Beervana is an annual beer festival held in Wellington, New Zealand that aims to showcase the best that the country’s craft brewers have to offer. It runs across 2 days, with over 200 craft beers from New Zealand (and some from Australia) on offer. I attended in 2013 and was so impressed by Wellington and its craft beer scene that I decided to return again in 2014 for a long weekend.
There are 4 sessions. Friday afternoon, Friday night, Saturday afternoon, Saturday night. Last year I went to the Friday afternoon and Saturday night sessions and, while both were fun, I found Friday afternoon to be more rewarding as it had more of the special beers (media and festive brews) available and was less crowded, with more industry types and beer aficionados in attendance. With that in mind, I just attended the Friday afternoon session this year, and dedicated more time to visiting all of the craft beer bars and breweries around the city during the rest of my stay.
The ticket price only includes entry – to buy drinks and food the token system that’s become standard at these sorts of food and drink festivals was used but with a twist. Instead of tokens, attendees were given a wrist band that could be loaded up with credit and scanned to pay for things at the various booths. Beer came in either 75ml samples or a full 250ml, the price varying by alcohol content. A nice change from other festivals that use the token system was that and credit left on a wristband at the end of the session was fully refundable. A big tick for that.
The first guy in the photo below was one of many volunteers that were walking around with big backpacks full of water, which was a responsible, appreciated move. The guy in the middle was one of the volunteers serving beers at the media brew bar – the device he’s holding is the “token” scanner. The third guy was from Epic Brewing Company, serving up up beer and free BBQ sausage bites.
As occurred last year one of my favourite breweries, Garage Project, were out in full force with a range of unique beers to sample. The “beer workshop” kicked off with their #IPA topped with hop infused nitro ice-cream that had a very unique flavour.
Panhead Custom Ales, who have come forward leaps and bounds with their beers over the past year had this guy getting tattooed next to their bar. Why not?
As well as the beer itself, there were also a range of workshops that people could attend and some great food on offer from various Wellington food businesses. My favourite beer of Beervana 2014, which I rated 4.5/5 was:
- Brave Bikkie Brown Ale – Behemoth Brewing Company
It was an ANZAC themed coconut and cocoa nib brown ale – like a chocolate covered ANZAC biscuit. Really, really enjoyable and a clear winner for me. 4/5 stars went to.
- Epicurean Coffee & Fig – Epic Brewing Company
- Jam Grenade – Funk Estate
- Kiwi Sour – Good George Brewing
- Vainglory – Garage Project
- 2 Pot Flat White – Garage Project
- Cereal Milk Stout – Garage Project
I really enjoyed Beervana 2014 and it was a step up from 2013 in both size and the number of beers on offer. It’s certainly becoming more popular with Australians too. I knew of several people from the East Coast of Australia who had flown over for the weekend- many more than last year. Along with Beervana, Wellington itself has a very vibrant craft beer scene and it all adds up to a great weekend. If you’d like to read about some of Wellington’s best craft beer bars and breweries you can check out my guide here.
The friends I flew over with all had a great time and we’re already looking forward to attending again next year. The only criticisms I would make were that a wider selection of “one off” brews would have been good and that the official Beervana app needs some work. It wasn’t linked to the Untappd app (contrast this with the excellent GABS 2014 app) and it was prone to crashing, which often led to a loss of all prior check-in data – my friend fell victim to this on several occasions. All in all though, a job well done from the organisers.