Kiwi leader likes a pint of Bath Ales' finest
The Prime Minister of New Zealand has taken a liking to beers made by a Bristol brewer.
National Party leader John Key, 47, who was elected to lead the Kiwis in 2008, has been supping beers made by Bath Ales and sold by Bristol expat Chris Carrad in his Wine Circles shop in Auckland.
The store, in Mr Key's constituency of Helensville, specialises in beers from Europe, but those made by Bath Ales in Warmley – 11,400 miles from New Zealand – are a particular favourite for the Prime Minister.
Speaking to the Post from New Zealand, Chris said: "We get Mr Key in the shop when he's in his constituency and he's very nice."
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"He spends a lot of time in Wellington, which is the seat of Parliament and is about eight hours drive away but he comes in the shop when he can, while his bodyguards sit in the ministerial car outside.
"We sell several Bath Ales brands including Gem, Barnstormer and Wild Hare and his constituency secretary tells me they all go down a treat – especially Gem."
Chris, 43, said: "We started stocking Bath Ales about a year-and-a-half ago and they're very good sellers. We have several pallets a month delivered by container ship from Warmley, which take around five weeks to arrive. We took part in a beer festival earlier this year and some Bath rugby players on tour couldn't believe they could have a pint of Bath Ales."
Chris left Weston-in-Gordano in 1999 and started his wine shop three years ago. A former wine journalist, he is the son of the late BBC Points West reporter Jeremy Carrad, who died in April, aged 76.
Roger Jones, Bath Ales MD, said: "We're delighted Mr Key enjoys it."
Sales of the firm's bottled beer have risen from 12 per cent of total production in 2008, to 22 per cent this year as more people stay in because of the recession, he added.