Craft Beer across the Ditch – Wellington Adventure

Posted on August 11, 2013


Having traveled all over the world I can now say I’m in a truly great young beer city. Wellington New Zealand.

This was my first NZ beer festival and one that I can safely say is one of the nice low key ones on the world stage right. There is a lot more potential with this event, and its nice being in a city that truly supports local craft events. Sometimes beer events are setup and fall off the special character event, or they just get too big.

What makes Wellington Special ?

Firstly its a small little town of a few hundred thousand, and its very similar to small US towns I have visited. The bar scene here is one of the most thriving in any country i have visited, and the amount of young adults drinking beer, and bar staff who are knowledgable The town itself is the capital of NZ and one that I find kind of intriguingly cute/ though I dont know I could live or move here. I would spend 6-12 months on a contract.. and have access to the beer.

What is Beervana ?

This event is only a few years old but one that I can definitely say is worth traveling to from Australia or other parts of NZ. This festival is over 2 days (Friday/Saturday) and has morning and evening sessions. The beer list is quite interesting and but has a few ‘PHO’ craft beers on the list. The event charges $45 entry fee, which nobody seemed to mind paying, but I did find it a bit excessive as it didn’t include any tasting tokens.

Beers were based on alcohol % of <7% or Over and based on the size of the pour you wanted. They were $2 Kiwi (A$1.8) (US$1.60) per token. You bought them in little baggies that were in 10 token lots, so each session I blew about $100 on tokens. So overall its about $300 to attend this festival over 2 sessions and drinking the beers you want to taste.

Best & Worst Parts of Beervana

Having been to my share of good and bad events, I feel this one is one of the key beer events on the southern hemisphere road map. From Sydney its only 2 hour on a plane, Across the Famous ditch, and would be the same from Melbourne.

Best Parts

  1. Held in a Football Stadium that though Characterless, has bathrooms every 100 metres for Men and women. In a semi circle around the concourse. Well thought out.
  2. Small event with a great beer nerd and adventurous vibe, with lots of friendly beer people. This is what we all want when drinking beer, making new beer friends.
  3. New Breweries I had not heard off. This for me is pretty special in countries that are new to me.
  4. 2 Sessions morning/afternoon and Evening. Made for the event to be spreadout
  5. Beers ranged from 0% – 16% and they had a bunch of ‘homebrew’ style beers made by the big brewers. (Festive/Media Brews) its a great concept

Worst Parts

  1. The $45 cost for entry was excessive for NO TOKENS. Each session costs in excess of $100
  2. Confusing Token System. Everything was either 1, 2, 3 or 4.
  3. Squires (Lion Nathan) and a few other stands such as Belgium (AB-Inbev) were on the ground. Is it a Craft Festival? or did accept their money for spots?
  4. This event will continue to grow over the coming years, and will loop the stadium (Bad or Good??)
  5. Maybe a few more events around town for Visitors which comes down to (Bars/restaurants) getting involved.

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Bars & Pubs in Wellington

One of the key parts of any true beer city is how local is the beer and bars? and this city has a vast array of bars to keep you occupied when not at the festival. I stayed in town for 5 days and each bar is slightly different.

  1. Malthouse Bar – On courtney Avenue and its got a good selection of beer on tap and bottle. Definitely more impersonal if you like that kind of bar like myself.
  2. Hashigo Zake – one of the beer nerds favorite bars. it was very cool with amazing selection of local and international beers. I found Speakeasy Double Daddy there.
  3. Fork & Brewer – One of the cool stops in town. Reminds me of old ‘DIX’ Brewpub in Vancouver.
  4. BruHaus – The bar has a few craft and other taps, but good bottle selection (8Wired) (GarageProject)
  5. Goldings Dive Bar – Fun little bar with great barmen

Favourite Beers Brewers on this Trip?

Personally I don’t rate or review beers, but I can say that Garage Project and 8Wired were two standouts. Local wellington brewery ParrotDog are definitely one to look out for. I enjoyed the Garage Project strange creations the most I would have to admit. They are likely going to be the next EPIC brewing out of NZ and their beers will be harder to find as people discover this new Craft Beer company.

The NZ brewers are doing what they call American Pale Ales (APA’s) really well. High hops with lower alcohol with lots of flavours. There were no standout Imperial Stouts for my liking and that is the area I would have assumed more NZ brewers would perfect the ALL Black Beers.

Thats the breakdown of the NZ visit trip and hopefully its given some advice on how to approach when your on your way to Wellington. This town is definitely growing the craft beer scene organically and one that can only keep moving forwards. I’m completing the final stages of my book Craft Beer Trends, and this should out soon. Join the mailing list to find out when and where you can it. For less than $4.99 you can buy it for you IPAD, Kindle or tablet.

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Posted in: Festivals