Shouting, “lager, lager lager – mega, mega, mega, white thing …” So went the lyrics to British band Underworlds’ 1995 hit Born Slippy. It would appear that those sentiments have been echoed recently in the local beer market. The much-maligned lager was a relative newcomer to the beer revolution but quickly became the biggest selling beer style worldwide. Often criticised for its perceived blandness, many drinkers have developed a love/hate relationship with this style. They hate it when that moment of beer sophistication strikes them at a bar, but they love it after mowing the lawns.
With the sweltering temperatures experienced in Aotearoa this summer, drinkers have been reacquainting themselves with this most quaffable of beer styles. Local brewers have a great history and reputation for making wonderful lagers. Sawmill Pilsner is a past NZBG Gold Medal winner and Waipu’s McLeod’s Brewery brew the current trophy holder, Longboarder Lager. More recently, we have seen Warkworth brewery 8 Wired enter this market with their first ever lager German pilsner, which became the fastest-selling beer they have ever produced. I sense confusion sneaking in as you read this. Yes, pilsner is a lager style, one that has its origins in the Bohemian city of Pilzen. The original pilsner, Pilsner Urquell, can be found on tap at the Puhoi Hotel.
Many New Zealand pilsners tend to be over-hopped for my liking and, while regular readers of this column will be aware of my penchant for all things hoppy, I feel that pilsners don’t need to display such traits. This is where the locally made pilsners win for me. Lagers shouldn’t be over-complicated.
Finally, this month sees the fine establishment that my wife, Silke, and I own, Tahi Bar, celebrate its 10th anniversary. It’s now one of the oldest surviving continuously-owned craft beer bars in the country. We have always championed the little guy and strongly supported small innovative New Zealand brewers, and will continue to do so. The craft breweries have challenged multi-corporate brewing giants for a slice of our hard-earned cash and in doing so have changed the way many of us drink beer. We are extremely proud to have been a part of this evolving revolution. These days we are surrounded by superb, small award-winning breweries. Small people aspire, big companies acquire. Cheers to good beer.
Ian Marriott, Tahi Bar