The Beer Bible: 25 Must-Tries At Beervana 2021

BY SOPHIE CHUNG

With more than 430 beers to choose from, you won’t regret bookmarking this when you get to Sky Stadium for Beervana in Wellington (13-14 August).

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10 AUG - 2021

You’ve got 5 hours - better make ‘em count!

A major misconception of Beervana is that the festival just offers beer. So let’s just straighten that up as there’s plenty of delicious food vendors and non-beer drink options to imbibe. Some drops to try this year is the Buzz Club Rātā Blossom + Feijoa Session Mead; the honey produced from rātā nectar creates a super smooth and buttery honey which pairs incredibly well with Waikato feijoas, apple, guava and pineapple for a floral and fruit-forward drink; Peckham’s Cider Hazy Bite; created by Boneface, this is a blend of Kingston Black cider blended and a fruity, hazy beer; Dirty Water Cherry Peach Brewed Seltzer; vodka soda can take a hike - this hard seltzer uses real fruit, is gluten free and only 95 calories; and Crimson Badger Brewing Dark and Grizzly; an alcoholic ginger beer cocktail with rum and lime to finish off the night.

When you get peckish, there’s over 25 stalls of Wellington’s best festival food at Beervana, from oysters to whitebait fritters, tacos, fried chicken, vegan creations and desserts. The other thing to note is that you don’t actually have 5 hours - you’ve got 4 hours - as the last hour is a wind-down where water and food is encouraged. To prevent a raging hangover, I STRONGLY suggest having a glass of water with each brew. It’s something that most people forget while in a euphoric state but you’ll thank me the morning after if you follow my lead. I’m pretty much a professional drinker (as proven by my acupuncturist) and keeping hydrated has alleviated a great deal of suffering since I decided to make drinking water a habit. Hangovers get worse with age, but the wisdom to keep the body hydrated will allow you to party like you’re 21 again - without the hangover.

Now that we’ve covered the health and safety procedures, it’s time for lift off. I’m going to start with the sours (because they’re my favourite) and then I’ll segway into the best IPAs, hybrids and finish off with the stouts and porters. I’ll be using this as my own personal Beervana manual so it’s going to be more or less in the order of imbibing. Leshgo!

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New Kids on the Block Watermelon & Lime Sherbet Oat Cream Sour, 4.5%.

I love an extremely sour beer and I also love a good pulled milk tea so I’m hoping this tastes as heavenly as it sounds. They use lactose/milk sugar, a sour yeast strain and watermelon in the brewing process, then they top it off with lime sherbet on the rim. I imagine it will be like those 10c TNTs we used to get at the corner shop. If you were born around Y2K, you probably don’t know wtf I’m on about. Speaking of 10c lollies, I’ve been feeling the inflation massively recently.

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8 Wired Brewing Celery Salt Hippy, 4%.

I love the sour beers that are produced by 8 Wired. In particular, their chardonnay barrel aged feijoa sour is absolutely iconic. Celery Salt is a savoury sour ale that’s super refreshing - kind of like a green juice.

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Deep Creek Brewing Co. Framboise Noir, 7%.

Deep Creek is an absolute go-to for premium fruit sours. I can’t recollect how many Aloha guava passionfruit sours I’ve had over the years. The Framboise Noir is a Belgian style fruit lambic but with darker malts. If you love Lindt raspberry dark chocolate, you might want to try this barrel aged dark raspberry sour as it’s made with an immense amount of love and care - it’s aged for 12 to 28 months in New Zealand red wine barrels and second-use Kentucky bourbon barrels, then another 3 months on raspberries and further bottle conditioned for 8 months.

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JuiceHead Beer Inferno of Funk, 5.5%.

If you love a super fresh and juicy taste, JuiceHead brews have creations that are absolutely burst with flavour - as the name states. They’ve got a few sours on tap this year and they all sound like must-tries but the Bird Eye chilli-infused Mind Funk Tropical Sour sounds like a damn dream. Think chilli margs but way juicier.

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Parrotdog Brewery Matt Mosaic Lager, 5.5%.

As understated as they are, lagers require the most finesse when brewing as errors can not be masked - there’s absolutely no place to hide. This one’s got blueberry and lemon peel to make a smooth and crisp drop - perfect to break the flavour flow between your sours and the gruntier stuff.

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Waitoa Social Club Beerquet of Roses, 7%.

Let’s dive into the IPAs. This one is strong and bitter with a delicate touch of rose water for a floral composition. If Jo Malone ever made a beer, it would probably taste like this.

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Renaissance Brewing Co. 90 Hour Hazy IPA, 7.5%.

Talk about blood, sweat and tears! A+++ for effort. This is a West Coast style IPA that’s been dry hopped every hour on the hour for 90 hours straight! Very fruit-forward with loads of tropical notes like pineapple, grapefruit and passionfruit, I can’t wait to quench my premature thirst with this tall order.

