Do you ever think back to moments in your life and ponder just how defining it has been?

I liken my first real “craft beer” experience to what I imagine happened the first time Richie McCaw picked up a rugby ball and ran with it.

Obviously, McCaw went on to having an illustrious career as the captain of our nation’s rugby team and won many a trophy; I just went on to spending my hard-earned money on delicious beers – and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I was living in Gisborne at the time, the home of Sunshine Brewery, but it was a stray wander to the Liquorland only minutes from my office where I took it upon myself to see what I could find.

It was probably also a tactic to cool off, because there’s no doubting the sunshine in Gisborne hits you differently there than in the rest of the country.

Upon stacks and stacks of Purple Goanna RTDs, Lion Brown crates and a wall of Jim Beam, I found a small beer fridge holding a few different New Zealand brews and it caught my eye.

I had just turned 21, and my habits consisted of drinking the cheapest booze I could find.

I had just found fulltime employment for the first time, so perhaps it was the (perceived) riches I received every fortnight that lured me in to spending more on one beer than I normally would on six.

I pulled an Emerson’s Bookbinder from the fridge, and about 15 short minutes later I had whacked the top off of it, and took a sip straight from the bottle.

I’d never drink straight from the bottle now – I’ve learnt better – but that initial sip grabbed me with a firm beer grip.

It was delicious.

I questioned myself at the time – why had all the other beers I’d had in my life until then not tasted like that?

The Bookbinder’s sweet, perfumed, malty and hop aroma was enough for me to fall in love, but its soft malty, fruity flavour with a classic ale finish is what won me over for good.

That was almost seven years ago now, but I still think about that fateful moment and every time I knock the top off one of them now, it takes me back to the beer that changed my habits for the better.

The always faithful, Emerson’s Bookbinder.