The first column in a series about beer and culture by Kieran Haslett-Moore.

Verrity’s Wake

It’s the hottest day of the year, tomorrow will be even hotter.

Ted has come to the end of his journey. The pub is full to send him on his way.

Frances has been gone 8 long years, ‘Though lovers be lost love shall not’ as the great Welsh pub man would say.

Soon they will be atomically united again, ashes together on a hillside above the water.

But first we are to see him on his way.

A piper leads a procession through the room, Ted makes his last trip from the bar to his corner.

He sits in a carved box below a framed picture of Frances.

As the last mournful notes of the drone fade, a haka erupts.

Tikanga for the dead from these isles and the north ones.

A barrel of mild ale is tapped. Ted’s favourite so we will drink it for him.

Dan stands and reads out some Larkin. The North Ship from a pub nestled in this southern sea haven.

Baz talks about the power of a wake. A coming together to live in the face of death.

Lester says lay down your arms, there’s one shot at this life. Don’t fill it with hate.

Tales are told funny and sad. Toasts are made to the memories.

We head off into the hot evening, full of ale and mortality.

Tonight we are all a little more awake.

For a moment aware of every step, on this tightrope we tend to call life .

It is the hottest day of the year, tomorrow will be even hotter.

Edward Verrity 9/03/1939 – 01/01/2024

Frances Ellen Verrity 1/03/1941 – 12/10/2015


As 2023 turned to 2024 Ted Verrity passed away. He, along with his late wife Frances, had been much-loved members of the Wellington beer community, and an integral part of the Brewers Guild and SOBA.

In Ted’s working life in the public service, he had a role that saw him sign off on every new brewery of the 1990s. This is no obituary, however.

Ted and Frances were like the honorary grandparents of the Wellington beer community and here I wish to muse on how beer brings our communities together and how pubs help us mark both the best of times and the saddest of times.

Fermented culture
Ted and Frances Verrity / Photo: Jed Soane

In the early noughties a community was forming around beer. Within Bar Bodega, Malthouse number one, the tasting room at Regional Wines and Spirits, Bar Edward, Shed 22 and Tupelo (the bar that one day would be LBQ) like-minded souls were finding each other and striking up friendships. In the corner, there would invariably be two little old people, one a straight-faced Yorkshireman the other Frances, a beaming smile on her dial.

It was during this time that SOBA was formed after a group of us fermented revolutionary intent on the Realbeer web forum. A group met around a table at Malthouse number one and over pints of Cock and Bull Monk’s Habit we plotted for a better future. Having seen the lifespan of the organisation I have mixed feelings, but on balance things are better now than they were then.

The tasting room at Regional was also an important focal point for the community. The iconic retailer and distributor had been founded by the visionary Grant Jones and the tasting room was presided over by Geoff Griggs and later by me. The tastings always walked a knife-edge balance of community meet-up and education. BYO cheese, pate and cured meats would jostle on the table with wine glasses of the world’s most interesting beers. The ‘Indian High Commission’, a colloquialism for a group of Island Bay Gujarati New Zealanders led by the mischievous Tosh, would sit at the back and make good-natured trouble.

More bars came, I remember sitting in the dark cellar embrace of Hashigo Zake, sipping handpulled bitter and watching with horror as the damage of the February Christchurch earthquake unfurled on a TV in the corner. Little did I know at the time that Ted and Frances were there having been in town for a Brewers Guild meeting and were trekking to the airport amongst horrific scenes and very real dangers.

I wrote the piece of poetry above after the funeral and wake which occurred at Little Beer Quarter in January.  It was a moving afternoon full of love and laughter, beer and memories. A farewell to Ted but also a final expression of love for Frances. During the proceedings owner Stacey Walsh stood up and said how touched they were when people chose LBQ as the venue to have a wake. Well, LBQ gets more than its fair share as it is a pub that cultivates community and embraces regulars. I have been to some great wakes there including my father’s. Perhaps one day it will host mine.

Living in the 20s as we do, naturally prohibition is in fashion. The World Health Organisation has decided there is no such thing as a safe level of alcohol consumption, someone needs to tell them there is no such thing as a safe level of life, it always turns terminal.

In this environment, I think it’s more important than ever to focus on the positive sides of responsible drinking: sociability, community, and an enriched gastronomic life.

Ted and Frances both lived this life to the full — a worthy example to all of us.