If you’re in the proximity of Featherston on May 14, come and join myself, legendary brewer Richard Emerson and Beervana manager Ryan McArthur for a live chat on the story behind the story of The Hopfather, Richard’s amazing life story.

Why Featherston?

Featherston is New Zealand’s only “Booktown” and in May the Wairarapa town will be celebrating the eighth Featherston Booktown Karukatea Festival.

What’s a Booktown?

A Booktown is a small rural town or village, close to major cities, in which second-hand and antiquarian bookshops are concentrated. Booktowns are an international phenomenon, celebrating books, from their stories through to their paper, glue and ink.

The first was set up in Hay-on-Wye, Wales, in 1961. Now they’re around the world, from Europe to Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and Australia. The International Organisation of Booktowns binds the towns together.

And it turns out Ryan lives in Featherston so he came up with the great idea of bringing Richard, who created a beer called Bookbinder, and myself together for a look behind the scenes at writing The Hopfather.

Richard was born profoundly deaf in 1960s Dunedin, but triumphed against all odds to launch Emerson’s Brewery in 1992. He went on to create a string of unique, award-winning beers, spark a cult-following, attract global recognition, and become a millionaire — all from doing something he loved.

You’ll hear from the man who helped lay the foundation for the modern beer scene in New Zealand and how we managed to tell his story.

There’s plenty of other events over the weekend of May 12-14 and I will be hanging around on Sunday to listen to another Dunedin legend, Shayne Carter talk about writing his book Dead People I have Known.

The whole programme of events can be found at https://www.booktown.org.nz/festival-2023.

Get your tickets here.

Main pic: Richard and his biographer, Michael Donaldson, at Beervana in 2020.