New Zeland. Beer ban follows brewery buyout

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Secret Garden is dumping Dunedin-brewed Emerson’s beer after the brewery was bought out by Lion Nathan last week.

However, fellow Blenheim bar Dodsons St Beer Garden owner Dietmar Schnarre said he would continue to pour the popular Emerson’s Bookbinder Ale as long as it retained its quality.

Many bars specialising in craft beers renounced their loyalty to the Dunedin-brewed beer after the company announced its deal with Japanese drinks giant Kirin, which owns Lion Nathan.

Secret Garden co-owner Frank Walker said the Maxwell Rd bar stocked New Zealand craft beers and believed Emerson’s no longer fitted the category.

“Lion Nathan is part of a huge global conglomeration and to be perfectly honest I think they will ruin it [Emerson’s beer].”

They have not had Emerson’s on tap for a few months and would no longer stock the bottled Emerson’s range, instead introducing Christchurch-brewed Matsons beer, he said.

Matsons gives 20 cents to the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal for every 500ml bottle of Quake Lager sold.

Mr Schnarre said that while Lion Nathan’s takeover of Emerson’s had sparked heated debate among craft beer lovers, he would continue to stock it at Dodson’s as one of their rotating range of craft draught beers.

“As long as the quality is retained, I will keep it. It’s very popular.”

Beer writer and international judge Geoff Griggs, of Blenheim, said it was understandable that bars which stocked beers from only independent brewers would disassociate from Emerson’s following the change in ownership.

While some bars would drop the beer, Emerson’s could become more widely available through Lion’s distribution network.

“The flipside is that Lion now has access to one of New Zealand’s greatest beers, and until Lion proves otherwise, I’m pretty optimistic about Emerson’s future.

“Emerson’s wouldn’t have gone cheaply and the worst thing Lion could do would be to change the beer.”