From sweet to sour and everything in between: Beervana 2016

This weekend saw the return of Beervana, a two day craft beer event, held here in Wellington.  This is the 15th year of the festival, and also the biggest, with 59 breweries and over 300 different beers. There were bars dedicated Wellington’s so called ‘sister city in beer’, Portland, and special bars devoted to sour beer and IPA.  Beers came from New Zealand, Australia and the USA.

With our Beervana glasses (well, made of plastic) and wrist bands that hold ‘Beervana currency’, we were ready to go.  Prices vary according to the strength of the beer, and you can choose between a 75ml taster or 250ml serve, though I have to say that some of the taster servings were often a little over the 75ml.

This year I was far more random in my approach.  I’m not sure if this was a good idea, but it did mean I tasted a couple of different things than I might not have done ordinarily. First up was Tiamana‘s Pilski, a real German style pilsner.  Mini factoid: Tiamana is the Māori word for Germany.  Anyway, it was a refreshing start, and welcome after morning Pilates.



My companions sampled some other beers before we headed over to Behemoth, who must surely get some sort of prize for great labels.  We couldn’t resist the temporary tattoos that were being offered, stating ‘give me something hoppy’, as well as tasting some of the beer.  I went completely off piste (sorry..) and opted for the triple chocolate milk stout,  “a milk stout infused with chocolate malt, Dutch Cocoa powder and Cocoa nibs. Vanilla for good measure”.  Gosh was it good!  Rich and yes chocolatey, and would make a perfect pairing for a bit of rich fruit cake.  This was definitely one of my favourites of the afternoon.  One of my companions opted for the delightfully named ‘Dump the Trump’, a beer that “will build a wall of hops around your taste buds and make Mexico pay for it”. Quite!


Behemoth tattoo on Karl’s hand


A Scottish theme going on here

We stopped for lunch at the Burger Liquor stand, picking up one of their standard burgers, just the right thing for this type of event.  On food, a couple of us thought there was lesson offer than last year, but on reflection, I think there was just as much, but nothing outstanding or different.




Liberty, based in Auckland

I spotted the Good George stall, a Hamilton based brewery who make a gorgeous doris plum cider. Sticking with the ‘try something different’ philosophy, I opted for the Blueberry Gose, a sour wheat based beer with “loads of delicious Waikato blueberries added”.  Normally not a huge fan of sour beer, this one was nice, and had a good fruity flavour.  One of my companions opted for the Tank Infused Grapefruit APA, and we agreed that we had picked the healthy options and hoped they counted to our fruit quota for the day.


Good George


Blueberry Gose

New to us, and to the local craft beer scene, is Choice Bros, described as “a gypsy brewery” who will be opening a brewery and bar on Ghuznee Street here in Wellington.  I tried their Reet Petite, which had a deep reddish colour and a definite taste of ginger.  My companions had to try the wonderfully named ‘I’m Afraid of Americans’, which got a thumbs up.


Choice Bros


Great name for a beer


Petone based Baylands

One of our favourites from last year was Lakeman, based in Taupo. We all opted for the Lahar, a nice aromatic ale with fruity overtones. By this time, we were in need of some more food, so we picked up some chips (fries, whatever you call them) topped with a very hot green chilli sauce, mustard and ketchup. Quite.




Wooden Spoon menu – love the idea of soigne fairy bread


Traffic light disco fries from Wooden Spoon

It was then time to queue up at Wellington based Garage Project, who were celebrating their 5th birthday. In fact, it was quite good there was a queue as it gave us time to decide what to try.  I opted for the Persephone, described as a “tart farmhouse ale brewed with Pomegranate molasses and fresh fruit, spiked with a balsamic reduction”. It was a really excellent brew that I believe they are going to produce on a more regular basis.  My husband opted for the Hakituri, a crisp pilsner which got a rave review.


Happy Birthday Garage Project

My final beer was Birkenhead Brewing Company‘s Pacific Pale Ale, a lovely light end to the afternoon, before heading back out into the rain and heading home.

Some statistics from the Beervana website:


IPAs: 110

Pale Ales: 46

Stouts and Porters: 49

Sours: 39

Ciders: 36


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