Local Beer: The construction of masculinity through the production and consumption of local beer
Ideas of masculinity in Wellington, NZ are co-constructed in the creation of ‘craft’ or ‘local’ beer. This thesis explores the production and consumption of a commodity and its cultivation of ‘self’ to understand why only certain kinds of people drink beer. I draw on data gathered from interviews and participant observation to explore this self-making process. Results indicate that there is a movement from mainstream beer to craft beer locally produced and consumed. In the process of creating local beer the local consumer is also made. Beer is a self- making process. Key to my argument is the emergence of a particular type of masculinity. By producing and consuming locally, people reject the type of masculinity that has historically been established by mainstream beer, the white colonial male. Attributes include, hardworking, rugged, linked to the earth, and working class. Local beer, by way of contrast, promises a celebration of a myriad of identities in its celebration of all different styles and flavours of beer. My findings indicate that this is only a perception. In Wellington, a new kind of man is being made in craft brewpubs, the ‘cultural omnivore’. The cultural omnivore is a man of middle or upper-middle class, has ‘taste’ and appreciation for flavourful beer, and is metropolitan. A significant implication of this research is the insight gained on how a commodity, beer, can facilitate in the making of certain kinds of people. This research contributes to anthropological scholarship on the creation of self and gender, at the level of the local consumer.