Gathan Beaga

Monteith's have jumped the shark

I am afraid to report that Monteith’s have jumped the shark.

DB have been giving away dozens of the new Monteith’s New Zealand Lager via a new text message voucher system on several high-profile blogs. Presumably the idea is to generate some buzz. OK, I can help with that.

I won a dozen via The Spare Room (ta!), thanks to an email from Martha, picking it up in Masterton en route to Napier for Easter.

So, what’s it like? It’s not unpleasant, which is about the best I can say. I don’t think I could care to tell the difference between it and any other green-bottled international lager: Stella; Heineken; Steinlager; it’s all bland alcoholic lolly-water. And I’m hardly likely to ever try.

But worse, I think, is the way that it so totally breaks with the brand of all existing Monteith’s products that even looking at the bottle brings on an uncomfortable feeling of dissonance in me.

Actually, I’m wondering why it bothers me so much. OK, so I have been drinking Monteith’s, more on than off, for over 20 years. I’m kind of attached, but hardly exclusively. I guess I have a nostalgic affection for it: my heart believing the brand hype of a brown-bottle West Coast Miner’s brew, the same stuff I used to get in quart bottles from the pub down the road from the farm; even though my head tells me the stuff comes from Auckland from the same factory as this weasel’s piss.

This new lager comprehensively craps on my foolish heart’s delusional belief. The bottle is smooth, green, and glossily designed; it’s trying hard to scream I’M A SOFIST SOPHISTACK SOPHISTICATED BIG CITY LAGER AND NOT FROM A HICK LITTLE COUNTRY EITHER, HONEST. And as far as I can tell the Monteith’s label is there solely in a cynical bid to attach a ready-made heritage feeling to a beer that has probably only been created to compete internationally with those various aforementioned lolly-water lagers.

Fuck ‘em. My heart was wrong, and I must move on. And mostly I have; to Tuatara and Epic, and the occasional Sassy Red when I can’t find those.

It’s only beer, after all.

Update: Even the former brand manager for Monteith’s seems to find the new lager’s branding odd