Wanaka beer scene on show

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A beer festival being held in Wanaka for the first time on Saturday could become an annual event, organisers say.

Local man, builder and brewer James Hay has teamed up with three other men, Ben Clark, James Julian and Joel Le Breton to host the event, which will be held in Post Office Lane from 11.30am to 5.30pm.

All 200 tickets for the event, which will feature about 30 different products from five Wanaka brewers – B. Effect, Ground Up, Maverick, Wanaka Beer Works and Sidewinder – had sold out by Tuesday.

“The craft beer industry has grown into a good little scene in Wanaka and we are looking forward to showing people what we have to offer.

“We’re maybe not world pioneers but it is an industry that is definitely growing organically here,” Mr Hay said.

Mr Clark said breweries in the Queenstown Lakes area were at present producing some of the most interesting new beers in New Zealand.

“The festival is designed to celebrate that and to hopefully bring them to a wider audience,” he said.

Mr Hay said brewing craft beer was a hobby that began in his Tenby St garage when he started a “pilot set up” to create recipes for his company, B. Effect.

His products were now brewed under contract in Christchurch, with about 30,000 litres produced each year.

“It’s a hobby that got out of control,” he said.

Mr Le Breton said the festival would encourage people to branch out, try different styles and flavours.

‘It is about showing off what Wanaka has to offer and showcasing local talent,” he said.

Mr Clark said the event also presented an opportunity to change “the New Zealand mentality around drinking beer”.

“It could help encourage a cultural paradigm shift in drinking habits,” he said.