Overseas brewers welcomed to Beervana

Sales of craft beer in New Zealand have rocketed up 35 percent in the past year.

It hasn't gone unnoticed overseas, with a delegation of American brewers and tourism officials in Wellington ahead of this weekend's Beervana.

Larry Sidor is one of a handful of Oregon brewers in Wellington for the Beervana craft beer festival.

To welcome them here, a group of Kiwi brewers staged a battle of beer and Newshub's Ben Irwin was picked as one of the judges.

It may have seemed like an easy gig, but it did have proper news value.

According to this year's ANZ Craft Beer Report, craft beer now makes up 15 percent of the entire local beer market - up from 9 percent three years ago.

"If you look at New Zealand food culture, we're not about meat and three vege anymore, and I think the same thing is happening with our drinking culture," says Kelly Ryan.

Much like Wellington, Portland has a thriving craft beer industry. Jeff Miller from Travel Portland says it can produce huge economic benefits.

"It's a major economic driver - both in tourism but also in jobs," he says.

"So it makes a big difference on how we do what we do in Portland by having that great craft beer scene."

There are now 168 craft breweries in New Zealand, exporting to 49 different markets.

"There are no better times in the history of the world to drink beer," Mr Sidor says.

"And then from a brewer's perspective, there's no better time in the world to brew beer."

Our booming industry has put New Zealand on the map as a destination for beer-lovers.

"Beer tourism is a thing now, and I think that's incredible exciting - and exciting for Wellington," says Beervana organizer Beth Brash.

The beer-off was voted a tie, which is weird considering it was a best-of-five event.

But for a group of people who starting drinking at noon on a Wednesday, maths probably isn't a strong suit.