United States craft beer distributors, retailers and media got a taste of Wellington’s finest brews and food at an exclusive trade event in Oregon recently.
Panhead, Tuatara, Yeastie Boys, Garage Project and Parrot Dog are the featured international brewers at this year’s Oregon Brewers Festival which runs from July 22-26.
Grow Wellington, one of the agencies in the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency, hosted the New Zealand Craft Connection event to help the brewers develop US trade connections and showcase their wares.
Each brewer introduced their company and presented one of their beers with a matched dish created by Sheperd Elliott, chef at award-winning Wellington restaurant Ti Kouka.
"It’s great to be showcasing our beer in Portland, which we consider to be setting the standard for craft beer worldwide," said Stu McKinlay of Yeastie Boys.
Clyde Burney, Vice President of Beer and Trade Development at Southern Wines and Spirits said New Zealand brewers made beers as good as anywhere in the world.
“The floral notes and characteristics of hops make the beers stand out, and their passion is second to none. The challenge is to show the world how good they really are.”
Festival Director Art Larrance said there had been a lot of interest in the New Zealand contingent, who will feature in daily meet-the-brewer sessions and be honoured guests in the opening parade through Portland. Over 85,000 beer lovers attend the festival each year.
Five Oregon brewers attended the Beervana festival in Wellington last year as part of a long-term cultural exchange established by Mr Larrance and David Cryer, then director of the Beervana Festival.
Grow Wellington General Manager for Business Growth Angela Brownie said craft beer brewing in the Wellington region has exploded in the last five years and was showing no sign of slowing down.
In 2010 there were five craft breweries, turning out about $3M in GDP. By 2013 there were 12 breweries in business, and GDP increased to $12.3M. In 2014 this output jumped to $22.3M, an increase of more than 80% in that single year.
Craft beer brewing accounted for 40% of total growth in Wellington’s food and beverage sector over the last four years.
“Participating in the festival and associated events provides our brewers with great opportunities to explore export potential in the US market. It’s also a good opportunity to promote New Zealand and Wellington as a destination for craft beer aficionados to visit,” said Ms Brownie.