Archive for the ‘Beer Events’ Category

Greater Wellington Brewday

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Every time I write about a beer festival I want to say it is the best one ever. Beervana, Pacific Beer Expo, X-Ale, the SOBA Winter Ales Fest: they are all immensely enjoyable, each with their own strengths and characters. Greater Wellington Brewday is no different. Sure it may have taken me twelve months to write about it but it is still fondly remembered, and by writing about it now you have time to get a ticket for this year’s festival in Martinborough on this coming Saturday, February 28th.

The formula for a great festival is simple: good beer, good food, and a pleasant environment, all of which attract good people, the most essential ingredient to any successful day out.

For Brewday, the good beer is all about Wellington. Wellington has long been the craft beer consumption capital but for many years there was a dearth of breweries. Five years ago there was only Tuatara and Peak with breweries anywhere near the capital (plus half of the Yeastie Boys were based here). Then four years ago, breweries started popping up every week. This inspired some genius to conceive of a festival to showcase the great beers from the Greater Wellington region and Brewday was born.

Somehow I missed the first two Brewdays but having heard so many good reports I finally made it along last year. I thought I had been keeping up well with the local scene but there were many new breweries there I had not come across before, or had only tried a beer or two. Tiamana, Wild & Wooly, 9 Barnyard Owls, Choice Brothers, Webb Street Brewery, Hop Hustlers. Most didn’t have breweries. Instead they were using the Occasional Brewer or sophisticated home brew setups to test the waters. Some had plans for breweries. Tiamana and Wild & Woolly now share a brewery in Mt Cook (the suburb in Wellington, not the altitudinous southern alp) and Choice Bros’ brew-pub plans are progressing while using Te Aro Brewing’s brewery for now (yet another new brewery).

Set in a paddock on the road in to Martinborough, Brewday has a great, relaxed bucolic vibe with the feel of an A&P show. Woodchopping competitions would not feel out of place (indeed as a woodchopping fan, adding wood-chopping demonstrations would be on my list of improvements, along with dog trialling).

Enjoying the Wairarapa sunshine.

The food includes plenty of great local produce. Mmmm, venison burger with beetroot relish. Paella matched with wheat beer.

Panhead Whitewall wheat beer and paella, a perfect match.

Getting to and from Martinborough is part of the adventure, for a Wellingtonian. Some people rent a house and stay the night. You can take the train to Featherstone and then a festival bus to Martinborough. Last year I got on the LBQ bus. This included many beer-lover bonuses, like a cooked breakfast and beer before leaving, a beer or two on the trip over (with a perfectly-timed toilet stop in Featherston), a goodie bag (including a croissant, lollies, and cake), a ticket to Brew Day (of course), more beer on the bus back (with a less-perfectly-timed toilet stop at Melling), then a nightcap at LBQ to top off a perfect day. Great value, both in money ($100!) and company. Sister bar Basque is running the bus this year. Check their Facebook page for availability. I highly recommend it.

If you’re in Kapiti then Tuatara and North End are putting on a bus too. No excuses. Just get there. The beer is great.

* Today’s post bought to you by the letter beer and the word “great”.

The LBQ bus to Greater Wellington Brewday.

ParrotDog Matt.

Hats and t-shirts.

Kieran Haslett-Moore from North End pouring a delicious Baby Grand.

Wild & Woolly Llew Bardecki.

Garage Project.

Martinborough Brewery

Garage Project.

Ciaran from Malthouse.

Garage Project.

Hop Hustlers and mountain bike enthusiasts.

Hop Hustlers.

Another hat.

H2O and rainbows.

Selfie with a brewer and hats. Choice Bros brewer, Kerry Gray, happily poses.

Brother Brayden from 9 Barnyard Owls.

Hats and mo.

Alex and Chris from Kereru.

RIP good guy Paul Wicksteed. Here he was helping out Aidan at the Baylands Brewery stand.

Mr Golding from Golding’s Free Dive.

The subdued bus ride home.

May the fourth be with you

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Today is first of May and that means you all will have been excited to flipp over to a new month on your NZ Craft Beer Calendar and see the Golding’s crew in all their Star Wars-loving glory, right?

An alternative version of the calendar shot.

If you don’t know about the craft beer calendar, I’ll bring you up to speed. Vague thoughts of producing a calendar of my photos has crossed my mind in past years, usually at the time of the year when you are thinking about buying a new calendar, which is always too late to actually produce one. September would be the latest I would consider starting to organise a calendar for the following year, and that would be using photos I already have rather than taking new ones. Last year on October 25th, the night after the first day of the Pacific Beer Expo, I received an email from friend and fellow beer-lover, Megan.

“So, at PBE today, a couple of us had the idea of a craft beer calendar, with the proceeds to go to a charity, probably Sexual Abuse Prevention Network. (They do work with Wgtn bars to identify and limit sexual assault.)

How would you feel about shooting it? We want to get it done so people can buy it for xmas. Thoughts?”

A wild idea for a good cause. I respond, “That’s a great idea. My only concern would be the short timeframe.”

Of course I had underestimated the production skills of Megan and Jess. Wrangling brewers, bar people, and photographers for photos shoots, handling the PledgeMe campaign, rustling sponsors, organising printers, and keeping Golding’s in business all at once is no easy task. I am in awe of their commitment and perseverance.

Originally I was hoping to use some of my existing photos to ease the load of making 12 photos in a month. But then bars and brewers started jumping on board with great crazy ideas. Photographers in other cities offered to help out. English photographer Nicci Peet, who had been travelling around New Zealand photographing women brewers for her Caught on the Hop project, volunteered to help out while she was here in Wellington. This all meant we could have thirteen new photos just for the calendar. People are awesome.

