Speaker by Various Artists


If political parties were beer ...

by Grant McDougall

The election is upon us and given recent events, it’s enough to drive you to drink. Come election night, we’ll all deserve to put away some booze.

For some, it’ll merely be to celebrate that the goddamn campaign is over. For others, it’ll be to celebrate good fortune; the fruits of success will be washed down with a refreshing drop of whatever it is you fancy. Still others will have to face up to the bitter taste of defeat and console themselves with some fortifying grog. Then there’ll be those cynical, worn-out, jaded, disillusioned characters that will simply need to get sloshed in an attempt to alleviate the impending misery of three more years of politicians of all stripes crowding out the media with their inane gobbledegook.

I suspect that regardless of your allegiances, you’ll be take a deep, long sip and give thanks that you’ll never, ever, ever hear the name Colin Craig, ever, ever again. Unless you’re an Aucklander wanting to treat yourself to a new car, possibly.

Between now and election day, we’ll be subjected to politicians, pundits, professors and the public comparing and contrasting parties, policies and personalities. Back in 2006 I wrote a post comparing political parties to bands. This year, in the words of the great Mark E Smith, it’s “time to drink the long draught…” and compare parties to beer. So here’s the 2014 PA election guide to whether a party is flat or fizzy, ale or ail:


If the Nats were a beer, they’d be Tui: tasteless, bland, dull, unimaginative and massively, massively, inexplicably popular. Like Tui, the Nats are very reliant on a single, dominating image and appeal factor. On television, it’s those ads with the gormless guys breaking into the brewery. Around the country, it’s those inescapable “Yeah, right” billboards.

As with the PM, plenty of people like them because it’s lowest common denominator, comedy-lite material that has nil intellectual appeal, but is loved by people because it doesn’t take itself too seriously, according to the marketing experts. But what’s going to happen when the public eventually get sick of it ?

Bars in the bigger cities wouldn’t be seen dead stocking Tui, but right now it remains vastly popular in provincial and suburban pubs and commands a major share of the market.


Her majesty’s loyal opposition are the Montieth’s range. Both originated on the West Coast and have been an established, often popular, product for ages. Both seem to be struggling a bit at the moment, that’s for sure.

As with the furore a few years’ back when the brewery tried to close down the West Coast operation and shift it to Auckland, there’s boisterous comment from some loyal supporters that it’s lost touch with its working class constituency and is having too many of the shots called from trendies in the big smoke. They reckon they’ve taken their eye off what the product is all about. Rather than sticking to the core brews it’s best-known for, it’s trying to be all things to all people, with an extensive range covering all tastes and inclinations, but failing to truly increase overall sales and appeal.

Has always had solid support in the big cities and a decent following in the larger provincial cities, but needs to start re-establishing itself in rural rugby clubs.

The Greens

Clearly they’re Emerson’s. An outstanding product with much depth and made by some very clever, genuine, talented people. They’ve been around for a while now and have steadily increased in popularity, especially in the past five or six years. Their image and marketing has became much, much more slicker, yet it still retains charm and credibility.

There were accusations of ‘selling out” when the brewery was bought-out by a major player a couple of years’ ago, but  it still retains its individuality and has lost none of its unique taste. Same for the Greens. Where once there were braces and dreadlocks, now Russel Norman wears a suit and Meteria Turei dresses flash, but they have a distinct image different to Labour.

But despite better marketing and increased popularity, they’re still a craft beer, only filling a niche market. It sells very steadily in the city bars, bottle stores and supermarkets, but really struggles in the outer suburbs and provinces, where it’s seen as far too pretentious.

United Future

Without question, United Future is Rheineck. Rheineck was vaguely popular ages ago and is still available these days, despite being the most gutless, insipid, weak, mediocre beer in the country, ever.

True story: about five years ago, a few weeks before Christmas, a pallet of Rheineck six-packs, going for $6.99 each, mysteriously appeared at my local supermarket. It sat there and it sat there. It sat there some more. I went away for a few weeks over Christmas and New Year and upon returning saw that a grand total of two six-packs out of an entire pallet had been sold. Like Rheineck, United Future is cheap ‘n’ nasty and you’d be a fool to even contemplate drinking it.

New Zealand First

Winston Peters is fairly partial to good quality whisky, but his party is more Lion Brown. It’s only ever bought by people over sixty and more out of habit, than anything else. It’s not flash, but it sure as hell isn’t as bad as some of the others, that’s for sure. It’s the sort of beer that appeals to people that don’t want to drink that trendy craft beer nonsense, but just don’t have the dosh to stump up for green bottle Euro lager.

It doesn’t appeal to me, but I get why it does to some – it’s solid and reliable, can get you a bit merry, but by and large it’s the beer of last resort. But if the PM or the Opposition leader need to buy some beers and nothing else is available, they’ll whip out the plastic quicker than you can say “supply and confidence,” even though they wouldn’t be seen dead drinking it in Remuera or Herne Bay.


This lot are Budweiser. What they offer is pretty popular in some sections of American, but has close to nil appeal in New Zealand. That’s because it’s imported, tasteless, has an icky flavour and very difficult to stomach. Like the boofheads in America that swear by this, the worst advertisement for it is its adherents. You just look at them and the alarm bells starting clanging like hell. Has a slowly decreasing  handful of hardy, dedicated fans, but freezing workers and plumbers in the provinces wouldn’t be seen dead drinking it.


Boundary Rd, all the way. Reasonably new to the market and has a small but solid niche. Likes to portray itself as down-to-earth, but also modern, hip and up to speed with what young people are into. But if you check out who’s actually behind it, you’ll find that it’s set up by a massively-successful business worth millions. Therein lies it’s problem – sure, it means well and tastes good, but at the same time there’s always that nagging feeling that your hard-earned dosh is going to the wealthy, not a genuine small brewery.

But so far it’s held its own in the market; whether it expands its share or fades within a few years remains to be seen. It’s got a foot-hold in the swankier urban bars, but, like the Greens, is seen as a bit weird and dodgy in the provinces.


Must be DB Draught. At heart a solid, workmanlike product, but nothing beyond that. Compared to newer and bigger brands is basically dull, uninspiring and bland, lacks imagination and should’ve gone through a massive, extensive re-branding campaign long ago. It completely lacks appeal to anyone under 60 who see it as the preserve of fuddy-duddies. Favoured by people that find Internet-Mana a bit too outré, yet don’t have the bottle to try anything else. Has some appeal in truly rural pubs and some of the more needy provinces, but not taken seriously elsewhere.


Steinlager Lite. It’s trying to be a serious player, but has one hell of an image problem. It relies on a successful name, but is taken seriously only by wowsers. Completely lacks any strength and at best only hits 2% potency.

Cheers !

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