The Worst Decision I Ever Made

"Investors seem willing to pay above market rates to buy into the
story of New Zealand craft beer." 
-Rob Simic, ANZ Commercial and Agricultural Regional Manager, 
Beervana Media Briefing Session, 2014.
"No-one will ever get a dollar back, so i [sic] really hope we 
don't hear them moaning about it down the track. It's a worse 
investment than a finance company debenture!" 
- C N, Comment on an NBR Article

Investing in Yeastie Boys is without a doubt one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made.

OK now to qualify that statement. No doubt if you’re even remotely connected to the New Zealand beer scene you’ve heard the news: Yeastie Boys raised half a million dollars in 26 minutes via crowd funding. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate that feat.

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Done? Right, now lets talk about how disastrously, ruinously mad it is.

The occasion has special significance for me for two reasons: first of all, the launch party was held at Golding’s, and I was working it. I’ve bartended many monumental occasions, including the launch of ParrotDog and Garage Project, but this one may just take the cake.

The other reason it’s significant to me is that I’m one of the the 219 people that chipped in money. Yes, I foolishly ponied up my hard earned cash for a tiny slice of the Yeastie Boys pie.

It was not my intention after reading the share proposal, to invest in the company. Because lets face it, the below the line nay-sayers commenters on the National Business Review articles are correct. Economically, Yeastie Boys is a terrible investment. It’s not that the company is going to go down in flames. To the contrary I have very good reason to believe that it will soar, if not like an eagle, then at least like a fairly ambitious pigeon. No.

But the cold hard facts remain: Half a million only buys 12.5% of the company, which places a value on Yeastie Boys at ~4M, or in other words, somewhere between high and ludicrous. Considering this, and the relatively low-profit nature of brewing at any scale, no one will ever see a good (if any) return on their investment. It’s truly a terrible decision to invest in the Yeastie dream.

"How dumb are some New Zealanders?" 
- Reece of the Duchy, Comment on the same NBR Article

But here’s the thing – we, as in everyone who invested in Yeastie Boys, already knew that. So why the hell did I willingly, gleefully even, chuck my cash into a flaming black hole? Well, first of all, because I could.

I invested a cheeky $500. I could frankly take that much cash out to the BBQ right now and set it on fire (or burn it in one hundred other more creative and figurative ways). Whilst this would be a very foolish decision, at the end of the day, I could do it and still make rent.

And I suspect this goes for everyone else who also threw money in. The average investment was ~$2500. There will be many low level investors like myself, but also a few that invested much, much more money than that. But I also know for a fact that no one invested at a level which means they’ll have to foreclose on the family home if Yeastie Boys doesn’t immediately (or ever) start paying out big dividends.

Frankly, the only one who’s going to get seriously burned if this whole thing doesn’t work is Stu. And he knows that.

The other reason I invested in this thing comes back to something I wrote a few months back:

"I’d invest in a brewery because I believe in drinking good beer, 
and I want to ensure I can get a good pint for years to come. 
Expecting a return on buying into a ‘Craft’ brewery is to me like 
expecting a return on buying a pint at the pub. Passion and 
enjoyment are why we get into this industry, not striking it rich."
- Dylan Jauslin, Beervana is Decadent and Depraved Part #2

So here was the chance. Money where mouth is. And it’s been two weeks since then and in the cold light of day, I stand by that sentiment. I want more Gunnamatta. I want more Pot Kettle Black, and yes, I even want more Rex Attitude. I do not for a moment regret making the worst financial decision of my life. In fact I’d do it again, in an instant.

Fuck'n. Classy. Bastards. Credit: The Brewers Guild of New Zealand.

Stu and I at the BrewNZ Awards, 2013.
Credit: The Brewers Guild of New Zealand

***

Having said that, there is one thing I’m nervous of: other breweries.

I can feel them, right now, waiting in the wings. Those who have seen what Stu and Sam have done and are thinking of going and getting their own share of that sweet, sweet crowd-sourced money.

I know that people are thinking about it and I can tell them now – it won’t work out the same. It might seem like Yeastie Boys pulled this off in 30 minutes, but they have been building up to this for 6 years, and Stu has personally been working towards it in one sense or another for more like 10 years (ask him one day about the history of Liberty Brewing).

So think long and hard before you go out there and try to recreate what Yeastie Boys (or even Renaissance) have done. There’s no guarantee it’ll turn out how you want it to.

OK, lets end this on a positive note.

