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March 15, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

OMG St Patrick’s Day!


It’s St Patrick’s day on Wednesday! I’ll write something about Guinness and Irish beer! Actually, that’s been overdone. Instead, I’ll write about the recent festival showcasing some of New Zealand’s best craft breweries. 

I approached the Liquorland Beer Festival with memories of mud, rain and wind from last year’s festival. However, it seems the organisers learned their lesson from 2009 and this year’s festival was indoors at the Westpac Stadium.

The Brewer’s Guild had more involvement, presenting a set of beer and food matchings. These were educational and gave brewers a chance to talk to craft beer enthusiasts and vice versa. But of course beer was the main event, and there were a few new and rare beers which are worthy of a mention.

A highlight of the festival was learning about the Kaimai Brewing Company. This is a company I’ve been hearing about over the last year but have not seen any of their beers on the shelf. It turns out this is because all of their beer was being exported to various countries.

Soon we will be able to sample their odd beers, like Kaimai Rye Porter. As you can tell from the name, this beer is made using rye. Barley and wheat are normally used to make beer, so a rye beer is quite a treat. The rye imparts a tart, almost minty flavour to the beer, which works well with its medium body and prominent roasty flavours.

Mata made a splash by showing off two brand new beers, their Amber Ale and Witbier. Mata is a very consistent brewery, which has been focusing on styles which are less intimidating to the average beer drinker, but with their witbier they’ve broken this pattern.

Witbier is a Belgian style of wheat beer which traditionally uses coriander and orange peel. Mata have used coriander and tangelo in their take on the style. These really come through in the flavour and give the beer a big character.

While this beer hasn’t been bottled yet, a preview keg will be going on at Hashigo Zake this week.

I departed the festival early to avoid the carnage that comes with thousands of people drinking for eight hours. This year I left mudless and satisfied, and was pleased that so many people were enjoying some amazing beer from small New Zealand breweries.

If you have any questions about this week’s beers or any comments, please email me at

CORRECTION: In my previous column ‘Beers not for the Heliophobic’ I stated that the best value craft beer in the country—Rooster’s Summer Ale—cost $10 per 1.25L from Regional Wines and Spirits. It is actually $10.80 per 2L. Go get some.


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