Have you hugged a brewer today?
Thursday, 16 July 2009 11:56

July 18 2008 – a day that will live forever in the opposite of infamy. 

That date was the first International Brewers Day and was marked around the world by small groups of beer aficionados in various cerevisaphilic ways.   International Brewers Day is the creation of legendary American beer writer Jay R Brooks – author of the Brookston Beer Bulletin - who was inspired by a “Have You Hugged a Brewmaster Today?” sticker on the brewery door at San Francisco’s 21st Amendment. 

I’ve actually drunk Moylander Double IPA with Jay and can confirm that he is thoroughly good people.  I’m proud to be one of his 463 Facebook Friends.  I’ve also been to the San Francisco 21st Amendment brewpub immediately after watching my first ever live game of baseball at the stadium down the round.  On that topic, I packed one of the plastic ball park beer cups as a souvenir in my suitcase for the trip back to New Zealand.  Now, American customs require all bags to be unlocked and, much to my chagrin, I found when I finally unpacked that the only item removed from my belongings by someone at the airport was a plastic Giants beer cup.  Not that I’m still bitter.

Anyway, Jay had the idea of starting a holiday to “honour the men and women who make the great beer we love. “  He explained “we probably won’t see cards at Hallmark anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.  Brewers have given so many of us the pleasure of their artistry and enriched our lives with their beer since civilization began. So I think it’s time we recognized their efforts by celebrating their lives, their commitment and their craft.  We’re all beer people, but without the brewers what would we be drinking?”

July 18 was not chosen randomly.  While that date is also the birthday of WG Grace, Nelson Mandela and Sir Richard Branson, Jay selected it as International Brewer’s Day because it is the feast day for Saint Anou of Metz who is better known as Saint Arnold, patron saint of brewer.  Saint Arnie beat out Augustine of Hippo, Luke the Apostle, Nicholas of Myra (also known as Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus) and Good King Wenceslas who are all accredited with patron saint of brewers’ status.  Another factor in Jay decision was that 18 July is “in the middle of summer — arguably beer’s high season” which doesn’t work quite so well in frosty little New Zealand.

The basic point of International Brewers Day is raise awareness and appreciation of the men and women who work hard to create the greatest beverage in the world and a drink we all enjoy.

In New Zealand, one of the most experienced and most talented brewers is Dick Fyfe from the Dux de Lux.  The Dux in Christchurch is a must-visit bar and the only reason I’ve ever got into a cab and demanded it take me to the Arts Centre.  I’m even willing to overlook the lack of red meat in order to enjoy a Nor’ Wester Pale Ale in their massive courtyard.  The Dux now operates in Christchurch and Queenstown and for many years their beers were only available on premises.

These days however, a number of Dux beers are bottled and available in Wellington.  Malthouse has the full range which Dick somehow coaxes out of two of the smaller breweries you will ever see.  Currently in the fridge are (in order of merit) Nor’ Wester Pale Ale, Sou’ Wester Stout, Hereford Bitter (which is a dark lager), Dux Lager (which is a pale lager), every other beer ever made, then Ginger Tom.  I’m sorry but Ginger Tom is my beer nemesis though some strange individuals apparently adore it (or at least pretend to just to aggravate me).

Nor’ Wester (6.5%) is undoubtedly the flagship of the Dux range.  Brewed in the style of an English strong pale ale, it is one of New Zealand’s finest beers.  There is a moreish combination of an inviting herbal nose, a firm body with hints of orange and stonefruit and a strong, resinous hop finish.  Nor’ Wester is served in a 500ml bottle with a picture of a weather pattern on it. 

On July 18, we should celebrate craft brewers like Dick Fyfe by raising a pint or two of their products.  Old Czech sayings always seem to have something appropriate to say about beer related topics and International Brewers Day is no exception - “Blessed is the mother who gives birth to a brewer.”

Cheers

 
Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine

Links

International Brewer’s Day - http://brewersday.org/
Brookston Beer Bulletin - http://brookstonbeerbulletin.com/
Drinking with Jay - http://www.themalthouse.co.nz/index.php/blog/67-the-true-power-of-bookbinder
Dux de Lux - http://www.thedux.co.nz/
Malthouse Facebook Group - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wellington/Malthouse/7084276173
Real Beer – http://www.realbeer.co.nz/blog/blog.html
Beer and Brewer Magazine - http://www.beerandbrewer.com/