Normally I try to avoid waking up at 4.30am, but I make an exception when it's to attend Beervana in Wellington.
We touched down as the sun came up and made our way into the CBD for a hearty breakfast, to line the stomach somewhat before beer tasting from 11am. Pancakes, waffles and eggs hit the spot, the taxi driver's café suggestion being bang on the money.
With plenty of time to take in the sites, we walked along Wellington's beautiful waterfront towards Te Papa, to take in a little culture before the beers. It turns out this doesn't open till 10.30 so we kept walking to kill the time and to really earn our bevvies. 12kms later and we were in the Westpac arena ready for BEERVANA!
Like a fox in a chicken coop we didn't know what to taste first – it was all a little over whelming. With over 350 beers from well over 40 different breweries we had our work cut out. Making our way past the stalls, we decided not to fight the masses crowding around popular breweries like Garage Project and Panhead, but instead headed towards the smaller, less well known to us, breweries showcasing new and exciting beers. This was after all a business trip and we were there to sniff and taste-out new products for the FWD Co stores.
North End Brewery caught my eye immediately, brewer Kieran was showing his new barrel aged Saisons and sours, it did take a little convincing on my part to encourage Mark and Richard to sample these weird and wonderful beers, but they were not disappointed. The ‘Baby Grand Flemish Red', was a sour red ale bursting with oak and berryfruit – something similar to a Christmas cake and their ‘Rivage Brux Reserve' a traditional Farmhouse Ale aged with brettanomyces Sav blanc barrels and dry hopped with Wai-iti hops was definitely to my palate, with great aromatics and a full complex body. These two new beers will be new additions to the ‘weird and wonderful' section of Fine Wine Delivery Co fridges very shortly.
Baylands Brewery was nearby and one that I had heard of, but had never sampled their wares. They too did not disappoint, their Van da Tzar a Russian Imperial Stout was one of our favourites from the trip, a rich decadent stout, with strong coffee and caramel flavours. The vanilla really came through – care of three months aging with the pods. This beer subsequently took out champion beer of the show.
Beervana 2015 was a fantastic experience, just to be able to sample so many great beers in one place. Garage Project really pushed the boundaries, a little too far in some instances, but razzed it up with cocktail-like presentation. Parrotdog showed their West Coast IPA Champion beer a great opportunity for most to try this incredible beer. With great burgers, hot dogs, oysters and white bait fritters I highly recommended that you all put Beervana 2016 in your calendars and enjoy a great long weekend in the capital.