Ode to the amber nectar


There are very few international beer brands. Beer is a regional product. Partly because it doesn't travel well: heavy, subject to degradation from light…all sorts of reasons.

Perhaps the most obvious one is that beer is often highly partisan. When Steinlager, the premium New Zealand beer, was at its peak its advertising was closely linked with the brand's sponsorship of the All Blacks - when rules about not using 'heroes of the young' were like Italian speed signs,…guidelines. National pride was its selling point - if only by association. But beer is more regional than national. Waikato Bitter is not consumed by anyone in their right minds outside of the Waikato region. Lion Red was predominant in the north half of the north island. Wellingtonians had their very own sub species - Lion Brown and, of course in the south Speights Ale was favoured.

Times have changed recently. In the search for more exotic experiences an increasingly homogenised population turns to brands that express one's difference, rather than one's conformity. So, the perfectly ordinary Speights is sold to perfectly ordinary blokes in Auckland, on the promise that it will confer upon you all of the illusory qualities of a 'Southern Man'. For example you will be perceived as a good Mate. Capitalisation intended. Yes, camaraderie and mateship go with beer. Though the chemical makeup of a Campari and soda is not very different from a Speights (mostly water)Campari doesn't, under even with the most liberal interpretations of mateship, confer this mythic status on one. In fact I'd go as fas as to venture you will have few mates if your 'shout' produces a Campari. Pimms is worse still.

Nowhere have I seen this anthropological truth more elegantly expressed than in the clip above. O Canada… quite special. Strange. But special…ay.

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