A path is formed by laying one stone at a time

April 27th, 2015

Saturday was the second birthday party of Golding’s Free Dive. We headed along for a couple of drinks amongst friends and the Golding’s family. Among the staff favourites put on for the party I tried many good strong and intensely-flavoured beers: 8 Wired Super Conductor, Kereru Velvet Boot, Ballast Point Victory at Sea, and Wild & Woolley Silver Cat Angry Gummy Beer White Stout, but it was the beer I had from the handpull after Phil Cook’s favourite, Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta, ran out that I enjoyed the most: Four Avenues Half Nelson. The antithesis of the others, lower alcohol and subtler flavours, which made for an incredibly nice contrast.

Inexplicably I had left my camera at home, an inexcusable oversight on my part, but it did mean I could relax and enjoy the moment (and the Darth Vader melted helmet cake). That didn’t stop my brain from imagining photos. A man sat down next to me and I couldn’t help thinking he would be a perfect subject for a new series of photos I’d like to take one day, if I ever have any spare time outside of my day job and The Beer Project.

By the time he got up to leave I had enough beer-fuelled courage to ask him what he did for a living (an important part of the future project) and if I could take his photo sometime. Thankfully I wasn’t too drunk or creepy enough for him to call security. He was a tattooist – Simon Morse. I remembered he was tattooing people at the Panhead stand at Beervana. I even have a photo of him doing it. He mentioned he also designs some of Panhead’s cool labels too.

While gardening yesterday I had a great idea (that’s where I tend to come up with a lot of good ideas. A lot of bad ones too, but if I’m still thinking about them while having a post-gardening beer I know they’re usually good ones). I should photograph Dr Morse sketching ideas for a new Panhead label. Then it would fit in with The Beer Project and I might actually find time to take them. Genius.

That night the mighty Facebook timeline algorithm decided to randomly show me a post from Simon: a pencil sketch of the designs for the new and beautiful Panhead Canheads. A quote from my favourite TV show popped into my head: “Gentlemen. When two separate events occur simultaneously pertaining to the same object in inquiry we must always pay strict attention.” It was a sign! (A sign that I was too late for to photograph those designs, but there will always be more labels.) Now to make it happen.

These events have also reminded me that I haven’t posted the photos I took of Mike Neilson at Panhead almost two years ago. My favourite photo from the shoot might be familiar. It was in my exhibition New Wellington Breweries at Hashigo Zake during Choice Beer Week in 2013, in my All Tomorrows Breweries exhibition at the Catfish bar during Melbourne’s Good Beer Week last year, and has appeared in a few publications and here on my blog of course. Here it is again, one of my all-time favourites.

It was a short shoot, just a couple of hours. I can get some great single shots on short shoots but to get a solid series about a brewery I prefer to spend a whole brew day or, even better, multiple visits, to get a much broader view and more inventive photos. Given that Panhead Brewery has grown considerably since then, it would be great to revisit them one day.

Here are some other favourites.

I love the rim lighting around Mike’s head and arms and the way the backlight highlights the water spray in this one.

Here I like the strong flash light being diffused by the malt bag.

Here’s a shot just for Dylan Jauslin. Mike pours a Port Road Pils (I think it was the first ever batch brewed in the new brewery). If only you could taste photos this would be a good one.

Check out the rest of the photos from the shoot.

August Update – Odds & Ends

August 12th, 2014

I have a few bits and pieces to report before the madness of the week leading up to Beervana starts taking up all of my time.

Thanks to those of you who purchased a print during my sale. I made enough for a fifth of a new camera, not as much as I’d hoped but that’s a damn good start. Running a print sale a week before going on holiday to the USA was probably a little over-ambitious but sometimes I need a good deadline to propel me into action. I even managed to hand-deliver all but one of them (my fans seem to be very much Wellington-based). I did underestimate the amount of work required, so that will be the cheapest you will ever see my prints, especially the smaller prints which take almost as much work as the larger sizes. I hope those who purchased enjoy the photos for many years. I will continue to work hard on my photography to become so well known that you can sell them at a huge profit when you retire or I cease to be.

Following the print sale, I spent the whole of July in the United States. I was acting as tour guide, driver, navigator (no one else could read a damn map!), photographer, and accommodation organiser for my Dad, aunty, sister, and a couple of my Dad’s friends as we road tripped across the USA from New York City to San Francisco (I was only three hours drive away from hand-delivering the last of my prints to San Diego but we didn’t quite have time to make the detour). I did manage to visit a few good bars and breweries along the way. A full report will come in my next post. The quick synopsis: Chicago was our favourite city, Proletariat in NYC was my favourite bar, and I definitely want to spend a lot more time in Colorado, Utah and Arizona (and I heard New Mexico was pretty damn cool too).

Proletariat, my favourite bar in New York City.

Justin, brewer at Funkwerks, Fort Collins, Colorado.

The doorman at Toronado, San Francisco.

If you’re into photography may I recommend a visit to the best camera store in the world, B & H Photo in New York City. I have ordered many things from them online so it was great to visit the physical store. It was bustling (they have over 5000 customers a day) and was even more exciting than the Lego Store (which my sister had to drag me out of). So many cool toys. I may not have been able to afford a new camera but I did pick up a year’s supply of ink for my photo printer for half what it costs in NZ.

Back in New Zealand, Beervana is almost upon us. That means it’s time for the Golding’s Free Dive Beer Goggles photo contest. Take an awesome beer-related photo and submit it to the contest (goldingsfreedive@gmail.com) by this Thursday. You may see your photo on the walls of Golding’s, plus you’ll be in to win some great beery prizes. I am judging this year so get your bribes in to the address on my Contact page. You’ve got one more day before the closing date.

