Battle of the brewers and the winner is me!

I had the pleasure of attending one of the Road to Beervana events last week. I found out about it when a friend was tweeting about it asking if anyone wanted to go. The event was Battle of the Brewers (BotB) Portland vs. Wellington. The event is described as:

Portland comes out punching with Pelican Brewing Company​, Barley Brown’s Brew Pub​ and Breakside Brewery​. Wellington fights back with Garage Project​, North End Brewing​ and Kereru Brewing Company​. Four courses supremely prepared by Shaun Clouston, a beer match each from Portland and Wellington.

Only one city can reign supreme. You decide who did it best.

The brewers from the Wellington and Portland breweries will be at this event to talk through their beers, and fight their corner. This is a fantastic opportunity to get up-close and personal with some of the US’ best exports and Wellington’s brewing elite.

With a five course meal prepared by Logan Brown’s chef Shaun Clouston and beers to match from Portland and Wellington, it’s safe to say that those attending were all winners. 

First course

The event was hosted by New Zealand food writer and personality, Delaney Mes. Delaney did a great job of being short and to the point while being friendly and inviting. Before each meal we had a talk from Shaun about the meal his team had prepared. Then a word from each brewer about their beers before being served the first course.

My friend and I were seated at a table with four other strangers but it was a great time and everyone was super friendly. We were joking and laughing away throughout the event.

The first course was:

Ōra King Salmon “Char-tar”, Salmon Biltong, Scampi Popcorn, Wasabi & Yuzu

This was served with two beers. A Garage Project’s Wabi Sabi and a Breakside Oui, Chef.

A run down of the brews is below for those that have not had a chance to taste them before. The Wabi Sabi is described as:

The concept of Wabi-Sabi is hard to define. It is natural simplicity – flawed beauty – the way imperfection can make an object more compelling. Sourness produced by lactic bacteria in beer is normally considered a flaw. This beer is naturally soured and its sharp, tart character complimented with Honeydew melon and the juice and rind of fresh Yuzu. nothing is perfect – but sometimes imperfection can be beautiful.

  • Style: Frust & Spice
  • Alcohol: 7.7%
  • Brewed with: Yuzu and Honeydew melon

The Oui, Chef is described as:

Oui, Chef is a straw-coloured Farmhouse ale brewed with European spelt and two types of fennel. We use both fennel seed and fennel pollen at different points in the brewing process to layer in the complex savoury and herbal notes from the spice. Originally brewed as part of our Chef collaboration series in 2012, this beer was designed by our brewers and Chef Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon Restaurant in Portland.

  • Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
  • Alcohol: 6.9%,
  • Brewed with: Malts – German Pilsner and Spelt, Crystal 15L & cascade hops with special ingredients fennel seed and fennel pollen
Left: Wabi Sabi; Right: Oui, Chef

Our tables initial views was that the Oui, Chef was our preferred choice. However, once we were served our food, our minds changed quickly. The Garage Project’s Wabi Sabi beer was matched amazingly to the food. Our table did agree though that the Oui, Chef was a better match to the Scampi popcorn but the meal overall was better matched to Garage Project’s Wabi Sabi.

After every course there was a quick show of hands to determine which beer was the winner. In most cases the vote was close, but for first course Garage Project’s Wabi Sabi was the winner!

Stay tuned for my run down on the next course details and my thoughts on it.




Amber takes on DJing

My other hobby.

Beyond the Achievements

On this episode of Achievements Unlocked, Amber plays DJ Hero and then has Sam Gandy, a Drum & Bass DJ and producer, to show her how to DJ in a night. Check out how well Amber did!

Feature image by Wikipedia

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An excerpt from my writing notebook No. 1

I thought I’d share some work from my writing notebook.

The figures walked through the darkness, into the gentle wind, their long black cloaks hiding their identities. The tall figure dug a large wooden staff into the ground to assist him as he walked, a slight limp in his right leg. He moved to the cliff edge with a shuffle. Drawing back his hood with his left hand, he faced the city of lights. His features lit up, his honey coloured hair was pulled up into a loose ponytail.

