Blogger Martin Craig became a folk hero to many earlier this week when he revealed that he had secretly entered a commercial beer (Ranfurly Station Pale Ale) into the SOBA National Homebrew Champs and... it bombed. It scored 11/50 and was slated by the judges for various faults.
Since then there has been a little reflection amongst those close to the incident with respect to, shall we say, the ethics of entering someone's beer without their knowledge and in doing so breaking the rules of the competition.
Then today Martin's post disappeared. Fortunately for the curious, google has a cache.
It's tempting to jump to the conclusion that corporate and legal forces have been brought to bear on Martin. Or maybe he's taken pity on Ranfurly.
So should those of us who greeted the news of this guerrilla beer judging with glee also pause for a moment? Perhaps yes. I was reminded of the spat that broke out about a year ago when local brewer Stu McKinley harshly commented on a bottle of Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard on realbeer.co.nz. That beer had been imported to New Zealand under circumstances that Stone's President Greg Koch expressly disapproves of and tries to stop. It was "grey market" and had been shipped without refrigeration.
Greg vented on the realbeer forum. Other participants generally disregarded Greg's assertion of brewer's rights, but anyone who has tasted Oaked Arrogant Bastard in peak condition would probably side with Greg.
As an importer and retailer trying to avoid the grey market, and as a fan of Stone Brewing, I naturally took Greg's side in that spat. So to be consistent I guess I have to concede that the brewers of Ranfurly Pale Ale were not treated fairly on this occasion. But in my book brewing bland beer is a far bigger crime.
Now I wouldn't bother with a spiel like this unless it was somehow self-serving, so here goes. Hashigo Zake is about to strike a blow for brewers against the use and transportation of beer in ways that they don't approve of. But the real winners will be our customers. We'll make an announcement at the Hophead's Picnic tonight.