Craft Beer Capital

Craft Beer Capital

Wednesday, 17 April 2019 18:58

Upper Hutt beer fever

Summer may be over, but that doesn’t mean the beer needs to stop flowing.

As we eagerly count down the days to the annual frothy highlight that is Beervana, there’s a perfect festival coming up to hold you over – Greater Wellington BrewDay.

Even better, it’s being held at a new venue in Upper Hutt giving you the perfect excuse to get out into the wider Wellington region and visit one of the Craft Beer Capital’s new hotspots.

Beer really exploded in a new way in Upper Hutt in 2013, when unheralded brewery Panhead took over a section of the old Dunlop factory, long shuttered and mothballed.

As we know, the move was a good one and Panhead exploded. It was also a good move for Upper Hutt, with the South Pacific Industrial Park transforming into Brewtown with, Te Aro and Boneface joining the mix.

So, with BrewDay fast approaching, here’s a few reasons to grab a ticket:



Brewtown, baby

The festival is entering its seventh year, but it hasn’t always been based in Upper Hutt. Starting in a

paddock just outside Martinborough, the event shifted to Trentham Racecourse a few years later to

move closer to the hoards. The Racecourse was fine for a beer festival, but a location purposely built

around beer is even better and Brewtown fits the bill. A shift from February to May has also allowed

for some breathing space away from the crowded summer events calendar (don’t worry, the event

will take place at Brewtown’s spacious undercover area).


Payback for your favourite brewery

Taking part in festivals can actually be quite expensive for a brewery, particularly those of a smaller

stature. Most hope to break even and view it as a marketing exercise, but BrewDay is sweetening

the pot for those taking part this year. When buying tickets, punters can nominate their favourite

brewery and there’s plenty of options – from major players Garage Project and Tuatara to smaller

operations such as Mean Doses and Double Vision. For each mention the brewery will get a rebate,

with 300 mentions earning the brewery entry into the draw for a completely free space. Ka pai.


Take the train

Upper Hutt may seem like it’s very, very far away for those in Wellington City, but you’re forgetting

the train! Jump on some public transport and take the short, scenic trip along the harbour and

through the valley. As an extra bonus, Brewtown is only 650m from the closest station (plus

weekend fares are cheaper, too!).


Surprise, surprise

Brewtown is the permanent home to an ever-growing menagerie of breweries. While the main

facilities of those in residence won’t be part of the festival, Panhead, Boneface and Te Aro are going

the extra mile and creating ‘unique spaces’ at the back of their premises for the event. Exactly what

these will entail is unknown, with the organisers even in the dark themselves as the breweries “want

it to be a surprise for all”.

The summer celebration of food, wine, craft beer and cider that is the Wellington Wine & Food Festival will return to Waitangi Park for 2018.

The festival, which features pop-up menus from a hand-picked selection of top local restaurants, wineries from across the country, along with craft beer and cider, is scheduled for Saturday 27 January at the popular waterfront park.

Organisers Arada Promotions are excited to be able to bring the festival back after inclement weather caused the cancelation of the final two sessions of 2017’s event.

“We had such an awesome session on the Friday night in 2017, so it was really disappointing to have to cancel Saturday’s sessions because of the weather,” says Arada’s Damien Hochberg. “We’ve made some great changes this year, and we reckon these will add to an ever better experience for everyone that comes along."

Festival-goers will be treated to a longer session, running from 12pm – 8pm, more food and wine options, along with top notch musical entertainment from a quality line-up that will be announced in the coming weeks.

Tickets, including a popular VIP option, are currently on sale, with options starting at $34.90 including three wine tasters.

Further details for the event can be found online at

Thursday, 23 November 2017 22:57

Basin beer festival set to be a hit

Wellington’s brand new beer festival, Beers at the Basin, is already proving to be a hit with punters before it has even begun.

To be held at the iconic Basin Reserve on Saturday 9 December, organisers say ticket sales are steadily climbing and expected to reach 4,500-5,000 by event day, a number that the participating breweries are excited about.

