The large contingent of Aussie beer lovers that made their way to Wellington’s superb annual Beervana festival last weekend should have just about shaken off the cobwebs by now. Among them was Tiffany Waldron, aka BeerGirlBites, who was making her Beervana debut and offered to share her thoughts with us, given The Crafty Pint was unable to return to defend its Media Brew title from last year.
The festival drew record numbers with the organisers telling us attendance hit 9,491 – an impressive 21 percent increase on 2012 – and that, according to the Festival Director it was “a blast”. Certainly, Tif seemed to enjoy herself and, like Crafty in 2012, was as awed by the amazing food on offer as the beer. Over to you, Tif…
Event: Beervana 2013
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington, NZ
Date: August 9 & 10, 2013
The 12th annual Beervana festival saw more than 70 breweries (and cideries) from around the world showcasing their brews.
As Wellington is a very craft-beer-friendly city, it was not surprising to see so many people at Beervana: everyone from the newly turned 21 year old types who weren’t sure what to drink to the seasoned beer festival pros who flew in from Sydney, Melbourne and even Perth.
Beervana also (conveniently) started the same day as ‘Wellington on a Plate’ – a three week food festival throughout the city. This meant we also go to experience the Oyster Saloon – an oyster food truck shucking up five different kinds of kiwi oysters with great local craft beers and a few Burger Wellington entries with cans of various Garage Project brews.
Garage Project Maker’s Mark Barrel Aged Cockswain’s Courage – not that you could taste it if you wanted to, it was only available at the brewery (though there is a rumour that someone may have hijacked what might be an unlabelled bottled of it).
Panhead Just Desserts – for the pure creativity of finding a way to add meringue to a beer without making it undrinkable. In fact, I had two.
Garage Project really turned it on for Beervana – in a way that we’ve never seen (or even heard of) at a beer festival. Aside from offering eight of their speciality and regular beers, they rigged up a beer slushie made with ‘Love From Above’ (the updated name for Death From Above), beer jellies made with their Pils N Thrills and a hot pokered Cockswain’s Courage with a touch of vanilla sugar sprinkled on top. Then there was their impressive setup – built and designed with the help of the NZ ballet set designer.
Some other great additions to the usual tap lineups were the Festive and Media brews (which didn’t last long). The Festive Brews challenged brewers to create a beer with only three of the four usual ingredients.
Highlights were the Brew Moon True Gruit and 8 Wired Sourdough.
The winning Media Brew from Epic – an IPA made with Jet Planes lollies and Steinlager – didn’t last through the first three hours of the first session so we didn’t get even a taste of it! But the Just Desserts from Panhead Brewing – green and topped with a kiwi meringue and chocolate shavings – was surprisingly tart and delicious.
The food offerings at Beervana were far superior to any comparable Australian beer festival, with top local restaurants preparing everything from handmade dumplings to wine-barrel smoked venison burgers, seared scallops, croque monsieur and cider braised pork belly sandwiches.
Attendees were overheard saying the food was as much of a draw to the festival as the beers were!
The event in three words:
Bigger than expected.
Photos from official Event Photographer Neil McKenzie.