The New Zealand Beer Festival 2015

NZBF15Hey there,

As you’ve probably figured out, The New Zealand Beer Festival is taking a break in 2015.

Every year we pick a date that will create the best experience to showcase your wares in Auckland, this year we don’t see a clear “to market” strategy, so we’re focussing our energy on 2016.

This year the Cricket World Cup takes over The Cloud and Shed 10 in February and March. Cruise ships all through April. That pushes us too deep into winter, and there’s just not sufficient space to hold every one indoors.

We investigated other venues around Auckland to host the event, but there’s nowhere to hold an event of our scale without incurring significant infrastructure costs, and we’re conscious of making the event work economically for you too.

We’ve secured a summer date back at the Cloud and Shed 10 for our 10th anniversary in 2016, and we’ll in touch in the coming months with stand availability. We’re amped to make it our best event yet.

We really want to thank you for your support over the last 8 years, particularly 2014. Together we faced the challenge of cyclone Lusi and new licensing restrictions, but we got through and neither slowed our roll. You were great throughout.

Two sessions introduced the festival to a much wider range of customers, and the event attracted another record crowd. We really have seen massive growth in the craft beer sector since we started.

Thanks again team, you’ll hear from us soon as the downtime is going to give us more time to plan ahead and nail that 10th anniversary!

Andrew, David and Gideon

Local Council To Kill Beer Festivals in New Zealand?

On The LawnThere is a new beer festival “On The Lawn” looking to setup at the Mount for a 8th January Beer Festival.

I loved the Blues, Brew & BBQ’s event at the Mount. Shame the local council and police closed it down. It kind of all fell apart once they made it an R18 event, and kids and families couldn’t come any more. It seemed to be preloading cause the majority of the issues.

I really like beer festivals during summer time, where people are having a fun time, and sampling tasty beers in the sun.

Here are some details about “On The Lawn”

No beer over 5%abv ? If Epic was to go we would have ONE beer. So much for people being able to taste a range of different beers and flavours.

“FOOD – BEER – WINE” Question: Does the wine have to be 5% or below?

By controlling the ABV below 5% you are limiting the beer to mainstream industrial lagers, which the public have no respect for. They have no taste and you are just encouraging people to drink large volumes of flavourless beer.  This isn’t an environment to encourage education and sampling of new flavours and beer styles. The council is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy for trouble by implementing this ABV limit.

Not sure how they have sorted this out with the council, after Blues & Brews was closed down, and Bay Brew Fest couldn’t get out of the gates.

Looking forward to more details, and possibly a great event at the Mount, during the coming summer.


Earlier in the year the “Bay Beer Fest” had to cancel their event due at a similar time and location, and made this statement:

Bay Beer Fest“We have had huge support from prospective exhibitors, the public, council, the venue, and liquor licencing.  However the opposition towards the event by Tauranga Police has been our stumbling block.  In order to do justice to the amazing event we have planned, this opposition will not realistically leave us time to work through the issues that have been raised, to deliver the event to the public by 4th January 2015.”





The last I heard about the “New Zealand Beer Festival 2015” in Auckland, was that the limit would be 6% abv for full serve of a beer. Last year the lines were too long because the small serve sizes of 165ml. I would expect they are going to have to do some awesome marketing and have some amazing value proposition to get people to come back after this year.


Dear Council, do you think that limiting the ABV will give you the outcome you want.

It will stop many of the educated, sophisticated beer drinkers from going, as they will be limited to beer with little flavour, or a very limited choice of beer with flavour at these lower ABV levels.

Anyway just some thoughts about how the powers that be, are reducing choice, manipulating and socially engineering the public, “for their own good”.

New Zealand Beer Festival – Auckland 2014 – Review

The New Zealand Beer Festival 2014 is different, it has been changed. Changed by the law. Changed by the interpretation of how to enforce that law. Changed by having to protect the people from harm.

Since it was only last night I am still thinking about how I feel about this event. I still need to talk to others, and collect information to decide whether these changes are good, bad or indifferent.

