While I was down in Wellington, I met some people, drank some beer and saw some art. I also got soaking wet socks, took my suitcase into a supermarket, and totally overcame my fear of drinking alone.
But the best part is looking back on the festival and seeing how much creativity was there and potential for diverse experiences.
The stalls ranged from a simple set-up with a tablecloth and a few bottles, these type of stalls were typically manned or womanned by the brewer themselves, to a slick party-vibe set-up (such as Garage Project, celebrating their 5th birthday who provided party hats and where you could buy fairy bread and Traffic Light themed beverages!)
I also especially liked Eagle Brewery’s “Brewing Bad”, a Breaking Bad themed bar, which is also where I tried the most unusual beer of the night. The Arty Farty Sahti tasted like dried bananas, with a lovely smooth rich mouthfeel. My review on the beervana app is “If u like deep fried bananas this beer is for you!!” Okay maybe I had fried food on my brain by this point in the night, or my brain was totally fried, but it’s accurate!
“A complex mix of Juniper, clove, banana and sweet rye malt.” Sahti is a Finnish farm-style beer, developed using ingredients available near the farm such as Juniper branches, berries, herbs and spices. It is a cloudy beer, made using a long step infusion mash and traditionally filtered through Juniper twigs or made using Juniper berries instead of hops. It has yeasty and phenolic flavours and a distinct banana taste due to the production of isoamyl acetate by the yeast used. Some examples have a sour quality, but this one was on the dessert spectrum.
I kind of over-did the sour beers, the Traffic Light from Garage Project literally tipped me over the edge at 3.0% ABV. I was thankful to taste a decent APA (or an IPL from Basecamp Brewery, Oregon). I came across an excellent hoppy Pilsner called “Pop’n Pils” from B.effect Brewing Co. based in Wanaka. They said it was a hit at Ryhthm and Alps, and I can see why. It sings out Summer Festivals for me.
Another interesting discovery were Mash Tun Crackers, reincarnated from mash used to make Tuatara’s Heather Ale “Heather lives on.” I found the Heather Ale a little tart for me at that point, preferring Tuatara’s Wild Pumpkin Ale that had a bit more sweetness and finished with a nice touch of vegetable character. And I just can’t get enough of Good George’s Blueberry Gose, “Fruity, dry, balanced, all round yum-ness” my notes say approvingly.
So those were my highlights. I tasted around 30 beers in total, over three sessions. I made some new friends, partied at the Choice Bros Silent Disco, then made a trip to the Wellington City Gallery the next day. There I discovered a wonderful 1960s pop-hippie artist, a Catholic Nun, activist and teacher called Sister Corita.
Sister Corita’s art rules are me in a nutshell. Do the things and worry about why afterwards. Don’t try to create and analyse at the same time. Drink the beer, talk to the people, go to the places. “Rule 4: Consider Everything An Experiment.”