Beer Fit for Our Queen

June 17th, 2014

It is not often one receives an invitation to a special event hosted by the British High Commissioner. So unlikely in fact, especially given the event was a craft beer and whisky tasting, that I had initially thought the email was an elaborate phishing scheme attempting to take advantage of my one (or two) weaknesses. Also, the email arrived while I was celebrating another glorious day of Melbourne’s Good Beer Week. The combination of my suspicion and my mind’s haziness meant that the invitation soon slipped my memory. A few days later when I was back at work in NZ, a colleague’s mention of a wedding invitation reminded me, and my curiosity overcame my suspicion. If there was free beer to be enjoyed then no amount of money siphoned from my bank account was going to get in the way of that.

And it wasn’t just any free beer. The logos on the invitation were three great craft beer names: Yeastie Boys, Epic, and Good George. Yes, New Zealand beers at the British High Commission, particularly ironic given Neil Miller’s investigations last year into beer being served at New Zealand High Commissions around the world.

These breweries are the three New Zealand breweries who have been invited to brew in the UK for the Weatherspoon Real Ale Festival over the last five years. This provided the British connection. British High Commissioner, Vicki Treadell, a beer lover, put on a mini beer festival of the local versions of beers they had brewed in the UK. As an added treat, Yeastie Boys Stu and Sam were pouring a cask of Gunnamatta that had been brewed for the festival this year and specially shipped out from England for the night.

Thank you, Mrs Treadell, for being such a tremendous host, and thanks to your wonderful staff. The beers were delicious, all the more enjoyable for being shared with Wellington’s beer-loving crowd in your fabulously old-world, wood-panelled and foreign-gift-laden residence, Homewood. Many portraits were taken with the wonderful portrait of our Queen, although she did induce some finger-waggling from noted republican and beer writer, Martin Craig. It was a pleasure to catch up with so many old friends plus finally put some faces to the words of some interesting beer writers whom I had only ever read.

Apparently Trevor Mallard was also there but as he is not a common sight in the craft beer scene I didn’t recognise him. His presence was balanced nicely by a distinguished beer blogger whose political leanings are so pronounced that his regular walk home from the Malthouse is often prolonged by his stubborn refusal to turn left.

The Yeastie Boys, Stu McKinlay and Sam Possenniskie, with British High Commissioner, Vicki Treadell, and some cask-conditioned Gunnamatta.

Luke Nicholas from Epic, Kelly Ryan, ex-Good George, The Yeastie Boys, Stu McKinlay and Sam Possenniskie, with British High Commissioner, Vicki Treadell and some of her staff.

The Yeastie Boys, Stu McKinlay and Sam Possenniskie, with British High Commissioner, Vicki Treadell.

The Yeastie Boys, Stu McKinlay and Sam Possenniskie, posing with British High Commissioner, Vicki Treadell.

Beer writers Hadyn Green and Martin Craig.

Fork & Brewer brewer, Lester Dunn.

Fork & Brewer brewer, Lester Dunn.

To steal Stu’s line from Twitter, “how to know when you’ve stayed at a party thirty minutes longer than you should have”.


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