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September 6, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Beervana Reached

Wellington was filled to bursting with brewers, beer geeks and Discovery Channel cameras when New Zealand’s biggest week of beer appreciation hit our windy shores last week.

Our BrewNZ weekend began with the shocking announcement that Dominion Breweries was crowned New Zealand’s champion brewery of 2010. While this announcement was met with some shock, and even a few walk-outs at the awards, it goes to show that DB do what they aim to do—make clean, easy lagers—well.

The big guys had their night, but during the weekend it was the innovative, craft breweries which stood centre stage. Over 100 beers from Invercargill to Delaware were made available to the public during the peak of festivities on the weekend—Beervana.

But which beers are worth revisiting after the hangover?

Dave’s Faves:

Each year the BrewNZ awards includes a festive category, to challenge breweries to make beers to a certain theme. This year’s festive brew was ‘Go Native’. Most breweries took this to mean ‘put a native tree or vege in a beer’. Three Boys brewery of Christchurch took it to mean ‘dice up some pineapple lumps, and throw them in a porter’. Thankfully Three Boys Pineapple Lump didn’t reek of the native treat—it was a full bodied, intensely roasty porter with just a hint of lumpy goodness.

8 Wired The Big Hangi showed just as much innovation. They took the recipe of their smoked porter, and replaced the beechwood smoked malt with manuka smoked kumara. The huge amount of smoked starch made drinking it like eating a plate of delicious roast kumara. A pity only 50L was made; can someone donate 8 Wired 500kg of kumara so they can make a full batch?

Denise’s Standouts:

This year, Beervana was the launch pad for Tuatara’s 10th anniversary ale, simply titled X. Brewed in the style of a Belgian Tripel, Tuatara X is like the brewery’s Ardennes on steroids. When the brewery initially brewed Ardennes, they released it at about 8-9 per cent ABV. While it’s at 6.5 per cent today, for their 10th birthday, Tuatara’s gone back to its roots. This strong, Belgian beer has an amplified caramel and coriander profile, with the more subtle hints of vanilla and orange peel—and the alcohol’s hidden incredibly well.
Yet in complete contrast to almost every other beer released at or around Beervana, Yeastie Boys Punkadiddle 3.7 per cent is a subtle, red English ale which is all about the malt. Dubbed “hop-hater” by the Yeastie crew, the beer’s the complete opposite of the hoppy, strong craft ales that have dominated the scene this year. With a creamy texture, a biscuity flavour and hints of roast malt and light fruit, Punkadiddle is one of Beervana’s best.

When the Beervana leftovers trickle out of the town hall, they should wind up at Hashigo Zake and Malthouse. Keep an eye out.

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


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