One for the Road is a photographic exploration of the social landscape of craft beer in New Zealand. Drawing on the methods of visual anthropology and visual ethnography, the aim of this research is to explore how people, public houses and geography intertwine to create micro-cultures within the industry.
For generations, beer in New Zealand has represented the epitome of hegemonic, white masculinity. Homogenised during the rise of the duopoly of DB and Lion Nathan (through a series of acquisitions and mergers up until the mid 1970s), beer lost an intrinsic element of craftsmanship. In its place a product emerged that no longer represented beer’s diversity, in favour of becoming a beacon of regional pride and masculine values. With beer, still a quintessential part of Kiwi culture, craft beer has been a welcome change to the many seeking the complexity of flavour, allure of artistry and sophistication a good beer can offer.
In my time, as both a patron and bartender, what I have come to observe is a huge social and cultural shift in the way society engages with beer. For me the craft beer pub and its denizens have come to represent the antithesis of the ‘iconic Kiwi beer’ culture.
Craft beer is a relatively young industry. With this there is a lack of research into the fascinating web of relationships that allow the industry to thrive. Building on my experiences, and drawing from the theory of The Third Place by Ray Oldenburg, this research takes the form of a publication that samples four regional examples of the craft beer industry in New Zealand. The photographic dialogue is supported by anecdotal interviews giving context on both the regional and national development of the industry and, in turn, highlights the importance of place, kinship and rapport to the growth of the craft beer scene as a whole.