Just quickly here are my current thoughts. (there are no comments about the weather below, it wasn’t ideal)

165ml ONLY serve – people spent twice as long in lines, to get the beer they wanted to drink. Maybe they tried more different types of beers than they normally would. Maybe they drank the same amounts they normally would if they could get 330ml, and then spend less time in lines. Without doing a wrap up of exactly how much beer we sold (that’s Monday’s job), my gut feel is we sold the same amount as if we had done full pours.

People expressed frustration at spending so much time in line. Some deciding they would leave early and go to the pub (some saying they wouldn’t attend again).


Most of the second session we experienced 9+ people deep at our bar. I had staff commenting this is the first event they haven’t been able to take a break till near the end of the session. We were slammed. We weren’t able to converse with the public and educate them about our beer. The onslaught of people buying half serves was relentless.

If the half serves didn’t equate to less volume drunk. Then what it equated to was frustration and creating an unnatural environment. An environment where normal responsibly people weren’t standing back and relaxing and conversing about the beer they had purchased. They spent most of their time in lines, that could take 15 minutes to get served. How long does it take to drink 165ml of beer? Maybe 15 minutes? less? That meant as soon as you purchased a beer you really needed to get into the next line.

Some people though are happy with sampling 165ml beers, so they can try many different styles of beers. These people who have always done this now need to stand in line twice as long as the 330ml drinkers are in line twice as often.

Possible outcome of this is fewer people will come to the event next year. Why pay $40 to get into a beer festival where you can only by beer for 2/3 of the time of the event, you have to wait in line for 15+ minutes to get 165ml of beer.

165ml every 15 minutes x 4 hours = 2.640 litres is the most you could possibly drink. 660ml per hour, so around a pint. That is a fair amount, and 4 pints is a pretty good night. But that is a best case scenario for getting served. Most people did spend time with their mates.

Is there a better way of doing this. A way where people can actually enjoy themselves and not spend 4 hours standing in lines. If a goal from these changes are to make changes in the way the public drink, then shouldn’t there be some consideration to taking away the urgency of getting a beer.

4 hours of service ONLY – I’m OK with this as it seems to be about the right amount of time, before intoxication starts become visible in a crowd. I hate dealing with dickheads, who think they are pretty witty after a few beers.

The entertainment – yes the weather was poor, but if 8000 people turned up for the beer festival that was offering music that ended at 10pm how many stayed? It was pretty obvious that by 9pm there were only 1000 left watching the band, and the bars had closed at 8pm, the real reason people came to the New Zealand Beer Festival was for the BEER!!! D’uh!

Organisation – I have been involved with the New Zealand Beer Festival since the first year. David, Andrew and Gideon, have done an amazing job of making the event a success in the past. This is the first year where I could fault them on the smooth running of the event. It seems as though they had to put all their energy and resources into complying with condition from the licensing, council and police. They took their focus off the event.

The big question now needs to be asked of the Police. Was their more or less trouble from this event compared to last year? How many people were admitted to hospital with alcohol related injuries? and had they actually attended the Beer Festival? Was that more or less than last year? As this seems to be measure of an event these days. Is this event ever compared to an average Saturday night?

Was the additional cost of having 1 x security guard and 1 x bar manager (put in by the event organisers) worth it? Seemed extreme to have those two people monitoring the fill heights throughout the day. Maybe one would have been as cost-effective?

One thing that was unsettling and only talked about briefly was the videoing of the public entering the event. Videoing of staff serving. What will this video be used for. Will it be destroyed now that it isn’t required? I personally didn’t see this first hand, but it doesn’t make me ask the question – what is the footage for? Where was the notification letting the people know that they could and would be videoed? Is this something we just need to get use to so that everyone can be safe?

New Zealand Beer Festival 2014




Will there be a New Zealand Beer Festival in 2015?






See the Facebook Discussion here

Neil Miller does a little write up –

Geoff Griggs article –
Heavy-handed law interpretations take toll

P.S. Sorry for the above. After re-reading it I think I found my overall experience was less positive than I had had in the previous years. Love to get other people’s feedback.

