Don't take it to heart, but we can't wait for Wellington's big beer week
FRITZ KUCKUCK AND MARIA GRAU
Fritz and Maria's Beer Column
We hope it's not some sort of affront to anyone if we say we are very excited to head to Wellington for Choice Beer Week (Good Beer Week was already taken) next week.
No-one should think we are saying that Marchfest isn't good enough, or that the Great Kiwi Beerfest wasn't worthwhile. We wouldn't want it said that we prefer the Craft Beer Capital to the Craft Brewing Capital. Don't make us say we chose it over Drylands.
It's just that Beervana and the week leading up to it are awesome. Wellington has become a great beer city. We have fun and fantastic hosts. We get to connect with our favourite Beeks (if it works for Glee … ) at the many excellent events. We eat a little too much. We drink a little too much. We sleep far too little. And we stay high from the experience for weeks after.
Is there something wrong with us? Are we weird? You don't have to answer that, we will answer for you. The answer is No.
Surprised? We thought you might be, so we have proof to back us up.
We asked a smattering of Beer Professionals (and Beeks) what they look forward to about NZ beer week and what makes it unique. To be fair and balanced, we also asked if there's anything they don't love about it. And they all agreed with us, almost word for word. Actually, their words were far more clever, so here they are:
Another Nelsonian, Sam Wilson of McCashins Brewery, said "I love to get out of town, to soak up the vibe of another city, and indulge in some great food and beer. Wellington is a great city for beer lovers … " And about it pulling together the beer community, Stu McKinlay of Yeastie Boys said, "It is like a giant family reunion."
Several brewers added a perspective we don't have. Simply stated by Dale Holland (Dale's): "I get to meet others in the industry." Andy Deuchars (Renaissance) also noted, "It's great to see the people who like our ales and have a bit of a chat with them."
About the festival itself, Dale pointed out that, "Because of the shorter sessions, it is really a festival for people to try and appreciate small amounts of lots of different beers."
"And there to try the beers and have a good time - not just drink for the sake of drinking," added Emma McCashin of Stoke beer.
Beer and food writer Monica Mead observed that New Zealand is "still lacking here for the most part, the marriage of food and beer, and I love that Beervana is finally doing such a good job of it."
The main downside was a wish that Wellington had a better venue to offer than Westpac Stadium. We resent that it's the only place big enough that will allow the excellent food pairings. To quote Sam Wilson again, "It's a wee walk from anywhere, the venue is cold and doesn't flow very well."
But we all also agree that certainly won't ruin our festival.
Great news for the Nelson Arts Festival: Show Hopper is back! Founders will be making a fourth Arts Fest-inspired brew, so plan for a session before or after a show with this guaranteed winner of a tribute beer.
If you missed Rural Delivery on TV One last week, Stoke's Dean McCashin and his brewery were featured, along with Wakefield hop grower Colin Oldham. You can still catch it online at tvone.co.nz/rural-delivery/video (series 8, episode 22)
A recent survey by Market Research has shown New Zealand craft breweries leading our growing market. The overall market increased by 14% during the second half of 2011, while the number of small breweries has doubled to 30 in the prior 4 years