The New Zealand winter's colder months bring a great supply of new beers to try, and also some of the best beer festivals of the year.
In Wellington, Beervana kicks off on August 9 for a weekend of beer indulgence, sharing and judging.
But acting as a warm-up is the Society of Beer Advocates (SOBA) annual Winter Ales Festival.
A celebration of all the good things about beer, it's doubling in size this year and is a great opportunity to try some of those big, darker beers you've been afraid of.
Another to look out for in Wellington is The Pacific Beer Expo in October, run by Hashigo Zake with beers from Pacific Rim countries such as the United States, Australia and Japan it's on the list this year.
There are some pretty special events around the world as well.
Here are five (I'm leaving out Oktoberfest, everyone knows that one) that would be worth putting on your bucket list:
Mondial de la Biere - Montreal, Canada
Having just celebrated it's 20th year, the festival is Canada's largest and one of the biggest in North America. Attracting more than 80,000 people, entry if free during the four-day festival (beer extra!).
Raley Field Brewfest - Sacremento, California
We all know the great tradition of having a beer at a baseball game, but this takes it to a whole new level. Held at the home of the Triple-A team, the Sacremento River Cats, vendors set up in a semi-circle around the playing surface permimeter with a stage at second base.
Pilsen Fest - Pilsen, Czech Republic
As the name suggests, this festival is held in honour of the first Pilsner brewed in 1842. Held by the Pilsner Urquell Brewery, the two-day festival features bands on stages throughout the town.
Quingdao International Beer Festival - Quingdao, China
This festival is so epic, it is usually hosted in its own venue dubbed "Quingdao Beer City". But this year renovations are underway, so it will instead be run from "Beer Passion Square". The largest festival in Asia is also one of the cheapest, and even allows punters to partake in karaoke in front of an audience of thousands.
The Great Japan Beer Festival - Multiple locations, Japan
The Japanese take everything seriously, and beer is no exception. Not satisfied with a festival in one city, this one is spread out over four. Kicking off in Tokyo in June, the real hardcore can then follow the festival to Osaka in July, Nagoya in August and Yokohama in September.
Have you been to any of the above festivals? Know another that's a must-do? What's your favourite New Zealand beer festival?
- The Dominion Post