Given the strength of Australia’s craft beer scene, it can be easy to think that we are the rulers of this domain in the Southern Hemisphere, however it is important to remember that long before there was the Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS), there was Beervana, and before that… well we don’t really want to acknowledge those dark times.
Having commenced in 2002 in Wellington, Beervana is New Zealand’s premier craft beer event and easily equals GABS in terms of scale and reach. For any craft beer fans who are planning to go (or anyone who is inspired to head over by this article) we’ve set out below some of the key things to know about the 2015 edition.
Beervana NZ will take place on Friday 14 and Saturday 15 August and on each day there will be 2 sessions, one from 11:00am to 4:00pm and the second from 6:00pm to 11:00pm, with bars closing 1 hour prior to the end of each session. Our recommendation would be to hit up the Friday afternoon session if possible, this is typically the most ‘civilised’ and also least crowded session, and also ensures the maximum chance of sampling any beers that are likely to be in high demand. A lot of genuine craft beer lovers attend this session and you get lots of opportunities to talk to the brewers.
One of the downsides of many festivals (whether they be beer, music or otherwise) is the logistics that can be involved in actually paying for food and beverage at the event. The downfalls of allowing cash payments are obvious so many events resort to a token-based economy however this also has its problems as tokens are often not redeemable for cash leaving patrons uncertain as to how many tokens they should buy. Beervana used technology to address this problem last year by introducing Beervana Dollars which are loaded onto an RFID-enabled wristband that is issued to every attendee – this can be done either on entry or at one of the Beervana Banks in the venue and any unused credits can be refunded at the end of the event. We think that this is a great innovation and hope that other festivals follow suit.
Of course the main feature of Beervana is craft beer, and lots of it. There will be over 200 craft beers available to try from some of New Zealand’s best breweries including 8 Wired, Epic, Garage Project and Yeastie Boys, as well as some of our own local talent and even three special guests from Portland, Oregon who are making the long trip across the Pacific Ocean to be in attendance. Beers will be available in either a 75ml tasting or a 250ml serve and can be purchased using the aforementioned Beervana Dollars. There also will be the opportunity to meet many of the brewers in person, as well as to attend seminars covering topics including beer trademarking and copyrighting, the increasingly popular union of beer and cheese and the science of beer.
As the craft beer scene has developed, so too has the recognition of the importance of matching food and beer. As a result, food is increasingly a prime feature of Beervana, which also coincides with the beginning of Wellington on a Plate, the city’s answer to Melbourne’s Food and Wine Festival. A range of Wellington’s best restaurants have been assembled to provide a wide array of food covering the full gamut from seafood to handmade dumplings to Mexican food and of course the ever-present burger. As with the beers, food can be purchased using Beervana Dollars loaded onto your festival wristband.
For those based in Australia, the main cost of heading to Beervana will be the cost of flights across the Tasman which for some people can be a deal breaker. However, we have found that Jetstar in particular offer regular specials on fares to Wellington from the major capital cities and return flights from the east coast can in many cases be had for $250 or less.
As you can tell we are very excited about what Beervana has to offer – The City Lane was in attendance last year and will be sending an even larger contingent ‘across the ditch’ for this year’s event and we recommend that you do too. If you come over and recognise any of the boys from The Brunswick Beer Collective be sure to say hi and join us for a beer.
When: Friday 14 August 2015 and Saturday 15 August 2015
Afternoon session: 11:00am to 4:00pm (bars close at 3:00pm)
Evening session: 6:00pm to 11:00pm (bars close at 10:00pm)
Entry: NZD 45.00 – entry only, does not include the cost of beer or food
Where: Westpac Stadium, 105 Waterloo Quay, Wellington, New Zealand