Monday, August 8, 2011

Beervana lives up to the hype

Last week I travelled to Wellington for the NZ Brewer's Guild Awards and then Beervana, the annual Kiwi beer festival I had heard so much about. The festival had grown and grown over the years but after last year's event, Guild Chairman and the man behind Cryer Malts, David Cryer, purchased the rights for the event and set about putting his own stamp on an already successful festival. I was eager to experience it for myself.

Self (on left) with Beer Diva Kirrily Waldhorn and Australian Brews News' Matt Kirkegaard.

First up for me was the Awards night (photo above) which the Guild had invited me to. Expertly MC-ed by the polished Paul Mercurio (with occasional help from his voiceover man sidekick), the event was short, snappy, enjoyable and (most of all) relevant to the NZ craft beer industry. The Taphouse and our customers were acknowledged for our fundraising efforts for the Christchurch appeals which was unexpected but appreciated. I was even presented with a rare bottle of Three Boys After Shock Ale (complete with a piece of the rubble from the affected brewery).

While I'd personally like to see some minor changes, the AIBA organisers could do worse than look at our friends across the ditch for inspiration.

Many of the NZ breweries whose beers we have tapped won awards plus some whose beers we hope to tap soon. 8 Wired won the major award to great applause incredible for a two year old brewery whose brewer doesn't own a brewery. We hope to feature Soren and his beers in the coming months. Dave Cryer also got a standing ovation proving he really is The Man.

The Beervana festival was a 2 day/4 session event held for the first time at the Westpac Stadium. From what I can gather, it set new attendance records with some sessions even oversold.

There were apparently 200 beers tapped, albeit not all at the same time and they were cleverly grouped by region. There were many so things I saw done well, I won't bother to list them all there. A few special mentions, however, to the army of volunteers, the good behaviour of the crowd, the informative seminars and the exceptional food offering. With GABS 2012 growing in scope every week, there is much we can learn from Beervana.

I would highly recommend Beervana. Going by the large number of Aussie brewers, Taphousers and Aussie craft beer lovers in general who I bumped into over there, in future years, we could probably charter our own 747!

Finally, I got to check out Wellington's much lauded beer bar scene and wasn't disappointed. I drank at least once at the great Malthouse, Hashigo Zake, Little Beer Quarter and Tap Haus. The latter two had only been open a week! Malthouse's new brewpub opens in September and I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak too. Together with great restaurants (with great beer lists), Wellington is certainly one place any craft beer lover could happily immerse themselves in.

1 comment:

  1. Thanx for that report/review- nice to hear something positive as opposed to this:

    The sooner The Taphouse has growler fills the better!