|Gathering on the Westpac Stadium concourse|
We exchanged our hard-earned cash for beer tokens - I like this concept. The tokens looked like play money we had as kids and indeed, we had fun with them as adults. Our wrist-bands confirmed that we were 'licensed to drink responsibly' and so we did. The glasses held 200ml and the tastings were approx half a glass so there was enough to gauge the flavour without getting smashed. Although you could have full glasses if you wished, I stuck to the tasting size all night so I could sample as many as possible.
The atmosphere in the concourse of the stadium isn't exactly convivial and doesn't lend itself to a relaxed evening of drinking and talking. Many people were wandering about looking for somewhere to sit and the lack of cloakroom facilities was annoying - it's very hard to take notes (let alone photographs) while standing up and clutching a bag and coat.
|Stu Yeastie proudly displaying his wares|
The beers were divided by region, so one bar sold 'The North' while others were 'Central', 'Top of the South', 'Canterbury', or 'Southern'. The Australians were out in force and Wellington had its own bar selling Bennett's, Garage Project (although none was on at the session I attended), Tuatara, and Yeastie Boys, amongst others. There were 'style bars' such as a real ale bar, a cider bar, and one for festive brews - the theme of this year was 'let's go... Black', which apparently "pays homage to a certain sporting event taking over New Zealand this year."
|The Southern boys and girls look thrilled to be here|
|Him Outdoors appears to be enjoying something|
Minimus (Hallertau, 3.7%) - a breakfast pale ale, apparently, and why not? I've heard of people putting champagne on their cornflakes; why not a dry, bitter, hoppy drop to kickstart you with your porridge? Okay, time to move on from the Goldilocks theme...
Manuka Magic (Naturale, 4.6%) - I thought I would try something different (the tasting notes proclaimed this was 'unique, adventurous, delicious'). I noted that it was floral and inoffensive. Unfortunately, while trying to juggle my coat, notebook and wallet, I spilt half of it all over the floor (hence the earlier gripe), but didn't like it enough at first sip to need to return for more.
|Some of the random commentators. And I mean random.|
|Some bloke who isn't Fabio Capello|