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February 23, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Orientation Beer Guide

So it’s orientation week, which must mean the first university trimester of 2009 is about to begin. This surely conjures images of stress, procrastination, tests, exams, more procrastination, a low income and just crap in general. Luckily we have a student’s best friend to help you through all of this shit: beer.

But with so much crap already ahead of you this year, why would you add shit beer to that list? The typical student attitude towards beer is ‘more beer is better’. I go with the philosophy of ‘better beer is better’. It is my hope that I can help steer you away from the typical Tui dozen and give you a leg up to the next level of quality beer.

The disadvantage of my philosophy is that better beers tend to cost considerably more than your average six pack. To follow this philosophy during O-Week would be more than the average student’s pocket can handle. So I’ll steer away from the boutique beers this week and focus on beers that taste great – but won’t cost (much) more than your average dozen. All of these beers are $12 or less per half dozen (or equivalent).

Gisborne Gold is a reasonably priced beer with a few surprises. When I first saw the logo, reminiscent of Speight’s, I expected something similar. What I tasted however, is a crisp golden lager with a nicely hopped aroma and refreshingly bitter flavour. Available in bottles, but much cheaper in 2L riggers from Regional Wines and Spirits.

Bavaria 8.6 is a good option for those looking for something stronger but not wanting to venture into RTDs. Specially created for the French market, this sweet malty beer, sometimes called a “malt liquor”, will make you feel happy quicker than most beers. Probably due to the 7.9% alcohol volume and 500mL cans. This is one of the more tolerable of the malt liquors in the world and avoids the usual strong alcohol flavour.

Mac’s Hop Rocker Pilsener is one of my favourite of the Czech pilsener style of beer. Pilsener style beers tend to have a strong hop character, achieved by a later addition of hops during the boil. Mac’s Hop Rocker has strong citrus fruit and grape aromas, and tastes full of grapefruit and lemon zest. Grab a six pack of this if you see it on special, because I said so.

So when you’re orientating yourself stupid this week, do it with a tasty brew in your glass (yes, please use a glass!).

If you have any questions about this week’s beers or any comments, please e-mail me at


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  1. Guy says:

    Nice column David, I’ll keep an eye out for the Hop Rocker definitely
    Are you the one the prophecy speaks of? The one who will deliver us from Tui?
    Tui @ Sth Cross = $7
    Tuatara @ Kiwi Bar (Old Courtenay Arms) = $6.5
    Go Figure

  2. David Wood says:

    Yes!! Tui isn’t worth the water it’s made from. But I’ve got a rant just waiting to be spewed forth about all that… I just hope I can give people a nudge to try something new and nice. ps. Courtenay arms >>>>>>>>>>> Kiwi Bar , twas a sad day when I saw it’s closure.

  3. SummerSpice says:

    so you should review beers that are $10 a dozen! its what students want!

  4. Superior Mind says:

    What is there really to say about beers that are $10 a dozen? The all taste vaguely like beer with a rather foul aftertaste meaning you simply have to drink more. Except that really cheap Carter stuff. That tastes slightly like creamed corn to me. Anyone else find that? Anyone else drink it? Personally I don’t any more, I just use the cans as hand grenades to throw out the window at passing motorists.

  5. David Wood says:

    I like the way that superior mind of yours works… I’ll give that Carter a go, and see if creamed corn comes to mind. After all, to know great beer you’ve gotta know shit beer…

  6. Jackson Wood says:

    Carter did have the appeal that is wasn’t just a lager, it was an “American style lager”. The other allure of Cater was the fact that it was $8 a dozen, which to the untested palate of a boy from Taranaki, makes it taste like gold and ambrosia.

    At the Mill they had this awesome deal where, for the minimal fee of $2 they would chuck in a pack of Sizzlers.

    Now is that a class brew or what!

  7. Superior Mind says:

    That is a pretty sweet deal, even if just for the Sizzlers.

  8. Microwave Jenny says:

    Good start, David :) Now: if only you could get me DRINKING the stuff to start with….

  9. sam says:

    I am currently working on a project involving the research of Mac’s Beer brand. If anyone here is willing to spare a few minutes to reply I would be rather happy indeed!
    I would be interested to know what words spring to mind when you think of the Mac’s brand. Is there a particular thing that would make you choose Mac’s over something like Monteiths for example. (other than price, considering we are students after all). Does it really come down to taste for you beer enthusiasts out there? Do you associate Mac’s with New Zealand, and maybe feel somewhat proud at Mac’s strength within the beer industry of late?
    I myself am not much of a beer drinker, maybe it was time I be converted…?

  10. David Wood says:

    I’ll convert you! Nah but seriously. I love answering any questions about beer. E-mail me with some questions at, I’m keen. (Total beer nerd).

  11. sam says:

    awesome thanks for that dave. I’ll get some questions together, and flick u an email. :-)

  12. Superior Mind says:

    I’ll be happy to answer beer questions too.

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