“Ah, Trica. You are glorious tonight.” The man smiled, his deep voice carried off with the wind.

“Don’t you feel it, Elow? Don’t you feel their presence?” The woman gasped with excitement.

“Violet you were right, there are Guardians in this city,” his voice was gentle.

Stepping up beside him Violet removed her hood and stared into the city lights. The lights barely lit up her long caramel locks, which were pulled up loosely into a braid. Nodding gently she smiled barely containing her excitement.

“Brother, I think more than one guardian resides here.” Turning to Elow, she watched his chiseled features, for any reaction. He simply closed his eyes and raised his head towards the sky. Seconds later he opened his eyes and returned to face the lights.

“I cannot sense the presence of guardians very well from this distance, but I can tell there is at least one here.”

“Then let us find out brother, awaken the guardians at once.” Violet urged impatiently.

Ignoring his sister’s pleas for urgency, Elow raised his staff above his head with one arm slowly. As he did, the winds picked up, blowing in all directions, their clothing violently flapping. Turning to look up at Elow, she watched as the colours escaped from his dark brown eyes, the pupils disappearing behind the white hazy glow. Moving closer to the edge of the cliff Violet surveyed the city, watching for any slight change.

“Kraq de tulen we Guaodean!” Elow coldly spoke, enunciating every word carefully. Spinning the staff in the air with his right arm he slammed the wooden weapon down hard into the ground. As the staff hit the ground a booming sound and a burst of light rushed from the core of the staff. The staff’s end dug hard into the dirt beneath them. Violet watched as the shockwave moved through the ground of the city before them. As it hit parts of the city the street lights flickered and then glowed brightly. As the shockwave passed the lights returned to their normal dim glow.

Elow’s eyes returned to normal and he soon felt the uneasiness within his sister.

“Be patient Violet, they will awaken soon,” Elow spoke softly, the kindness in his words returning now.

Violet’s hazel eyes darted nervously around the city begging for just one sign that their search was not in vain. Suddenly a burst of light ran up from the ground and into the sky. Violet’s face showed her excitement as she pointed towards the phenomenon. The light looked like lightning.

“One of the guardians is awake!” Violet shouted, trying to hide her enthusiasm.

Elow remained calm. Another light phenomenon rushed up into the sky, lighting it up. “And another one,” Elow smiled. As another light escaped into the black dark sky Violet threw her arm out pointing again. “And another one.”

As one more sighting reached up into the sky Violet chuckled to herself with delight. “That’s four guardians Elow.”

“That definitely saves us trying to track them all down.”

“Are you kidding? This is great!”  Violet was stunned with how well this procedure had worked.

“Settle yourself Violet,” Elow maintained his seriousness, “this is just the beginning. Yes we have found more guardians than we expected but we have much to prepare for.” Violet’s excitement disappeared from her face as her brother’s words brought her back down to reality. “Our universe is in a dark time sister and they will be far from the heroes we need.”

Feature image by Nellie0224

A tale of UI and UX

A growing trend that I am greatly concerned about is the use of UI and UX synonymously. I am here to help spread the word that UX is not the same as UI. Let me break it down and get out of acronyms.

Let’s start with most tech acronyms by looking at the full name.

UI is an acronym for user interface. A user interface is a way for humans (or a user) to interface with computers and systems. A bit of a quick history lesson. In the mid 40’s to late 60’s there was ‘batch interfaces’ which used hole punches to process information. In the late 60’s there was the creation of a common line interface. With the creation of Apple and Microsoft was really the birth of what was referred to as ‘Graphical User Interface’, the acronym of GUI. Most people use GUI & UI synonously. Today’s UI’s are what you see today. They can be as glamorous or horrible as people want them to be.

UX is an acronym for User Experience. User experience is a technique that looks at human behaviour, attitude and emotions around a user interface (UI). It produces a set of principles and guidelines about how to make user interfaces intuitive and easy to use for people.

With these two items explained out here is what the deal is with UX and UI. You can build a user interface very easily. You can build terrible user interfaces and you can build great looking user interfaces. However, it is user experience that is the technique that comes along and places objects on the user interface so that people who use it can intuitively and easily work their way around it. Ultimately, reducing time, effort and training – because ideally someone should be able to just work their way around the user interface (within a few minutes, not hours).