The shoots ranged from the stressful (most of them), the hilarious (again, most of them), heart-breaking (the loss of some beer from a barrel that fell from a fork lift while arranging a pleasant backdrop at Panhead), to the downright terrifying (photographing Taika Waititi, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, and Stuart Rutherford from What We Do in the Shadows at Tuatara). The ideas seemed to grow more and more outlandish as the month went on as people heard what other bars and breweries had done for their. I expect they will be even more outlandish this year (and I hope they’re all making plans already, hint, hint).

May – Golding’s Free Dive

Each month that one of my photos appeared in the calendar I had intended to write a bit about the story behind the shoot. Obviously we are now into the fifth month of the year and I have missed two of my photos, January and February. I’ll tell you about those in my next installment. This month we’ll look at the shoot for May at Golding’s Free Dive.

In one way the shoot was a doddle. Sean Golding, bar owner, manager, and creator of the bar’s whole aesthetic, is also a great art director, drawing on his experience as a minion in Peter Jackson’s movie empire. Sean had pitched me the concept as Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper with a Star Wars theme. Sounded good. When I arrived on the morning of November 25th it seemed even better. Trestle tables were set up, laden with beer, food (Massimo, the owner of Pizza Pomodoro, was taking part and supplying pizza), and beer. Sean had organised costumes for everyone and had printed out several copies of The Last Supper to use as reference. We tweaked the position of the tables to get the Beer is Love mural in the background and get the perspective right (one of the key features of the original painting is that all of the lines of perspective converge on Jesus’ head, drawing your eyes to him). I found the perfect shooting position. The Golding’s crew perfected their gestures and looks. Steve supplied incredible Chewbacca impersonations.

Then little things started going wrong. The light took some tweaking. Curtains and blinds were closed, flash power adjusted. I pushed the ISO a bit too high to compensate for the low light. In some shots the light sabre had turned itself off. The background could have been a bit darker than the foreground so the people would be more defined. Tom wore the storm trooper helmet in some shots, hiding his beautiful face.

This led lot of things being fixed in post. I removed a shadow from Owen’s face by grafting on a nose from another photo. The Millennium Falcon was also transferred from another photo. The most obvious problem were very uneven tablecloths. Somehow I missed this during the shoot but it was immediately obvious once the photos were on my computer screen. Praise be for Photoshop’s content-aware fill. I spent longer working on this photo than all of the other photos I took for the calendar put together, learning a lot about the capabilities of Photoshop along the way. The end result was worth it and I’ve learnt a few lessons. Next year I’ll use the force and get it right in-camera.

Spot the difference:

From this Sunday, Golding’s celebrate Star Wars Week (including May the Fourth). I hear seven beers with a Star Wars theme have been created especially. Get along there. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

Thanks from Golding’s and the NZ Beer Calendar crew, Megan and Jess, to everyone who bought or supported the calendar.


Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Last Saturday the team from Hashigo Zake put on another excellent beer festival. X-Ale, a showcase of extreme beers from NZ and around the world, was attended by a small but excited group of beer-lovers with adventurous palettes. In a field of beers where Liberty Summ!t was considered rather mundane there were plenty of challenging tastes for everyone, from chili beers to smoked beers, sours to mighty strong ales. The finger food was simple and delicious – someone commented that it was like being at a party at someone’s house. Such a great atmosphere and the crew from Hashigo Zake and the three Matts from Parrot Bog brewery were great hosts.

The pick of the festival for me was the Hallertau Funkonnay. Such great balance – the malt, oak, and sourness worked so well together. It’s also a great name: a portmanteau word that perfectly describes the beer, plus a pun all in one.

The Beer Project Exhibition

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

The first ever Beer Project Exhibition opens at 5pm on Monday, March 5th, at cult beer bar Hashigo Zake. Come along, enjoy a beer, and check out photos of some of New Zealand’s brewing legends. I’d love to see you there. If you can’t make it on opening night then the photos will remain up through until closing time on Tuesday, March 13th.

The exhibition is a fundraiser to help cover some of my costs in getting to a photography workshop with Magnum photographer Trent Parke, in Fremantle later in March. See my earlier post for more details. All prints will be for sale.

Many thanks to Dom from Hashigo Zake for coming up with the idea and offering to host the exhibition. Thanks to 8 Wired and Yeastie Boys for supplying beer for the exhibition opening.

Brewers At Work, photos by Jed Soane. March 5th to 13th. Hashigo Zake.

The Rex Attitude

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Extreme beers evoke extreme reactions. Everyone remembers the first time they tried Rodenbach Grand Cru, and anyone who has tried one will have mischievously given one to an uninitiated friend (or enemy, depending on your appreciation of the beer) just to see the look on their face. It was the thought of these looks that had me grabbing my camera and heading along to the launch of Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude at Regional Wines and Spirits last Saturday.

Rex Attitude, Yeastie Boys’ new all-year-’round beer, is an extreme beer. It is brewed with malt that has been smoked over burning peat. This peated malt is what gives Islay whiskies, such as Laphroig and Bowmore, their distinctive smokey, medicinal flavour. When common lore says that a beer brewed with more than 5% peated malt would be undrinkable then it’s not hard to push the limits towards the extreme. But when The Yeastie Boys announced their new beer would be made with 100% peated malt many suspected they had lost their common sense.

It only takes one sip to decide whether this beer is genius or folly. Either way, hopefully someone will be there with a camera.

These are my photos of what I call The Rex Attitude. I’d love to see yours. Post links to your photos in the comments.

Here’s a photo I took of Rex Attitude to help you find it.