By THE McCASHINS
Reviewed by Poppa Mike
The subtitle for this recently published book is, ‘The First Craft Beer and the Kiwi Brewing Revolution it Sparked’, which covers the two main threads of this wonderful piece of New Zealand’s history. Told by the McCashin family to the writers John McCrystal and Simon Farrell-Green, it follows a logical sequence in an easy to read, easy to follow manner.
The chapter headings help tell the story, ‘Small Beer’, ‘Tiger by the Tail’ and ‘Fizzing Along’, amongst the ten. Added to this is the wonderful collection of many photographs that help make the alphabet transition from All Black to Brewer, Cider to Doom, Excitement to Foolishness, from Youth and Zing along with all that comes in between.
Inside this historical story is woven the wonderful commitment of the extended McCashin family, friends, and staff, all of whom gave their support, energy and expertise to the key player Terry McCashin, who first established the ‘number eight wire brewery’ in Main Rd, Stoke, Nelson. A large number of these people feature in words, deeds or photographs. None more so than John Te Whiti, who virtually gave his life to the cause, and Jim Pollitt, master brewer for many years. Clearly all those associated with the venture, in some way, were all a big, happy family.
Detail about the brewing industry, the history of the many breweries in Nelson over the years and the revival of the brewery under the ‘Stoke’ label by another generation of the family give another strength to the story. The titles of the last three chapters sum things up neatly – ‘Success and Succession’, ‘Mac is Back’ and ‘Bright Beer, Brighter Prospects’.
If you grew up in Nelson, or lived through this era, or enjoy a cold beer, relish David beating Goliath type tales, or value history’s many tales then this is a ‘must have’ book. Best of all is the ‘Beer Candied Bacon’ recipe on the very last page of the book – icing on the cake after a great read.