OK seriously this is the last LAST post

Hey there!

It’s me, your old mate Beerforayear from 2012. Sorry it’s been a while since the last post – I forgot my Wordpress password and it’s taken me four years and 22,340 attempts to log in again. But now I’m here and I have something important to sell tell you!

I wrote a book which you maybe, possibly, hopefully could be interested in. It’s about beer and is the latest in the Awa Press Ginger Series (How to Have a Glass Of Wine, How to Watch a Bird etc), and it’s a real book printed on paper and everything. When the publisher approached me about it I was like, are you kidding me? I can’t write a book about beer – have you even seen my blog? It’s full of drunkenly-employed exclamation marks and Clueless analogies. You can’t put stuff like that into a classy font and make people pay for it.

But guess what, they did!


How to Have a Beer is kind of a beginner’s guide to beer crossed with a personal retelling of my own beer journey, with a few dick jokes thrown in for good measure (and then mostly thrown out again by the editor, which in hindsight was the right call). It’s sort of hard to explain, all I can say is if you made it through Beer For a Year or even this far down this post, you are probably just strange enough to enjoy it.

How to Have a Beer launches this Thursday at 6:15pm at the Grey Lynn RSC and I would love nothing more than to see some of the old blog readers there. Your favourite professional beer geek Phil Cook will be officially launching the book and Garage Project, bless them, have bravely brewed me my very own “Cock Bock” for the occasion (you may remember I attempted something similar during this blog). All in all it’s going to be a bloody great time. Here are the deets:


If you can’t make it don’t worry, you can still buy a copy of my book for yourself and everyone you love for Christmas. It should be out at the usual outlets soon but I believe it’s available right now from awesome independent bookstores Time Out in Mt Eden or Page & Blackmore in Nelson.

Hope to see you Thursday! You’ll find me where I always am at these events – over by the snacks table.

Alice xx



Published in: on November 20, 2016 at 4:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Last Post

In which, in an unprecedented display of self-indulgence, I conduct my own Exit Interview.

AG: Hi Alice

BFAY: Alice, hi!

AG: It’s a bit sad that I’m interviewing you for your final post, isn’t it? Weren’t there any journalists that wanted to do it?

BFAY: Probably loads – I think perhaps too many of them were trying to call me at once and might have jammed the phone.


Published in: on August 30, 2012 at 2:37 pm  Comments (20)  

#358 Valkyrie Brynhild – Golden Ale

Name: Golden Ale
Brewery: Valkyrie Brewing Co
Style: Golden Ale
ABV: 5%
Source: Vic Park New World

“A golden ale?” I hear you cry. “You have seven beers left and you’re drinking a golden ale?!” 

I’m drinking a Golden motherflippin’ Ale.

You could say there’s an element of guilt involved. I realized that although my blog tells me I’ve enjoyed plenty, I’ve never fully embraced or consciously sought out this style. I think that because they don’t have the “wow” factor of say, an IPA or a sour, I just lumped them into this “ale version of a lager” box without giving ever paying them much attention.

You could say that’s why I’m drinking this, or you could say I just wanted to showcase yet another beer brewed by a woman. In truth it’s a little of both.

Valkyrie’s Golden Ale is a perfectly pleasant one. On the nose I got lots of honey, gentle citrus hops and a little lagerish grain. In the mouth it was sweet and creamy, a little floral, and with a crisp bitter finish that set me up for the next sip.

It wasn’t in any way extroverted. It was like that affable, kinda-nerdy-but-funny kid at school that everyone gets along with. The Michael Cera of beers –  that’s golden ale.

This post’s thank you goes to a man who’s love for golden ales was probably never in doubt – Phil Cook. Phil is the author of my favourite beer blog “The Beer Diary”, which has been inspirational over the year in a very literal sense. Often if I was feeling too sluggish to write, and was in danger of just posting some dumb photo of a cat instead, I would go and have a read of The Beer Diary in order to recharge.  Then, spurred on by the power of his very good writing, I would go and post something marginally better than a picture of a cat. So thank you Phil, I owe you a few golden ales.

