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No cheer for local beer

By Geoff Vause
[email protected]
Three Wairarapa boutique breweries won’t be on show at Beervana this year.
Held at the Westpac Stadium this weekend, the event is designed to showcase New Zealand’s brewers, but two of Wairarapa’s best are finding it too costly to attend, and the third can’t afford the time.
Regent 58 Brewery’s Brent Goble said he and business partner Gary Fisher had decided Beervana “just wasn’t worth it”.
“It’s a great money maker for the organisers, but not for the exhibitors,” Mr Goble said.
“I’m not sure the punters are getting a good deal either,” he said.
“It’s a business now rather than a promotional event.
“We were at the event every year until a few years back and made good contacts, we met people in the industry, there were lots of positives.
“Now it’s about the big players who have plenty of money.”
He said the cost of participating had recently doubled from $1600 to around $3200 – a figure disputed by organisers.
He said Regent was brewing about 15,000 litres in seven main styles and wanted to remain a local product.
Peak Brewery near Masterton has also dropped out of Beervana.
“It’s too costly for small breweries,” Mr Morgan said.
“It suits the larger breweries who want to show what they’re up to.
“We understand they have to pay for the stadium, licensing, security, and they want to build it into a larger Wellington on a Plate event.
“But not everyone can be involved in that,” he said.
Mr Morgan said he brewed several times each year, particularly in the warmer months, in batches of around 400 litres in eight styles.
His focus was on gate sales and he recently signed up with an Auckland distributor.
Martinborough Brewery’s Hayden Frew said he would not be exhibiting at Beervana but would attend with wife Janalle to sample the brews on offer.
“I sold another business a few months back to concentrate on brewing fulltime,” Mr Frew said.
“I didn’t have time to get geared up. There’s the trade stand to put together to look professional. It’s a whole other project. We could cover costs, maybe,” he said.
“We would look at combining with other brewers for next year.”
Beth Brash manages Beervana for the Wellington Culinary Events Trust and said she was unsure where the participation figures had come from.
“The entry point is $1800 for two breweries on a shared stand,” Ms Brash said.
“I don’t know where the $3200 comes from.”
Ms Brash said the event had been taken over by the not-for-profit trust last year and had seen “enormous take-up” by brewers.
“Beervana will go right around the stadium this year, and we have sold as many tickets as the total last year, with a week to go,” she said.
“The shared stand is a regular stand split in two at $1800 for each brewer. We have nine of those, so its 18 small breweries.
“They may be referring to the brewers’ bar with two taps and a logo behind you, and we got rid of those.”
Ms Brash said she was a lover of craft beer, and was pleased with the trust structure.
“We can genuinely say the success is put back in year on year to build a pedestal for the industry.”

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