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April 2012

A Big Thank You

Photo: Maree Shaw

It’s been over a week since the Hop and I think everyone’s managed to recover sufficiently to start thinking about the next big beer event. But before we move on to the next big thing, I’d like to thank a few people.

These peeps put in some hard yards and they all deserve a beer (or two or three):
– Danielle Harris – created the logo, web banner and put together the Hop guide book.
– Damian Peterson – provided invaluable help with setting up the website and the payments system.
– EJ Goodhew -provided excellent event organisation advice from the get-go.
– Sally Peterson – took registrations on the day in the friendliest manner.
– Toru Stewart – drove the mini-bus on its route around town – a fairly big sacrifice on a pub crawl!
– Maree Shaw – took photos for the Hop guidebook and on the day.

I would also like to thank everyone who came on the Hop. Everyone turned up ready to make the most of the day – and this is what made the day what it was. In the post-Hop survey, when asked what they enjoyed most about the day, nearly all replied that it was the people – getting to meet like-minded people and hung out, talking about beer.  So a big thanks to everyone who came along!

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Eight Awesome Things to do on the Hop

The Hop’s coming up this Saturday! Here’s eight things to do while on the Hop:

1) Chow down at Galbraith’s Ale House
The chef at Galbraith’s has really hit their stride of late. The meals coming out of the kitchen of late have been delicious – my personal favourites are the soup (doesn’t matter what it is, it’s all good) and the Stout beef burger with crispy onion rings.

2) Chat with Epic’s Luke Nicholas at Corner Bar
Luke needs no introduction really – we all know he’s the man behind Epic, Armageddon, Mayhem and Hop Zombie. This Saturday, he’ll be chilling at Corner Bar (exact time TBC), with samples of Epic’s Coffee Fig Stout, chatting to Hoppers.

3) Check out the brew kit at Shakespeare’s Tavern with Ben Middlemiss
Shakespeare’s Tavern was New Zealand’s first brewpub and after a bit of a hiatus, is back. Ben Middlemiss has brought the brewery back and will be at Shakespeare’s on Saturday, talking about how the journey back to production (exact times TBC).

4) Groove out to the music in SkySport Grill.
The music at SkySport Grill is old-school, cheesy as an American pizza and absolutely awesome. When the Hop graphic designer, Danielle, and I were there taking photos, every second song was meet with a delighted exclamation – and a fair amount of singing!

5) Sit in the sun at Andrew Andrew
One thing Auckland is missing is a beer garden, but Andrew Andrew is a pretty good alternative. Their outdoor area catches the afternoon sun perfectly, their seats are good and comfy and they’ve got several craft beers on tap.

6) Find fellow beer geeks in Auckland.
I thought I knew most of the beer geeks in Auckland, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find people I’ve never meet signing up for the Hop! Come along and meet more people focused on hunting out great beer in Auckland.

7) See the Auckland beer scene change – almost before your eyes!
Vulcan Lane’s O’Carroll’s Freehouse is the perfect place to see just how far Auckland’s beer scene’s come in a very short space of time. It’s hard to believe that not long ago, it was just another Irish bar, offering mainstream beers. Now it’s had a facelift, got good Kiwi beer on tap and has a few surprises on its beer menu!

8) Learn something new about the Auckland craft beer scene.
I’m sure even the most hardened beer buff will learn something new from coming on the Auckland Bar Hop. In fact, with so much to explore and so many people to meet, I’ll eat my hat if you don’t learn something new!*

If any of these sound like something you’d like to do this weekend, get on the Hop registration page and buy your Hop ticket now!

*disclaimer: ‘hat’ may mean a cake shaped to look like a hat.

NZBF: Pleasantly surprised

Photo: Laurence Smith/Fairfax NZ

I have to admit, I woke on Saturday with dread in my heart. It was the New Zealand Beer Festival day and despite all my positive thinking and words of encouragement, I’d realised the night before that ten thousand people had bought tickets to the festival. I knew there isn’t ten thousand beer geeks in Auckland. I remembered last year. I’d seen this year’s advertising, which stressed the music and dressing up. I worried.

I needn’t have. The New Zealand Beer Festival was lovely, pure and simple. Sure, it wasn’t without it’s faults, but it was such a vast improvement on last year, it’s hard to tell if it was run by the same people.

The good:
– the crowd – a mix of young, old, male, female, bogan, geek and everything in between. It was great to see a lot of couples there, trying out beers together or with the missus trying the ciders on show. I won’t even begrudge that – it gave the festival a less lager lout atmosphere. The older people who were there were also a calming influence.
– the venue – the Cloud is the most amazing space to have a beer festival. The beer stands were inside the Cloud, a large, light airy building, while the music stage and food carts outside. Having the stage outside drew many of the more party types outside, leaving people who’d rather chat able to do so inside.
– the range of beers – there were more craft beers than you could shake a stick at, with mike’s, Mata, Yeastie Boys, Three Boys, Tuatara, and many more. Several beers I hadn’t tried before and some treats were served on handpump, like Yeastie Boy’s Digital IPA.
– location – close to most public transport, the Cloud also had the advantage that when you’d finished with the festival, you could cruise into town to relax over a more leisurely pint at O’Carrolls.

The not-so-good:
– the lack of signage – this was a problem throughout the festival, from the beginning, when it wasn’t clear which door you should enter with which ticket, to the stands, where it was difficult to see which beers were available and what ABV they were.
– lack of info – this is a really geeky comment, but it would’ve been nice if a full list of beers was available beforehand, or at the venue, so that it was possible to plan what to drink a little better. Also, just general information about the venue itself and what was available where.

But these are all minor niggles, nothing that distracted from the fact it was a lovely, relaxed day out. My only serious complaint was the lack of water – at the door they were taking water off people and once inside, it was in fairly short supply. Or maybe I missed it?

I’m no longer dreading the return of the New Zealand Beer Festival, in fact I’m thoroughly looking forward to next year. From what what I heard following the festival, I’m sure I’m not alone in this opinion. But while we wait – why not partake in The Auckland Hop?

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