ON MY MIND – Beer things I should write about

There are things I am currently thinking about but haven’t had the time to put my ideas down in words, and think through what it means, and what I think about it. So rather than them getting lost here is a bit of a brain dump…

New Zealand Beer FestivalNew Zealand Beer Festival – maximum serve 165ml, bar closes 2 hours before session ends 10am-3pm & 4pm-10pm. Beer Festival where you can’t buy beer? no beer over 9% but you can buy wine (which is likely to be 12-14%)? (Discussion here)

Great Kiwi Beer Festival – 11.30am -7pm (7.5 hours to sample beers vs 4 hours in Auckland) How come there are different interpretations of the law, or what local councils and police see as appropriate in different parts of the country. Are people in Christchurch more responsible and cause less harm vs Aucklanders?

Beer Festivals – over the years I have found that 4 hours is actually about the right amount of time for people to sample a fair range of beers, before you start seeing effects of intoxication. The recent blanc Beer Fest, seemed to naturally start slowing down at around 5pm, after starting at 1pm and went to 7pm. It might have had something to do with the time of day, and people having plans for later on in the evening.

New World Beer Awards vs Brewers Guild Beer Awards – a previous sponsor now to run their own beer awards, at a similar time of year. It will be interesting to keep an eye on the developments with these two competitions. Wonder how Super Liquor will feel about this?

Kegs – how to manage your kegs, so you get them back, so you can put your beer in them so you can sell more beer.

Craft Beer Pricing – new craft breweries entering the craft beer space, under cutting the market on price. Does cheaper pricing equal larger volume sold? Or does it just erode everyone’s margins. Does craft beer price discounting work for anyone? Will it be a race to the bottom?

Just some thoughts for now….

NZ BEER FESTIVAL SEASON – Looking forward, not back

Rather than doing a wrap up for February (you can look back over the posts here) I am doing a look forward for the coming month. Some feedback I received was people reading this blog wanted to know about what’s coming up rather than finding out about things that have happened, that they didn’t know about.

So this is what the coming month for me looks like


6th March –  Epic Carolina with Culley’s Hot Wings Eating Competition – Malthouse, Wellington
7th March – Epic Carolina with Hot Wings sampling for all – Skysports Grill, Viaduct, Auckland
10/11th March – Visit to Hop Harvest, Nelson
13th March – Stone Brewing Co. (with Greg Koch) City Tap Takeover, Malthouse and Fork & Brewer, Wellington
15th March – The New Zealand Beer Festival, Auckland (1st day of Epic Mosaic IPA – KEG ONLY)
17th March – Get beer ready to ship to the Australian International Beer Awards
18th March – Brewing Green/Wet Hop Beer
19th March – Nine Inch Nails & QOTSA?
21st March – Epic Mosaic IPA Launch (and some hot sauce action thanks to Culley’s), Brew on Quay, Auckland
27/28th March – Christchurch
29th March – The Great Kiwi Beer Festival, .feat Stone Brewing Co. beers & Greg Koch (on the shared Epic/Stone stall), Christchurch

Luke on a plane


I’m sure there will be other things I do, and other things that are on that I could attend if I had the time, but this should be enough. Still have to fit in the everyday other stuff, plus some sleep. Maybe a link to Air New Zealand here would be good since I am going on 8 flights this month. (maybe even make a wish to the @AirNZFairy )








February 2014
There are a few additional things from last month…

  • I made the big move from Blogger to WordPress which took a few days to get setup and working. The one small issue with that is the first few weeks of posts now have slightly different URL’s than what I have post out in the wild so my link backs won’t be working. (Working on it).

Michael Donaldson - SST – NZ’s beer style – Michael Donaldson also wrote about this in his column in the Sunday Star Times

  • Regarding training of bar staff which I pointed to in this post, I found out that an off flavours training was held last weekend. Here is a great write-up about it, but wished I knew earlier about it, so more people could have attended. Maybe something that could be repeated for interested bar staff/owners? I’ve been told that you would have been notified if you were part of this online community.

  • If you made it this far, then you might be enjoying my posts. I have been adding posts without notifications or sharing on social media. So if you want them all, please make sure you add your email address to subscribe (top of right hand column).

  • Please comment on posts if you have an opinion, or send me an email if you have a suggestion for a post or information you would like me to expand on.