give ourselves a bit of a pass since we are American and we never want to be the ugly American demanding American stuff everywhere. But given the booming demand for craft imports in the Fresh Choices, we think we aren’t the only ones who’d like to have a hoppy West Coast IPA once in awhile when dining out. Or an Australian Belgian for that matter.
We will give Nelson a bit of a pass, too, since these options are still not all that common in restaurants in the NZ urban centres. But Nelson is the Craft Brewing Capital because locals love craft beer. Having access to a wider range of craft beers will broaden local palates which will free local brewers to experiment with a wider range of styles.
We vividly recall Matt Duncan at Founders saying he had never tasted an American Pale Ale when he first brewed Fair Maiden in that style. Now, we are watching home brewers ravaging the Fresh Choice shelves in search of inspiration. We see them become obsessed with one flavour or another and we imagine they would order the Forbidden Islands or Tsunami everywhere as they try to understand it from every angle.
And it might not hurt the bottom line to make the hordes of ugly American craft beer tourists this summer feel a little more at home when perusing a menu…

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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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