There are times when beer blogging seems like a deeply shallow activity

This week has been one of those times.

Last Tuesday afternoon I was exchanging e-mails with Craig Bowen from BeerNZ. We were setting up a meeting to discuss promoting New Zealand craft beer to the Rugby World Cup fans. I sent my last message at 12:50 and a minute later the quake hit.

Christchurch has been a thriving hub for craft beer, with a healthy mix of great pubs and brewers. Its brewers include a large mainstream brewery, and independents large, small, and experimental.

It’s not just about numbers. Christchurch’s brewing culture has thrived on co-operation. It is obvious that its brewers do see each other as competitors for a small market, because they have worked together to create a bigger one. This is shown on the surface in the complex web of contract brewing and bottling where beer from one brewery can be produced at another and bottled at a third. You can bet ideas and techniques are exchanged just as fluidly.

Wellington and Nelson skirmish occasionally over the status of New Zealand’s craft beer capital. Christchurch was above such rivalry. It knew it was the most important craft beer centre in Canterbury, so it must, by definition, be the craft beer centre of New Zealand – case closed.

It seems that Christchurch’s craft beer community has survived with no fatalities or major injuries, but there may still be people we haven’t heard from. The SOBA website has been working hard to pass on updates and messages of support here – thanks Grieg.

The wider industry has also been quick to offer support. Emma McCashin generously and swiftly offered access to her brewery’s spare capacity. Other plans are afoot for fundraisers – keep an eye out for events near you. You can donate to the Red Cross. I have heard requests for blood donations, and have a good, healthy stout afterwards to restore your strength.

This quake really will have permanent effects right across New Zealand. As I write this, the toll is 113 with many more unaccounted for. Christchurch’s CBD will take years to recover, and so will the retailers and bars trading there.

The craft brewery scene will also take a long time to recover, but there are smart and committed brewers in Christchurch and I have no doubt they will be back. It will take time – even getting water supplies repaired will take weeks – but good things take time.

Ralph, Craig, Carl, YT, Nathan, Martin and all the others – my thoughts are with you. The craft beer community has enjoyed your efforts and wants to see you back in form – let us know what we can do to help.

Cheers, Martin Craig
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PS – for a much better quake beer blog, read David Cryer’s personal account.

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