Guest blog: Cheers, Panhead


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When I got offered this from a fellow Palmerston North beer nerd, I figured saying no would be unchur. So, here it is.

By Jason Franssen

As I sit here with a can of the best pale ale in New Zealand right now, I reflect on the news that has come from one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing breweries.

If you have been living under a rock, Panhead Custom Ales announced this morning they have joined Lion, alongside Emersons, Little Creatures and other such crafties that have seemingly ‘sold out’ to Lion, which I might add are the current champion brewery of New Zealand.

Before I carry on, I have no affiliation to either side in this and would like to put on the record that I think Mike Neilson’s decision to become part of one of the biggest beverage manufacturers in the southern hemisphere, with one of the biggest distribution arms, is AWESOME. Well done on expanding your brand, expanding where people can get your beer and making a few coins in the same instance.

I have read some pretty scathing comments today both on social media and on a particular news site – and wow. Can people not be happy that someone in little old New Zealand has actually done something really good for the beer and brewing scene? Can we not be happy they have taken on a new exciting chapter in their business? Why do we think that said business belongs to us?

FullSizeRender (4)In speaking with other home brewers (and a contract brewer) it was put to me that (Hat Tip, Garth from Big Growler) when a brewery “sells out” it’s much like Nirvana when they signed up to their big label and released probably their best known album, Nevermind. They were given creative licence, capital and access to a bigger market. Is that not what has happened to fellow Priders, Emersons? What about that new purpos-built brewery they have, all paid for by “selling out”? What about being able to go into your local Lion-tied bar and have a decent beer, like an 1812? Or Bookbinder? It’s pretty awesome, right?

Add to that the staples from Panhead: Supercharger, Port Road Pils, Johhny Octane or Vandal.

‘What about recipe changes?’ I hear you say? Really? How often do breweries change their recipes to accommodate changes in their base ingredients, grains, hops or water. How about Supercharger being a different beer from when it was first released? Or how about the best known IPA in the world (Ballast Points Sculpin) being different from when it was first created on a home brew scale?

Stop being afraid of change. Embrace it. It’s really not that bad.

This malarkey of ‘selling out’ needs to stop. Being successful isn’t a bad thing. Being able to grow the market for decent beer in an ever-growing market is a good thing. Surely having more access to decent beer is a good thing.

Cheers to you, Mike and Panhead. I’ll still buy your cans of Supercharger and enjoy every single last drop. I’ll still look forward to your new releases. I’ll still come see your stand at beer festivals. I’ll support you for having the balls to be one of the ones to go with what makes sense to you and the Panhead brand.

Cheers to you, and taking that step to help grow beer in New Zealand. Cheers to spreading your brand and beer to more places than you could have by yourself.

*Jason Fraansen is commonly known as ManawaBrew on social media, and has recently taken on the role of Overlord of the Palmersotn North chapter of SOBA. All opinions are his. 

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