We are in Wellington for Beerana and its associated festivities. Friends are doubtful of our stamina – 4 days of beer, hours of standing, talking, writing and tasting. There are events at the local taverns, with Hashigo Zake putting on events every night. Then there are the industry events, with Wednesday’s Mashing In, and Thursday’ s BrewNZ Awards. Finally, on Friday and Saturday there are two sessions each day of Beervana itself – 200 beers, over 80 breweries. This is a Challenge.
We need a strategy. Eliminate the BrewNZ award dinner and save the cash and give the liver a break. A quick review of the Beervana tasting notes reveals 85 beers that we haven’t had and should try. First come the high priority breweries like the Garage Project and ParrotDog which will be limited supply and, being Wellington based, will surely be local favourites. We are unfamiliar with the Aussie breweries, so they go on the list. Next are the breweries we know and like, such as 8 Wired and Emersons which have new offerings. That’s 25 beers which we can knock out in the first session… yeah right. Of course the big beers need to come later, and the hoppy beers too. Which means that the Mild will be one of the first beers of the session.
Pity that Arrow brewing isn’t on the list – they were some of Fritz’s favourites in 2010.
The tasting notes have descriptions, with words like “lambent” (Her Majesty Imperial Saison), “barnyard” (Porter Noir) and “fresh sweat” (Hop Zombie)- intriguing! Plus sweetness and bitterness ratings on a 5 point scale – we’ve never had a tool like this presented for an event. iStout is a 5-sweet, and Liberty Citra is a 5-bitter. Superconductor is a 5-bitter too, so 8 Wired runs the gamut. Feral Funky sour is one of the few with low scores on both scales – 2 bitter, 1 sweet, and the Feral Boris RIS and Monk Brewery and Kitchen Chief IPA are both 5 bitter 4 sweet.
There are some inconsistencies based on our experience – Hop Zombie is only a 2 sweet, yet we thought it tasted like hop lollies- better add it to the list just to see. Some of the Stoke products are odd, too. The KPA isn’t sweeter than the stout in our experience.
Who will we talk to? Here is another list to sort out. We tried to schedule a few interviews, and otherwise we will have to wing it. Basic questions come in two flavours – hints/tips/news for breweries and what to try – these all modify the list for Beervana. Anyone from out of the country gets prodded for comparisons with NZ brewing scene, any brewery we don’t know gets basic bio questions and “tell us about your beer” questions.
OK, now we have a challenge, a plan and anticipation…