First thing’s first. This is going to sound like a paid advertisement. I can assure you it is not. I’m just a raving fan!
While in Christchurch visiting friends for New Year, we all went for a drive to The Beer Emporium in the suburb of Merivale. It was like Aladdin’s cave, full of beery treasures. It was all I could do to resist rubbing one. That said, had a beer genie appeared, what more could I have wished for anyway? This truly is all anyone could ever want in a beer store. Well, alright, maybe the availability of mail order to Hamilton also, but I always ask a lot!
Harvey Shepherd, the proprietor, has done a fantastic job, showing just how much of a connoisseur he is, both by his selection and by the condition the beers are kept and presented in. The selection is well researched, and has something for everyone – I even found a Belgian Quadrupel (St. Bernardus Abt 12) – not an easy style to locate. Harvey says that he has far more than what fits on the shelves, and as a result, he rotates stock regularly so there is an ever changing selection. Sounds like heaven for a Christchurch native, but hell for the poor guy down from Hamilton with only one day to spend there. Many of the beers are kept in temperature controlled fridges, set appropriately for the styles they are storing. That kind of attention to detail prevails throughout the store, with descriptive labels attached to the shelves with velcro tags, to make changing stock simple, and to inform the customer.
When it came time to pay the piper, I also noticed a small but excellent selection of beer related books. I purchased a copy of Garrett Oliver’s “The BrewMaster’s Table” for a great price in addition to my large pile of beers. Harvey also provides the option of tasting notes with your purchases. These are printed out and affixed to a tasting sheet allowing you to compare your notes with the ones provided, and to score your beers.
Eventually (and probably to the delight of the poor customers my group had been holding up) I left in a haze of satisfaction and went home happy with my haul of amber loot.
I recommend that anyone lucky enough to live in the garden city get themselves in to The Beer Emporium at their earliest convenience. If you’re not in Christchurch, it’s as good a reason as any to visit! Just a word of advice, make sure your bank account is healthy – it’s very hard to leave without spending a reasonable wad of dough.