At Beervana itself, the Pink Boots Society, supporters of women in the beer industry, will have their first New Zealand meeting, with special guest Denise Ratfield from San Diego (coincidentally the purchaser of my print that went to San Diego). Denise is the Social Media Committee Chair of the Pink Boots Society. On Monday Denise will brew a beer at Four Avenues with the NZ Pink Boots Society coordinator and Beer Baroness, Ava Wilson. Thanks to Ava’s generosity I will be heading down to Christchurch to photograph the brew day. I hope to have time to post some photos here next week, otherwise keep an eye out after Beervana.

Finally I need to put in a good word for beer writer and friend, Jules van Cruysen. He is running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to publish a book on the New Zealand craft beer scene, “kiwi CRAFT”. A book of this type is well overdue so I encourage you to support him: $30 will get you a copy of the book when it is finished but I’m sure more would be appreciated. There are many good rewards.

And that’s it for beery project news. Stay tuned for a post about the USA, photos from Christchurch, and then some Beervana coverage.

Print Sale

June 27th, 2014

UPDATE: orders are open for the rest of the day today (Monday, 30th of June). I got a bit busy over the weekend so I will be printing the photos tonight.

I have decided to have a quick little print sale to help fund a new camera. Because it is one of the tools of my trade I am offering a selection of my favourite photos of the tools of the brewing trade. These look beautiful as prints, even better than they look here.

The sale is on for a limited time. You have until lunchtime on Sunday, June 29th, to get your orders to me. I will print them on Sunday and get them sent to you early next week. To order email me at jed@thebeerproject.com with the print number and name and the size you would like. I will reply with payment instructions (from Friday night). There are special prices for three or more prints. All prices include shipping and GST. The prints are printed using pigment ink on archival paper. Signed on the back. Email me with any questions.

Size Price for 1 for three
6×4 $12 $30
7×5 (approx) $20 $50
A4 (approx) $60 $150
A3 (approx) $120 $300

If you live in the United States then the prices are the same but in US dollars instead of NZ dollars. I will ship them to you when I am in the US next month. The larger size is excluded though because it won’t fit safely in my bag. If you live anywhere other than NZ or the US get in touch and I’ll work out shipping prices but please note, I won’t be able to ship to other countries until August.

1. Heart beer. You can hang this one up either way.

2. Hydrometers

3. Steam

4. Space station (actually it’s a keg washer)

5. Ladder.

Why do I need a new camera? Well, my current camera is over five years old, which is an eternity in the digital era. Sensor design has come a long way in that time especially for performance in low light, which are the conditions most of my photos are taken. Also, recurring back problems have me looking for a lighter setup. My current favourite lens and camera combination weighs 1.5kg. The camera and lens I am looking at buying would be 700g. My back is thanking you already.

Photographing Festivals, an Existential Dilemma

June 25th, 2014

If there was a World Cup for beer festivals then the SOBA Winter Ales Festival would have won. Great beers, great venue, plenty of old friends to catch up with, and a great atmosphere to make some new ones. Just like the real World Cup only with much, much better beer and less chance of the English going home early. Congratulations to David Waugh and the rest of the SOBA team who made it such a special day.

I didn’t take a photo of David Waugh but if you squint hard enough you might spot him in this one.

I was very thankful that it was such a great day because photographing beer festivals is becoming increasingly difficult for me. Relaxing with friends and beers makes the stress of coping with this much easier to bear. But why am I having trouble? First up, I am rather shy and reserved. This is a problem easily solved with a few beers, which are thankfully plentiful at a beer festival. Drinking helped me immensely when I photographed my first ever beer festival back in 2009 and the success of those photos indirectly led to the creation of the Beer Project. Looking back at them now, I don’t think I’ve managed to match the variety and decisive momentness of that set since.

Which leads on nicely to perfection paralysis: how can I make photos better than those ones, or even a photo I took last week? A little secret: I have no idea how to take a good photo, but, here’s the funny thing, it has gotten easier over time. The trick is ignoring the fear of failure and just taking photos anyway. Again beer is a great enabler (you’re probably beginning to understand why The Beer Project is the perfect project for me). I am constantly surprised and delighted at the photos I end up with when I just start shooting.

Next, I hate repeating myself. I’d get rather bored (and I‘m sure you would too) if I pumped out the same old shit every time. Of course this is the point where some of you will say that I’m always pumping out the same shit and it’s time for me to move on to photographing something new, say craft toast culture or people who milk hedgehogs. Screw you guys. I like beer.

But my biggest struggle, when photographing festivals, is that I am at my best photographing people working hard doing what they love. Usually this is brewers brewing. When I see passionate people I tend to feed on that and get passionate myself (I can even get passionate about the overuse of the word passionate but that can wait for another post). Fanatics and lunatics, both make for great photographic subjects. So who are the passionate people at a beer festival? Why the beer drinkers of course. But wait, I’ve already photographed beer drinkers before… how am I going to make it look different? By this stage I’ve had enough beer that I don’t care any more, so I give to you Beer Drinkers of the SOBA Winter Ales Festival.

Jules and friends.

James and (possibly, my memory is a little vague) Nina.

The wonderful crowd.

A shady deal, I’m sure.

Paul Wicksteed showing off his great t-shirt

Scott taking notes for his blog Buzz and Hum.

Jerseys and ParrotDog shirts, featuring Lester Dunn.

Jerseys, ParrotDog shirts, and funny faces, featuring Lester Dunn.

Sean Murrie wearing one of the awesome Tuatara Delicious Neck t-shirts.

Sam Whitney, The Apprentice at Panhead Brewery.

Pete and Nick.

A happy man caught being piggy-backed.

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”.