Beervana comes at a cost

HOPPING TO IT: This year more than 11,000 thirsty festival-goers are expected.
HOPPING TO IT: This year more than 11,000 thirsty festival-goers are expected.

Craft beer lovers will pay $11.25 an hour just to attend one of Beervana festival's four-hour drinking sessions at Westpac Stadium's concourse.

The $45 ticket price gives entry to one of four sessions held over the weekend of August 22-23, an official 250ml plastic drinking vessel, a programme, and a festival currency card to load with cash for beer and food.

The sessions are advertised as running for five hours, but the bar is only open for four hours.

A 250ml beer will cost either $6 or $8, depending on the level of alcohol by volume (ABV). Beers with 10 per cent ABV or stronger can only be bought in 75ml quantities, at a cost of $6 per serve.

About 9500 people attended last year's festival, with 35 per cent coming from outside Wellington.

Visitors spent nearly $2 million in the city.

This year more than 11,000 thirsty festival-goers - which represents around $500,000 in entry fees alone - are expected.

Festival director David Cryer is the man behind Beervana, which was established 10 years ago. He said the festival was still relevant, even though supermarkets and bottle stores now offered expanded selections of craft beers.

"One of the great things about Beervana is in being able to see and talk to the brewers in person under one roof."

Established exhibitors used Beervana as a springboard for new products, and one-off brews, he said. "We also have beers coming in from the USA and Australia, which most New Zealanders could not access without spending a lot of money on airfares and accommodation."

A line-up of more than 60 breweries announced this month would showcase upwards of 250 craft beers and ciders. It included the usual suspects such as Tuatara, Garage Project and 8 Wired Brewing, along with the likes of big multi-nationals Lion and DB Breweries.

A first for the festival will see it host the introductory meeting of the Pink Boots Society New Zealand, a seminar for female professionals in the brewing industry.

It will also host three award-winning Portland brewers, a Portland chef, and one of America's leading beer writers, as part of what's called the "Beervana Exchange". Two Kiwi brewers have recently returned from a trip to Portland as part of that exchange.

Westpac Stadium was a "godsend" venue, helping the event grow quickly, Cryer said.

This year Beervana's culinary director, Martin Bosley, has gathered some of Wellington's top eateries for the festival, including Boulcott St Bistro, Big Bad Wolf and Monsoon Poon.

Gerard Quinn, chief executive of Grow Wellington, said from "Beervana's origins 10 years ago, the region's craft brewing industry has grown to contribute more than $12.3 million to Wellington's economy in 2013. This was likely to double this year."