Published in: on August 2, 2012 at 6:39 pm  Comments (3)  

Sunday Star Times “Top 10” list

Last week, Michael Donaldson – who is the Dep Ed of the SST and author of the brand new NZ beer bible “Beer Nation” – asked me to submit a Top 10 list for his beer column.

This sent me into a bit of a frenzy, because how on earth could I even define ‘top’ let alone choose 10 beers to fill each precious slot? Did I pick the most delicious, the most interesting, or the beers I would drink the most often? Probably I was overthinking it, but this is the kind of stuff that keeps me awake at night.

In the end, I decided to narrow things down by choosing only New Zealand beers that would be commercially available at the time of print. I tried to pick my favourite example of 10 different styles – although I couldn’t choose between Bookie and Bob’s so ended up with two bitters.

After I submitted the copy to Michael, I would constantly fret about breweries that should have been on there (8 Wired for example, Croucher, Liberty… take your pick), but obviously I couldn’t include everything. Besides – I have no regrets about the 10 fantastic beers that did make it on the list, which I present without further adu…

(Actually one more bit of adu to point out these are in alphabetical order. To have actually tried to rank them would have given me a hernia.)

Emerson’s Bookbinder (Bitter)
Easily my favourite “session” beer, Bookie’s gentle citrus hops and soft pillowy malts hit the spot every time. If I had to choose one beer to spend the rest of my life with, Bookbinder would be it.

Epic Hop Zombie (IIPA)
With its huge tropical fruit aromas and juicy malt sweetness, Hop Zombie’s recent disappearance from the shelves was much worse than Marmageddon. Like any good Zombie it’s back, however, and is still one of the most delicious beers in town.

Galbraith’s ‘Bob Hudson’s Bitter’ 
An ideal winter’s day would be spent at Galbraith’s Alehouse, drinking Bob’s on handpull and playing Scrabble. It tastes like an English Orchard as is only 4% – so you can drink a few pints and still spell the long words.

Hallertau ‘Funkonnay’ (Sour Ale)
When I started this project I’d never heard of sour beer, but now I’m completely hooked. Hallertau make New Zealand’s only current version, and it’s the most weird and wonderful beer on the shelves right now.

Harrington’s ‘Anvil (Pilsner)
Like the forever-struggling metal band it was named after, this is a beer that deserves more fame. Luscious fruit aromas and mouth-filling caramel malt make the Anvil my favourite New Zealand pilsner.

Invercargill Brewery ‘Smokin’ Bishop’ (Smoked Bock)
All smoked beers make me weak at the knees, but none so much as the Smokin’ Bishop. With firm sweet malt and meaty campfire flavours, I’d get my bacon fix here if I ever turned vegetarian.

The Mussel Inn ‘Golden Goose’ (Lager)
I thought all golden lagers were variations on Heineken, and then I tried the Golden Goose. Zesty citrus hops, mouth-filling honey malt and a crisp finish that keeps you thirsty for more –  New Zealand’s best lager by a mile.

Twisted Hop – Red Zone Enigma (Barley Wine) 

Still in the tank when the February earthquake hit, Enigma was trapped in Christchurch’s cordoned-off red zone for six months. It spent that time secretly developing layers of toffee malt, cherries and dried fruit, and had become an outstanding beer by the time it was rescued.

Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black (Black IPA) 

This is simply my favourite black beer. This is partly for sentimental reasons (PKB set me on my path of craft beer writing), and partly because it tastes like jaffa cake in a glass.

Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta(Tea-leafed IPA)
Gorgeous, exotic and incredibly clever – if Gunnamatta was a woman I would probably hate her. Earl Grey tea gives this beer an intense floral and citrus perfume, while NZ hops lend fruit and gentle bitterness. It may only be July, but I’m calling this is my beer of 2012.

