Name: Jason Gurney
Why do you do it?
I dunno – I guess I’m arrogant enough to think that I’ve got something to say, and that people should listen…unfortunately I haven’t mastered the second bit yet!
What else have you got going on in your life?
Aside from my most important roles – as a Dad and Husband – I’m also an epidemiologist (fancy-schmancy name for a public health researcher) at the University of Otago. I currently split my time between rheumatic fever and cancer research.
What makes you keep writing if you’re not getting paid for it?
I guess it’s the creative release – writing is how I express myself, without expectation or barriers. While I love my day-job to bits, there are relatively strict boundaries for how you approach things (including writing). I guess it’s just nice to do something that is more art than science.
What’s one of your blog posts that you like the most?
I think it’s probably the post that I wrote that dealt with my internal conflict as a beer nerd on one hand, and a public health researcher on the other. I’m proud of pretty-much everything I’ve written, but I’m probably proudest of that one. My favourite line from that post is: “Don’t be fooled: it’s not that ‘craft’ beer is too expensive, it’s that crap beer is too cheap.” I still stand right by that line, and reckon that our obsession with the idea that beer should be cheap is a) toxic and b) counter-productive to a rich and vibrant scene.
One tip about beer blogging that you’d like to share?
Be honest: people can smell bullshit a mile-off. Write what you know: that way, you’ll always be writing from a position of authority. And – most importantly – write for yourself: you’re the only one that you should be aiming to impress. Everyone else is secondary.
(Oops, that’s three…)
The phrase ‘‘craft beer’’ – love it or hate it?
Can I choose ‘ambivalent’ instead?? I understand why we use the term – it’s supposed to represent *something*, ranging from “this beer is good” through to “the people who made this literally mortgaged their home to do so”. But good beer is good beer, no matter where it comes from – and regardless of whether it could be considered ‘craft’. For example, one of my favourite breweries in New Zealand – Emerson’s – now wholly-owned by Lion/Kirin/Mistubishi, and is about to increase its plant size exponentially…does that mean they’re not ‘craft’ anymore? Who gives a shit. All that matters is that their beer is universally-sublime.
And they didn’t kill any fluffy kittens or small children to make it.
One thing that still surprises you about the beer scene?
How inclusive the smaller producers are. Apart from a few nit-pickers, there’s definitely a sense of “we’re all in this together”. Case-in-point, when the boil-over accident happened at 8 Wired a few weeks ago, there was an outpouring of support on social media – much of which was coming from people who are supposedly competitors. Show me another industry where that happens. Anyone who tries to belittle or piss on another producer sticks out like a sore thumb; and that’s the way things should be. In a sense, it’s utopian.
And one thing you hate about it?
I have faith in our evolution as beer drinkers – that we’re slowly evolving from piss-swillers to thoughtful drinkers. Beer is a luxury, not a crutch; and as beer nerds, we have a responsibility to convert non-beer nerds to that way of thinking. We all need to clock-out every now and then, and have one or two more than we should – but we should always be mindful that the thing that we’re passionate about also has the capacity to cause significant harm.
Categories: Meet The Beer Media
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