Blog of the Month: Water & Hops & Malt & Yeast

March 7, 2012, by Crafty Pint
Blog of the Month: Water & Hops & Malt & Yeast

In recent weeks, you may have spotted an article or three on The Crafty Pint from Nick O. Nick is a Kiwi now living in Sydney who has submerged himself in the local craft beer scene then made himself known to us. 

As well as acting as the NSW Crafty envoy, he writes his own blog on the beer world, and here he is to tell us all about it (and himself)…

Name of Blog:
Water & Hops & Malt & Yeast

What I write about:
Anything to do with craft beer in Australia and New Zealand, no matter how loosely affiliated. Recently I’ve attempted to compare the product life cycle of craft beer to that of a Sega Mega Drive, stood in line for ages to ask one the world’s most legendary surfers what his favourite beer was (turned out he was 35 years sober), ran experiments in adding beer to coffee and finding The Meaning of Hoppiness. It’s not exactly prize-winning journalism, but it’s not meant to be. I’m not an expert – I just have fun with beer.

When it started:
After arriving in Australia, slightly unintentionally, towards the end of 2011.

What you do when not blogging:
Quite honestly, thinking about beer and interesting ways to convince people to try it consumes a lot of time. Not to mention drinking it. To fund that part, I fumble my way around writing about IT software and managing social media, which is utterly remarkable considering I didn’t even know how to use Twitter until a couple of months ago. I’d very much like to say I’m just a quick learner, but I actually failed University. Twice.

Why did you start writing the blog?
Having gotten so used to having fabulous New Zealand craft beer at my doorstep, I foolishly assumed that everywhere was like that. Turning up in Sydney I felt a bit like a beer junkie without a dealer. I pretty quickly found the right places to go to get my fix, but that didn’t seem enough so I dedicated my meagre resources to helping spread the gospel of good beer to the lager-swilling heathens. It was one of those “I think I can make a difference” moments. I should mention how unusual this all is for me, being inherently lazy and all.

Why should people read it?
I try – emphasis on ‘try’ – to write in a way that someone with only a passing interest in beer might read a story, maybe learn a little, have a laugh and be prompted to try something new. I take an attitude that to get someone to show an interest in something, it’s more about entertainment than the actual message. For example, if someone says a beer is ‘abundant in its smokey aroma, with a hint of charcoal on the back of the palate’, that gets filed my brain in the folder marked ‘Boring’. However, if someone tells me that this beer is ‘so smokey that it’s like the time I fell face-first into the cooled embers of a campfire’, that’s a bit more interesting to me and I’ll be off to the liquor store. I’m just doing my bit to encourage people to drink craft beer and, for better or worse, that’s the method I’m trying out. This rather rambling and chaotic approach is also quite a convenient method to disguise my rather limited beer knowledge.

What do you love / enjoy most about beer?
Beer is dangerously captivating if you start to take an interest in what you’re drinking. The amount of people out there that aren’t aware of things like the fundamental differences in beer styles is staggering, but I’m heartened at how willing people are to take an interest when I’m babbling on about why they should drink craft beer. Sure, I’m increasing my risk of mononucleosis by forcing people to take a sip of my pint to see if they like it, but it satisfies the soul to think I’m making a small difference.

Your favourite Australian beer?
How to answer an impossible question? Across a range of categories it’d be Doctor’s Orders Zephyr, Kooinda Full Nelson, Murray’s Retro Rocket and Holgate Temptress. They’re all beers that have surprised me for various reasons, but very much in a good way.

Favourite non-Australian beer?
Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude. Only ever had it once, couldn’t finish it, took hours to get the taste from my mouth, it occasionally haunts my dreams and I’ll quite likely never have it again. But I really love the way they pushed the boundaries. As a representation of the fun and crazy directions craft beer can go, I love that beer.

Favourite place to enjoy a beer?
Any place where you’re not really allowed but you sneak it in anyway; libraries, movie theatres, public parks and beaches, trains, art galleries, and especially wine-only BYO restaurants – once you’ve ordered, pop the top and they’ll be reluctant to kick you out. It’s a cheeky little thrill that makes the beer taste that much better.

Hopes for beer in Australia?
For a gutsy craft brewery to pick a fight with a big brewer over something trivial that gets national headlines – everyone always backs the little local guy and the big foreign corporation always comes out looking worse off. You can’t buy that sort of publicity.

As well as reading Nick’s blog, you can follow him on Twitter.

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