Northland’s first dedicated craft beer festival is about to put the fizz back into a region feeling flat from a long, wet winter.
The inaugural Brew of Islands Festival will feature beers from four Northland microbreweries and five of the nation’s top independent brewers, as well as cocktails, kai and live music.
The event, at Kerikeri’s Turner Centre today and tomorrow, is the brainchild of centre manager Gerry Paul and Pioneer Tavern publican Tyler Bamber.
Bamber said it would not be a hotdog-and-fries-type event – he had searched Northland for the best food to accompany 53 different boundary-pushing craft beers and give festival-goers a mid-winter boost.
The festival’s 2000 tickets were expected to sell out. By Thursday only a handful of tickets remained for the two Saturday sessions, he said.
“Interest has been fantastic right from the get-go. It just proves there’s a demand for events in the middle of the year. There’s not much on at this time but we have provided.”
Local breweries taking part were Kainui Brew Co (Kerikeri), Phat House (Haruru), Bay of Islands Brewing (also Haruru) and McLeod’s (Waipū).
They would be joined by craft beer heavyweights Parrotdog, Garage Project, Urbanaut and Cassels, plus Matakana’s 8 Wired.
Kaitāia reggae/rock group Norizon, who perform in te reo and English, would supply the festival soundtrack alongside the maritime-themed tunes of the Wellington Sea Shanty Society and the award-winning Americana-Kiwi folk blend of T-Bone.
Bamber and Paul hatched the plan over a few after-work beers at Bamber’s pub in Waipapa, just outside Kerikeri.
“Brew of Islands is a chance to celebrate something everyone loves – beer – and use it to help showcase some of Northland’s other great qualities,” he said.
Paul has previously been the entertainment manager for Beervana, dubbed the AGM of New Zealand’s craft beer community, and directed the country’s biggest street festival, Wellington’s CubaDupa.