Thanks very much to Michael for letting me hijack his column. Everybody should come along to O’Carrolls tomorrow night for the launch of his new book, complete with a matching beer by Epic!

Published in: on July 31, 2012 at 11:57 am  Comments (6)  

#273 Dupont – Biere de Miel

Name: Biere de Miel
Brewery: Brasserie Dupont  (Tourpes-Leuze, Belgium)
Style: Saison
ABV: 8%

Last Tuesday night (yes, I’ve stuffed up the order slightly because I had this before Raffe’s Saison), I went to the Belgian Beer Cafe.

This is how the ordering process went:

Me: I’ll have the Dupont Biere de Miel please.
Waiter: Sure, I’ll be right back with that.

Waiter returns 10 minutes later with a Saison Dupont .

Me: I’m really sorry, but that’s not what I ordered.

Waiter lingers with the beer waiting for me to take it anyway, eventually lets out an exasperated sigh and disappears with it. He returns five minutes later empty-handed. 

Waiter: I’m sorry, we don’t have any Biere de Miel. Can I get you something else instead?
Me: Damn. OK, Lindeman’s Apple please.

Waiter disappears, and returns five minutes later empty-handed. 

Waiter: I’m really sorry, but we don’t have any Lindeman’s Apple. I did find the Biere de Miel while I was looking though, would you like that instead?
Me: Yes! Thank you!
Waiter: Are you ready to order food now too?
Me: I was ready last Christmas. Can I have the metre-long sausage please?
Waiter: I’m terribly sorry, but we’re all out of that. Can I get you something else instead?
Me: Are you sure? Are you sure you won’t find some if you go back and look for something else?
(defeated) No, no, I jest. I’ll have the mussels.

Now, I’m not usually one to complain about bad restaurant service (having delivered my fair share of it myself) but I feel like this happens at the BBC nearly every time I go. And this time I’ve had it – I’m not going back! (At least not until my birthday when I’m eligible for a free meal.)

Oh and I nearly forgot – the Biere de Miel was amazing. It smelled like a field of fresh honeysuckle, candyfloss and musty yeast. In the mouth it was  dry and slightly sour at the finish, but with a nice balance of sweetness. The mouthfeel was lovely – light but not at all watery, and quite spritzy.

It was so delicious that I nearly forgave the BBC all it’s faults, and didn’t bother to complain when I paid. But then as I left I saw at the front of the fridge, prominently displayed, stacks of the Lindeman’s Apple. And I couldn’t help but wonder: was that waiter just fucking with me all along?

Published in: on May 18, 2012 at 10:41 pm  Comments (2)  

#234 Kaimai – Golden Rye Ale

Once again, a regrettable lack of flash.

Name: Golden Rye Ale
Brewery: Kaimai Brewing (Mt Manganui, NZ)
Style: Rye Ale
ABV: 5.5%
Coco’s Cantina on K rd

Something tells me that purchasing a Golden Rye Ale might be a bit of a gamble.

If it is then think I did OK. Mine was good – sweet and tasting of honey, bread (or perhaps rye), and some citrus from the hops. It was clean and crisp, and cut through the amazing Parmesan-crusted polenta chips from Coco’s Cantina (s’cuse the plug) beautifully.

However. I’ve seen other reviews of this on ratebeer.com, and lots and lots of people said it was sour. One even said it was like a lambic.

Either the recipe has changed, my sour-buds have been permanently damaged by last weekend’s Kriek, or some bottles of the Kaimai Rye Ale have been infected, because mine wasn’t so much as a little bit tart.

That said, sour beer is almost impossible to come by in Auckland, so if there are some infected bottles floating around, perhaps I ought to try and seek them out?

Published in: on April 2, 2012 at 4:19 pm  Comments (4)  


Hello there,

So I’m halfway between post 182 and 183, which is sort of like 182.5.

It’s sort of…a bit like…. halfway through Beer For a Year!