Event Manager Thomas Buchanan knows that the crowds are in for a treat.

“We’re stoked with the interest received so far – it’s an awesome concept at a great venue, and we knew we were on to a great thing when we had such good feedback so quickly after announcing. Everything is coming together nicely, and we’ve put extra measures in place to ensure that everyone is catered for – now we just have to trust that Wellington will put on a day of sunshine for us and we’ll be all set!”

While some ticket levels have sold out, there are still a limited number of general admission options available, with corporate group packages on request.

The festival will feature a premium selection of local and national breweries, from Auckland-based The Sawmill Brewery and Urbanaut Brewing Co, to newcomers to the Wellington scene, Whistling Sisters and Heyday.

Attendees will also be able to choose from a range of ciders, wines, and non-alcoholic drinks alongside an extensive selection of street food from some of the region’s favourite vendors.

An exceptional line-up of musicians including headliners The Phoenix Foundation rounds out what looks to be a day of quality entertainment for all.

Further details for the event can be found online at

We are very proud to be helping Winter Ales Festival continue to run in Wellington for 2017 - #WAF2017

SOBA's Winter Ales has historically been one of our favourite Wellington beer events, and we were gutted to hear the initial rumours that it may not be taking place this year. Kudos to two of our fantastic local beer personalities (Jane Street & Jay Taylor) for taking the management reigns and not allowing it to disappear from our annual calendar.

Even though SOBA has opted to not run it directly this year, respect goes out to their committee for allowing the event and its previous resources to be handed off and managed externally for 2017. We can assure you that the managers this year are passionate about good beer and high-quality, good-value events.

The event will be taking place this year on Saturday 22nd July. Tickets will be available via PledgeMe Thursday 1st June.

You can read everything there is to know so far about #WAF2017 on New Zealand's premier Beer News website Beertown.NZ

The Facebook event is now also online, for the latest around-the-clock updates

Tuesday, 04 April 2017 18:45

Hopstock 2017

Hopstock: A celebration of fresh hop beers and Welly’s “globally unique” craft beer scene

The fifth annual Craft Beer Capital Hopstock Festival takes place from 19-24 April, with 22 bars and breweries taking part in 2017’s celebration of fresh hop beers.

Hopstock is a beacon in the calendars of Wellington craft beer drinkers, which sees breweries and Wellington craft beer venues exclusively paired up to showcase the breweries’ “green hop beers” (brewed using harvested hops, fresh off the bine, as opposed to the perennially-used, processed, dried pellet form). Punters follow the Hopstock Fest trail map, in an endeavour to sample these once-a-year beers, collecting a stamp at each craft bar by way of ticking it off the list.

Peter Moran, Hopstock Organiser and Craft Beer Capital Secretary, says Hopstock not only fulfills Craft Beer Capital’s modus operandi of “bringing breweries, bars, punters and everyone else involved in Wellington’s ‘good beer’ industry together”, but also showcases Wellington’s breadth of craft venues and “globally unique beer scene”.

“The trail is about getting people around to Wellington’s awesome craft bars as much as it is about showcasing the breweries and their beers. It’s one of only a couple beer events in the city that actively encourages people to get out and visit its multiple craft destinations.

Peter says that whilst there are other brilliant local beer events throughout the year, these often take place in one venue and people must purchase tickets to attend. Beside purchasing one’s beers, Hopstock is free to partake in, and everyone is welcome to partake.

“Wellington is pretty unique in the sense that there aren’t many cities in the world where you can have a walkabout event like Hopstock, with venues so easily accessible from one to the other. The city’s geographical proximity is definitely what makes our beer scene an exceptional destination.”

Peter says part of the anticipation in the lead up to Hopstock is that each venue has exclusive pouring rights to their allocated beer (confirmed by random draw): “It’s the first and only time you can get these beers in Wellington until the festival is finished.”

