Hop-Growing Area Of Nelson A Celebration Of Hops, Craft Beers And Bands
You don’t normally associate New Zealand with craft beer, but an event called MarchFest just might get you raising a pint and toasting the Kiwis.
It features 15 local and regional craft brewers in a festival that also includes bands and grilled food.
Held in Nelson, N.Z., the 2013 event is April 6 and takes place in Founders Heritage Park. Yeah, I don’t understand why it’s called Marchfest since it takes place in April, but after a few good beers, who really cares about the name!? Oktoberfest in Germany takes place in September, after all.
Among the specialty brews created for MarchFest are::
• Sprig & Fern’s ‘Oceania Ale’;
• Totara’s ‘Gold Rush’ lager;
• ‘Mint Lager’ from Lighthouse;
• Mussel Inn’s porter ‘Love Mussel’;
• Golden Bear’s ‘Crowd Pleaser’ lager;
• First-time MarchFest participant, Dales Brewing Co.’s ‘Extra Special Bitter’ ale;
• 8Wired, making a return to MarchFest, with ‘Rastafari Stout’.
Nelson, by the way, is on the eastern shore of Tasman Bay and this event is what organizers call a hop harvest festival. Their version of Oktoberfest, in fact. Nelson is New Zealand’s craft beer capital and boasts more craft breweries per head than anywhere else in the country, with 16.6% of New Zealand’s breweries serving just 2.25% of the country’s population.
That’s a ratio you can raise a pint to salute!
The Nelson region also happens to be New Zealand’s only hop growing area (largely pesticide-free), and it exports world-class hops globally, including to the USA.
Highlighting the South Island’s craft beers, regional cuisine and local music, MarchFest event is the only beer festival in the Southern Hemisphere to commission a variety of beers specifically for an event by regional craft brewers. This year, a record 15 regional craft breweries have created new blends.
The food includes local vendors selling Nana’s Maori bread, Jamaican Jerk Shack, Dutch Touch, Shellz Kitchen, Flavours of Europe, The Mexican and more.
The music lineup features Kiwi supergroup The Bellbirds (featuring Don McGlashan and SJD), Wellington funk/reggae giants Newtown Rocksteady, indie favourites Mara and the Bushkas, country folksters Hobnail Trio. Legendary local alt rock heroes The Immigrants and mystery act Infinite Mellow Ipod.
Tickets are $39 and children under 18 years are fee but of course must be accompanied by an adult or guardian. Individual prices are as follows (one token is $2):
• Beer taster $2 (1 token)
• Half glass of beer $4 (2 tokens)
• Full glass of beer $8 (4 tokens)
• Wine in a beer glass ($6) (3 tokens)
• Wine in a wine glass ($6) (3 tokens)
• Bottle wine ($34) (17 tokens)
Unused tokens can be exchanged for cash until 10 p.m., in the Windmill Entrance/Exit Hall.
I won’t be anywhere Nelson – or New Zealand, for that matter – on April 6. But if I were, I would check it out without hesitation. I suggest you go if you’re anywhere close to Nelson.
Website and Tickets: www.marchfest.com.