“Calm down, calm down”, I hear you saying. “Put your streamers away, take off that ridiculous hat –  you still have ages to go!”

Well I know that (party pooper), but still I though it might be a good time for a little ‘check-in’, and to answer some of the Frequently Asked Questions, some ‘FAQs’ if you will, about Beer For a Year.  Here goes…

1. Is it hard?
Yes and no. Drinking beer is easy (duh), but paying proper attention to each one, and finding the time to post is a bit of a drag. Especially at the moment when it feels like yonks since I started it and yonks till the end.

2. Have you put on weight?
Oh well maybe just a little tiny bit. But it’s not drinking one beer each day that does it, it’s going to the pub in the weekend and drinking 6 beers and eating a bowl of chips and a burger and then 3 more beers and another burger on the way home. I’ve started running now though so that’s OK.

3. Are you a beer expert now?
Hah! Have you read the blog? No.

4. What’s the best beer you’ve had so far?
Unnnnghh. Ask me at the end.

5. Is it really expensive?
Yes. But some people have blogs about designer shoes! That would be waaaaaay worse.

6. Have you ever missed a day?
No! I’ve come perilously close a few times, but I have definitely drunk a different beer every day so far.

7. Do you get given free beer?
Yes – mostly from my Mum and Dad.  Epic and homebrewers are the only brewers that have given me their own beer to try, but I am very willing for this to change. (Call me.)

8. You do know that next year is a leap year, right? So are you going to do 366 beers?
I… Uh… I think…. Hey! Look over there!

9. Are you sick of beer yet?

10. There are no more questions, I just wanted to make it an even 10.


Published in: on February 8, 2012 at 4:39 pm  Comments (5)  

#163 Kowhiti Brewing – Grasshopper

Name: Grasshopper
Brewery: Kowhiti Brewing (Greytown, New Zealand)
Style: Aotearoa Pale Ale
ABV: 5.5%ish

Hey guys, guys, guys!

Guess what?

I made this beer myself!

The Grasshopper (because it’s hoppy, geddit?!) is my first attempt at homebrewing. I made it with my Dad out in Greytown (his place out there is called Kowhiti), where he conveniently has a cider orchard and so most of the equipment that we needed to make beer.

Neither of us had any idea what we were doing. That was fine though – because I had John Palmer’s “How to Brew”, a great recipe from a book called “Clone Brews” by Tess and Mark Szamatulski, and the most important thing of all – lots of beer to drink while we brewed a Can Do attitude!

The recipe was a clone for Sierra Nevada Pale (which I wrote about here), and used Cascade, Perle and Nugget hops, and a mix of crystal malt and dried malt extract. I got everything from the nice folks at Brewers Coop in Ellerslie – who sensed that I didn’t know anything about anything and kindly steered me around the store finding everything I needed. Because of TGAHS (I hope you remember your acronyms!), we used NZ Cascade instead of American.

Making the beer was really fun. My sister did actually document this fun with photographs – but they’re still on her camera so you’ll just have to take my word for it until I upload them later. The bubbling wort smelled and looked amazing, as did the hop pellets, and even though we botched a couple of things up (straining the wort through muslin was a shitty idea which came close to giving me third-degree burns), everything was A-OK in the end.

I think we feremented it for a couple of weeks, then dry-hopped it liberally and transferred it to a secondary fermenter for another week. In the end we had about 20L, which we bottled in the 500ml glass bottles Dad uses for his cider.

And how did it taste? Only like THE BEST BEER IN THE WORLD!

OK, so it could be a bit maltier. And there’s a bit of astringency at the finish which I’d like gone.  And although Dad disagrees – I think it smells like apples (less so now, a month or two on) which is probably a sign of acetaldehyde.

Despite all that, it has a lovely colour, a fruity aroma (citrus as well as apples), a satisfying chewy toffee malt flavour and a nice crisp, refreshing mouthfeel.

