’s annual beer festival. Now in its 10th year, it features over 200 beers this year from over 80 breweries, from all over New Zealand (and some from Australia). It has grown over the years and is this year being held in the Westpac Stadium for the first time as it has outgrown its previous venue, the Town Hall. Wellington
My ticket was for the Friday evening session. Nicola had taken herself off to an interdepartmental netball match, and I went with a bunch of guys – some from work, others from elsewhere. After a quick change out of working clothes, we set off up to the stadium.
Beer brewing, especially microbreweries and “craft” beers, have seen an explosion of interest in New Zealand over the last decade or so. Many different styles and types of beer are now available, although “real ale” is somewhat under-represented – most of the beers available are bottled or kegged rather than “live”. The plan is usually to restrict yourself to one type of beer, and taste many different varieties of that style.
In addition to their standard brews, some exhibitors had opted to make a special beer for the competition. This year’s competition theme (unsurprising in the year that
is hosting the Rugby World Cup) is “Let’s Go…Black” – i.e. brew a new black beer exclusively for the festival. I drank mostly dark and black beers, which in the UK are mainly restricted to stout of the Guinness/Beamish/Murphy’s type, and the increasingly-rare mild. These brewers showed the variety of styles and flavours that could be made, from the liquorice-y Tuatara XI to whisky porter and cherry chocolate ale. New Zealand
This year’s festival had a focus on food as well, and grub was available from stalls run by some of Wellington’s most notable eateries, such as Logan Brown, Boulcott Street Bistro, and Martin Bosley’s. For the serious-minded there are also opportunities to meet the brewers, and various seminars organized about making beer and matching beer to food. I started out with the best of intentions to attend one of these…but after a few beers, that fell by the wayside.
The whole event finished at 10pm. Some of the crew then headed out to Courtenay Place to continue the festivities, but I staggered onto a bus and went home.