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Shining Peak Brewing Skunk Juice Hazy IPA, 6.2%.

Brewed with stinky natural gasses, Sulphide and Methyl Mercaptan, Skunk Juice uses mosaic and citra hops for this uber fragrant drink. You’ll scrunch your nose at the sheer pong during the brewing process from two miles away, but the end product is absolute perfection with tropical and citrus notes.

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Lakeman Brewing Co. Hillbilly Milk, 6.5%.

Hailing from Taupo, the Hillbilly Milk is a velvety oat cream hazy - think stone fruits, grapefruit and berries in this smooth brew.

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Parrotdog Brewery Matt Bright IPA, 7%.

Hazys always give me the worst headaches so it’s time to step away from them for something crisp, clean and a bit more filtered. The Bright IPA from Parrotdog is dank with a firm bitterness and you’ll be able to pick up notes of grapefruit and passionfruit.

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Whistling Sisters Beer Co. 8 Spice Thai Green Curry Beer, 4.8%.

There were a couple of spiced beers available last time I was at Beervana - it’s not too bad!

You’ll pick up ginger, lemongrass and lime leaf in the Spice Thai Green Curry Beer and of course, you’ll be able to taste coriander, cumin and chilli in this flavour-packed brew. The visuals also match the flavour with its light green hue.

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The Occasional Brewer Skyline Bush Beer, 4.7%.

An ode to the first beers brewed in New Zealand, The Occasional Brewer have created a kānuka ale. Made in the same fashion as the early European settlers by substituting traditional ingredients with local flora and fauna.

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Rhyme & Reason Crema di Limoncello, 6.6%.

Smooth and creamy, you can expect this to have a sweet tartness just like everyone’s favourite Italian liqueur. Being a milkshake kettle sour, there’s plenty of citrus, sugar and lactose in this brew that deserves to be had on a super yacht in the Med. Can you tell I’ve been binging on Below Deck?

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Clear Head Drinks SOBAH Finger Lime Cerveza, <0.5%.

At this point, you might need a fresh and low alcohol Mexican style lager to cleanse the palate before jumping back into the sweet and creamy stouts and porters to come. This Finger Lime Cerveza is zesty and tangy with a nuttiness that’s really favourable. If you’re into your skincare, you’ll probably know that Australian finger lime is the it-fruit with the most antioxidants. Think of it as your mid-beer-festival vitamin injection.

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Altitude Brewing Banoffee Pie Amber Ale, 9.6%.

Crushed malt biscuits accompany the barley grains and a truck full of bananas are sent to the fermentor. Topped with vanilla beans and caramel sauce, you’ve got yourself a decadent winter dessert ale to warm you in windy Welly.

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Garage Project Two Tap Mocha, 7%.

This one is a bit interactive - there’ll probably be some enthusiastic loud noises while the chocolate and coffee imperial stout is topped with a milk cream ale poured on nitro. Velvety smooth, it’ll be served with choc powder and marshmallows. Really satiating for those with a sweet tooth.

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Duncan’s Brewing Duncan’s Party Mix: Maple Cherry Float, 7.6%.

I’m more excited about these dessert beers than I was about Mr. Whippy when I was a kid. Their Maple Scorched Almond Imperial Pastry Stout is topped with a slushie float of the Triple Cherry Berry Smoothie Sour. If you’re allergic to peanuts but not almonds, go live out your nut dreams with this one.

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Mean Doses Dark Star Peanut Chilli Porter, 8%.

And if you don’t have a peanut allergy - the marriage of Opotiki habanero and malts are *chef’s kisses.*

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Fork & Brewer Calm As Cookies and Cream Session Stout, 3%.

Love is in the air - this one’s a real aww moment - made in collaboration with Beervana to celebrate 10 years of love between the Beervana’s Manager, Ryan McArthur, and former Beervana volunteer, now Fork Head Brewer, Brayden Rawlinson.

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Boneface Brewing Co. Sliver Me Timbers Beer Cocktail, 9.6%.

Rum, mint and lime are added to Boneface’s new release, now iconic mango sour to create an insane tropical mojito. Freaking yum.

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It’s getting pretty boozy towards the end, hey? If you love an old fashioned, the bourbon, rich walnut and gooey maple syrup in this stout will have you weak at the knees.

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Perky Nana banana, chocolate and coconut cream pastry - you’ll go ape s**t for this.

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The Beer Engine Llews Morels Stout, 5.6%.

They’ve gone full fungal. It’s a weird concept but it’s rather bougie, if you think about it. This is an oyster mushroom stout with a few more different types of mushrooms thrown in for good measure. Rounded out with rosemary and salt, it’s a savoury stout worth tasting.

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Three Sisters Brewery Straight Outta Plumpton imperial stout, 12.5%.

Last but not least, you can finish off the night with a plum and dark cherry imperial stout. Cacao, roasted coffee beans, malt, plum, tart cherry and decadent pastry notes combine for this spectacular party drink.

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