Queenstown beer fest is back

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Organisers of a new Queenstown craft beer festival hope to get thousands of people’s taste buds hopping.

Queenstowner Simon Green and Doug Kamo of Dunedin, who together own Main Event Ltd, are running the Heartland Beer Festival on February 8 around the Remarkables Park Red Barn at Frankton.

The pair plan to have 30-40 craft beer exhibitors from around New Zealand offering 150-plus beers along with some ciders.

Green and Kamo also hope to attract about 20 local food vendors.

The festival – which includes master brewer seminars and possibly a Top of the Hops home brew competition – will conclude with a three-hour concert featuring well-known NZ music acts dDub and Greg Johnson and Rhythmonyx from Invercargill.

Green says the NZ craft beer industry has taken off in recent years: “We’ve kind of led the charge internationally.”

Craft beer festivals in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch have been attracting 8000-plus.

“We’re aiming for 3000 to 4000 in our first year.”

Former Winter Festival director Green says beer fests formerly held during that event were hugely popular. 

“We’re putting something back into the event calendar for those people, but the demographic we’ve seen at craft beer festivals has been more in line with what we’ve seen at food and wine-style festivals.” 

Like wine festivals, people will have the option of buying 100mls tasting-size glasses as well as full pours.

“We want people to get around and sample as many different beers as they can because you can’t buy those beers in Queenstown for the most part,” Green says.

“Some of them are absolutely spectacular – like coffee- and chocolate-flavoured beers.” 

Green says February 8 was chosen as it’s the only event-free weekend in Queenstown between January and March.

Kamo says most craft beer festivals are held indoors so he believes this venue, below the stunning Remarkables mountain range, will be a good seller.

There’ll also be a family focus, including a kids’ zone.

“People will be able to bring a blanket and sunshade and make themselves at home,” Green adds.

Tickets for the festival are $34 and will be going on sale from November 1.