To wrap up, UX does not mean UI. You can appreciate that UX and UI are two very different specialities and they require different skill sets. If you build a user interface that either a customer, staff member or anyone who isn’t a robot will use then you really need to look at UX.

Please note that I have kept this very high level and have skimmed over some technical details to help explain the difference. 

Feature image by PetitsPixels

The motivation of people

Today I stumbled across a series of tweets that Clay Johnston sent about Parks and Recreation. Clay is a doer, he is known to break down barriers and work through how to make the impossible possible. Clay also came to Webstock in 2013 and I was fortunate enough to attend his workshop.

Clay’s tweet series is below:

This whole topic has been a hot point of mine whenever I am asked to look at Innovation processes within corporations. Motivation is key, you cannot just ignore it. There are people who will do anything, using their own spare time to drive innovative and ideas they’re passionate about. Whether it’s their day job or their own project, there are people who live to work (as Clay outlined above). However, there are people who don’t work that way, that way sounds ridiculous to them. They go home when it’s time, they indulge in their life, rather than work. These are people who work to live.

The problem I have is that the latter type of people are often told they’re not innovative or passionate and that is just not true. They have different priorities then others. This does not mean they don’t have ideas or are any less passionate then someone else.

I was very much a live to work person, however some serious health issues a few years ago forced me to to move into a work to live motivation. I fluctuate between the two nowadays. I’m disgustingly passionate, I just can’t stop working on things that excite me. It doesn’t mean I’m more passionate then others, if anything it probably means I’m too excited and impatient.

If you’re a manager or someone running innovation incubators, just be conscious of the people you’re interacting with. As much as you’re aware of someones personality, also be aware of what motivates them and how to keep them interested and engaged.

Feature image by Flickr user Hartwig HKD.

The month of chaos

I am hanging on by the tips of my fingers, riding this month out. February is always chaotic and I’ve been doing some thinking recently to understand why. I have come to the conclusion that this month is busy because of one thing. Every facet of my life is busy.

In the business world, February is usually when most boards start to get back into the swing of things. In my normal day job as a software architect it is the time where we help prep new projects to go to the board for investment cases. There is usually a stack of new projects in February because of the Christmas holidays and people being on holiday. In my second job I have to prepare by reading board papers and to meet up with my fellow councillors.

It is no secret I am the woman of many side projects. It is usually during the time of January I collect a few new projects, hopefully while losing or passing on a few projects to others. It is just who I am, I like to keep myself busy with things I am absolutely passionate about. Sometimes these ideas just happen to be quite aspirational items, however it does take until February for the organising to start kicking off.

With this month also brings a lot of wonderful birthdays, including my own. Many of my close friends celebrate their ageing in style. Weekends are jam packed full of events and I’m grateful to have such amazing friends.

So the start of this weekend I sit writing this. Thankful for the cancellation of plans this weekend to allow me a few days off. This post may seem like a whine or that I’m ungrateful, far from it. It’s a break down so that I can understand and know what to do next year. Maybe I go to the extreme and take a month off to go travelling around the world instead? Maybe I pre-book out an ‘Amber day’ within each of the weekends next February.

Header image is courtesy of Flickr user Solid_shift.

The Craft Queer Project

Go get your t-shirt now!

The Bottleneck

This all came about because of a can of Garage Project ‘Beer’ and a permanent marker. But lets start at the beginning.

2014 saw some really great discussions start up about minorities and representation in the New Zealand beer scene. Most notably the Craft Beer Calandar, and a bit more talk about women in the beer scene, both as consumers and professionals. ‘Craft’ beer has been pretty much the exclusive property of middle class white men for a long time, but I hope we’re seeing the first signs of change (types the middle class white male). But it is wonderful to see some conversations and change happening, so lets keep it going.

Today I want to talk about queers in the beer scene. And you know what? I’m going to start by being fairly positive. Because right now, our particular little pool (that is the breweries, beer bars and beer events of Wellington) is…

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