The Hopstock trail also caters for sober drinkers, and can be completed without drinking alcohol. Instead, those wishing to abstain can simply gain their trail stamp by purchasing a non-alcoholic drink or food. Hopstock tours are also available for those who wish to go in large groups or put their feet up.

“It’s really important that we support non-drinkers, sober drivers or those who may wish to take a bit of break from the trail by having other options so they can still be a part of the event, whether they choose to drink beer or not,” says Peter.

There will also be a People’s Choice Award, with trail-goers sending their trail maps in to vote for their favourite Hop Harvest beer (completing the trail map is not needed to partake in this).

Peter says Craft Beer Capital is “stoked” with the undeniable growth Hopstock has experienced each year.

“In the beginning, there were about eight beers across 12 bars - some bars were sharing beers! Whereas now we have a waiting list of brewers that want to be involved with Hopstock. More than half of the 22 spots were snapped up by Wellington breweries, and we were able to offer the remaining spots to out-of-town breweries.

“In terms of public interest, it’s definitely grown - last year’s 1000 trail maps were completely snapped up during the event, and around another 1000 were downloaded off the Craft Beer Capital website.”

Hopstock takes place from 19-24 April, 2017, across 22 Wellington venues.

Hopstock Website

Hopstock 2017 on Facebook

Colin Mallon, Malthouse Operations Guy and West Coast IPA Challenge organiser, says this year's 9th Challenge will expand to Malthouse's sister bar, Fork & Brewer on Bond Street, due to increasingly large crowds turning up to see who will win the coveted Golden Gumboots.

The annual event, taking place on Friday, 29 July, sees brewers showcase their skills with hops by brewing West Coast IPAs, a notoriously popular and hoppy style of beer.

"It's become such a big event on the calendar because of people's ongoing and increasingly growing love affair with different beers," Colin says.

"The event has raised awareness of the beer style, and the fun and anticipation leading up to, and on, the night definitely brings people in who necessarily wouldn't class themselves as beer drinkers. You get hardcore beer drinkers bringing their friends, and before you know it, it widens the appeal.

"The last WCIPAC had Malthouse groaning at its seams. The event officially kicks off at 2pm, the bar will be wall-to-wall packed by 4:30pm, with queues out the door by 5pm, and the bar often remaining near capacity until 2am. We sell something in the region of about 40 kegs. It is a huge night for us!

"We were turning people away at the last few WCIPACs, so it made sense to release some of that pressure this year by making Fork & Brewer a co-host."

Colin says Fork & Brewer was the natural choice to co-host the event. It's Malthouse's sister bar, and it's the only place with enough taps to accommodate the 25 beers that will be showcased on the evening.

"Punters at Fork & Brewer need not fear for missing out on any of the beers, celebrations or announcements - all WCIPAC beers will be pouring on tap and announcements made at the same time as at Malthouse," says Colin.

The competition is also making its first foray to Australia with a line-up of WCIPAC beers being flown over the Tasman to feature in tap takeovers at The Local Taphouses in Melbourne and Sydney.

Originally created because July was Malthouse's quietest month, WCIPAC started out with two entrants – Epic Brewing Co. and Hallertau Brewery – in a "mine beer's hoppier than yours" showdown. Epic's entry was Armageddon, which went on to win awards in competitions around the world. Hallertau invented Maximus Humulus Lupulus, which has become a key brew in its 'Heroic' range.

"Back then the Wellington craft beer landscape was quite different – there was Malthouse, Bar Bodega and Bar Edward – and showcasing a specific style was quite unusual," says Colin.

"Now the event showcases 25 beers, has 9-10 judges, some of whom are World Beer Cup judges, and breweries are contacting us to submit entries.

"It's great when you see a brewery that hasn't performed very well, and then come back and next year and they raise their game. Even if they don't win it's really great to see.

"The last thing I wanted this to be was something that was taken too seriously. We want to give brewers a bit of feedback on their entries, but at the end of the day, it is all about celebrating good beer with good people."

West Coast IPA Challenge, from 2pm Friday 29 July, at Malthouse and Fork & Brewer.

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