Don Kavanagh: Craft beer music to ears

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Don Kavanagh tries to steady his nerves for a gig and some tasting at the Celtic Inn.

A good selection of craft beers is a magnet to drinkers. Photo / Paul Estcourt
A good selection of craft beers is a magnet to drinkers. Photo / Paul Estcourt

I'll be doing something I haven't done for ages next weekend and going to a bar to drink beer.

I know that sounds like a barefaced lie, given that I tend to find myself at a bar pretty much every weekend, but next week's visit will be different for two reasons.

The first is that I'll be playing music in a bar, which is a cause for some nervousness for me and my potential audience. It's been a while since I put down the guitar and retired gracefully and - most importantly, quietly - so I'm not sure how I'll go. But it should be fun. Maybe.

The second reason that this trip will be different is that the place I'm going to - the marvellous Celtic Inn in Palmerston North - is having a beer festival. Plenty of bars tend to hang on the coat-tails of Oktoberfest and try to ply their punters with overpriced lagers, but this is a bit different, having no oompah bands (I hope), no lederhosen (I pray) and it will be serving Kiwi craft beers.

I like this idea. I love the fact that there are bars individual enough to offer something beyond the brewery-contracted beers and I love that more and more bars are offering guest taps, where customers can try something they might otherwise never have had the opportunity to taste.

I'm not sure what the views of the major breweries are on this, but from a customer point of view it's excellent. With so much great craft beer available it's a shame we don't see enough of it in bars, despite the best efforts of many smaller operators.

I would have thought that such moves can only be good for the bar trade and, by extension, the major breweries, in that they are more likely to bring people to bars. Offering, say, an Emerson's Bookbinder is no threat to Stella or Heineken, but it could swell the number of people who will be willing to venture out at night.

Good beer is a magnet to beer drinkers, which is obvious enough to all but those operators who are happy to simply get a contract with a brewery and slavishly offer only that brewery's brands.

So three hearty cheers to those who are serious about offering decent beer, especially those offering guest taps to craft breweries. These beers represent a major advance in the drinking culture and should be supported.

Now does anyone know the chords for The Gambler, as I've some practice to do.

- Herald on Sunday

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