Best of all – we made it ourselves! And that’s why it tastes like the best beer in the world.  (Awwwww.)



Published in: on January 21, 2012 at 1:09 pm  Comments (8)  

#150-157 More Mexico


So this is it – my last day in Mexico and my last shoddy, photoless post about Mexican beers. (Coming up – a shoddy, photoless post about LA beers!).

I´m in an internet cafe right now and there´s a lady mopping the floor around my feet and glaring at me which I think could mean they´re closing, so I´ll just try to get through this swiftly.

#150 Dos Equis – XX Ambar (American Dark Lager, 4.7%). I only had about three sips of this because it was crapola. A standard commercial lager with a bit more malty sweetness. I think I prefer the Dos Equis Lager because at least that´s not trying to taste like anything.

#151 Calavera – Smoky Scottish Ale  I don´t think I´ve ever tried a smoked beer I didn´t like, and this was no exception, but it wasn´t anything to write home about. (Except of course, I am). It had a really peaty smoked aroma which didn´t come through as strongly as I would have liked on the palate – a bit like Rex without the attitude.

#152 Minerva – Imperial Tequila Ale  (American Strong Ale, 7%) This pretty much fulfilled my wildest fantasies about Mexican beer. It was aged in oak tequila barrels, which gave it a wonderful woody, rich, chardonnay-ish quality, and had a fruity hop taste that reminded me of Epic Armageddon. There wasn´t enough bitterness at the finish,  but this was still one of the most interesting Mexican beers I´ve tried.

#153 Grupo Modelo – Victoria (Vienna, 4%) From the makers of Corona comes yet another lager which tastes like nothing.  A little maltier than Corona, but still boring boring boring. Best turned into a Michelado!

#154 Calavera – American Pale Ale (5.4%) American hops! It felt like ages since I´d tasted them, which might be why I really enjoyed this one. Predominant flabours were grapefruit, honey, and a light herbiness, and although it was too sweet/unbalanced, it seemed like a good crack at the style.

#155 FEMSA – Sol Sal y Limon (´fruit beer´, 4%) Here it is folks, THE WORST BEER I HAVE EVER TRIED! It came in a can and was supposedly a Sol with lemon, but I´m fairly sure that it was just straight poison. Sol is terrible to start with, but if you can imagine drinking that with citric acid and a little lemon-scented laundry powder added, then  congratulations, you never need to try Sol Sal y Limon.

And that brings me up to date! Which is just as well because the lady who works here is turning off the lights and looks about ready to spit on me. The next post will be from LA, unless I drink too much beer and Pulque tonight and miss my early-morning flight. Quite likely.

Published in: on January 12, 2012 at 2:33 pm  Comments (1)  


I’m going there. Today. For three whole weeks.

Will this affect the blog? Definitely. Will it botch it up beyond salvation? Err, hopefully not.

I’m not sure if this is really obvious or not (I would have explained on the ‘about’ page, but this ill-chosen wordpress theme doesn’t allow it), but I’m not just drinking 365 beers in a year, but a different beer every day for a year. That means that I’ll need to find a new beer for each day that I’m in Mexico, with no catch up beers when I get home allowed.

That might prove difficult given that Mexico is not exactly known as a craft beer mecca, and then on top of that there’s the small matter of time-differences and missed days on planes. On top of that there’s the fact that I don’t reeeally want to spend an hour of each day at an internet cafe blogging.

How will I get around these things? I don’t know. But I will. I may end up lumping several beers into single posts to save time, and I may end up venturing into the terrifying world of vlogging once again (though I hope for everybody’s sake that it doesn’t come to that.)

Anyway, it’ll all be fine so stay tuned – and the next beer I drink will be in MEXICO CITY!

Actually no – no it will be at Auckland airport. And then the next beer will probably be at LAX.

But then after thatMEXICO CITY!

Published in: on December 26, 2011 at 11:50 am  Comments (1)