Craft beer boom brewing in Wellington

  • 14/08/2015
The country now has 111 craft breweries (file)
The country now has 111 craft breweries (file)

The hop-hungry, the sour-seeking and some just plain thirsty beer lovers will again be tippling their way around Wellington's Westpac Stadium at the country's biggest beer festival this weekend.

With the explosion of interest in craft beer, around 10,000 are expected to attend Beervana on Friday and Saturday, where the stadium's normally staid mainstream beer offerings will expand to about 275 beers (including a few ciders), many boasting ambitious puns in their name.

The 60 brewers are mainly local, but Australian, UK and US brewers are also visiting.

Three Wellington breweries will contest a "battle of the brewers" against famed US craft brewing city Portland.

A regular attraction is also the innovative beers and presentation by Wellington's Garage Project, which is still under wraps and this year involves "lots of scaffolding".

In previous years Beervana has been run by the Brewers Guild and then Cryer Malt's David Cryer, but this year it is being run by new owners the Wellington Culinary Events Trust, a not-for-profit charitable trust, which also runs the Wellington on a Plate food event.

Beervana manager Beth Brash says the only changes to this year's festival will be more heating and seating in the stadium. However, next year "everything will be up for review".

The festival starts a day after ANZ released a study showing that despite New Zealanders drinking less beer overall, consumption off-premise sales of craft beer have risen 42 percent in a year.

The country now has 111 craft breweries, up from 52 in 2010. Around 25 are exporting and 20 more could be selling overseas within two years.

Four out of five brewers cite "following my passion" as their reason for being in the business.