I have officially sliced myself a “piece of the Yeastie Boys pie,” as Anna Guenther of PledgeMe puts it. But frankly, I don’t feel like I have. I feel more like I’ve contributed a little dough (pun intended) to the amorphous mass, which will eventually be rolled out to make the crust of a really special pie.

And in this regard, I feel like I’ve been supporting Yeastie Boys from day 366. For that was the second ever launch of Pot Kettle Black, and the first time I ever had one of their beers. In a very simple way I feel like I’ve been supporting Yeastie Boys for many years the same way those who didn’t invest (or just weren’t quick enough) can support them. By going out and enjoying a Yeastie Boys beer!

Cheers, or as Stu says:
Sláinte Mhaith!

Credit: The Brewers Guild of New Zealand

Credit: The Brewers Guild of New Zealand

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The Craft Queer Project

This all came about because of a can of Garage Project ‘Beer’ and a permanent marker. But lets start at the beginning.

2014 saw some really great discussions start up about minorities and representation in the New Zealand beer scene. Most notably the Craft Beer Calandar, and a bit more talk about women in the beer scene, both as consumers and professionals. ‘Craft’ beer has been pretty much the exclusive property of middle class white men for a long time, but I hope we’re seeing the first signs of change (types the middle class white male). But it is wonderful to see some conversations and change happening, so lets keep it going.

Today I want to talk about queers in the beer scene. And you know what? I’m going to start by being fairly positive. Because right now, our particular little pool (that is the breweries, beer bars and beer events of Wellington) is a fairly open, welcoming and overall liberal place to be.

How do I know this? Well, because there are queer people representing every letter of the LGBT at every level of the industry. Queers make beer, distribute it, sell it, and of course, drink it. And it is as customers that queers are highly represented. I think it’s a credit to the industry that this is the case. However things are definitely not all rosy.

There’s still plenty of queerphobia, both in the beer scene and and New Zealand society in general. I’ve heard far too much of it over the bar in my time. We stamp on it at Golding’s and Hashigo when we hear it. But we know it’s out there and that means there’s room for improvement in our industry.

Which brings me to the can of ‘Beer’ and the permanent marker. You see I had to procure a Secret Santa gift for my co-worker Gen.

We had a limit of $10, so I thought crafting something might be the way to go. I’m fairly handy with a stencil and needle and thread, so I thought I’d make her an awesome patch or shirt or something. I had all the fabric paints, label paper and even an old black shirt to print it on. The only difficult thing was coming up with an idea for what to paint.

Gen’s a fairly Tough Bitch, so something about fucking up the patriarchy would be apt. Then I remembered this photo:

Tough. Biatch.

Tough. Bitch.

Combine it with the famous GFD ‘Beer is Love’ mural:

Draw.

Draw.

Cut.

Cut.

Paint.

Paint.

And, result:

One very stylish Tough Bitch.

One very stylish, Tough Bitch.

Gen was pretty thrilled, but it didn’t stop there. I’ve had dozens of requests for custom shirts from those who want to destroy the patriarchy whilst enjoying a good beer. The simple fact of the matter was it was too many for me to ever hope to make them all by hand. And that’s when inspiration struck: why not print them digitally?

So I drew:

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But this time I didn’t cut; I scanned and Photoshopped:

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And result:

Why yes, I cam using the 'Handsome Man Hefting  Keg' shot.

Why yes, I am using the ‘Handsome Man Hefting Keg‘ shot…

So I designed a shirt to be made available online for all my friends. Now I had the option to profit greatly from this enterprise, but it didn’t feel right. Besides, I’ve been really inspired by the good work done by the New Zealand Beer Calendar. So proceeds from shirt sales will be going to Rainbow Youth.

Rainbow Youth is an organisation that offers support, information and advocacy for LGBT youth in New Zealand. Because we all know that being young is difficult, and being queer and young is extra tough. We’ve all heard the statistics: higher suicide rates and drug and alcohol use amongst queer youth in New Zealand. And it’s organisations like Rainbow Youth that can help change that.

It’s time to get our Queer-Beer-Pride on and stick it to queerphobia in style. Not queer, but want to destroy the patriarchy in style anyway? Not a problem. I designed a special ‘Beer’ version, so you can rock it no matter how you identify. The Craft ‘Queer’ Project shirts are available in both Men’s and Women’s cuts (and in a rainbow of colours) from this link on Print Mighty:

thebottleneck.printmighty.co.nz

If there is a product offered on Print Mighty that you would like with the Craft Queer Project design on it (a hoodie, tote bag, etc.), feel free to tweet requests to me.

So let’s crack a good beer and toast to the end of misogyny and queerphobia!