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Bottoms Up to beerfest

No stockcars were on the Gisborne Speedway Club track on Saturday but there were plenty of punters in action at the third instalment of the Gisborne Beer Festival.

Organiser Ricky Boyd said the event was a success, with 836 enthusiastic taste testers walking through the Eastland Group Raceway gates on Saturday for this year’s edition.

“I didn’t get round all the breweries to test everything . . . so I’m looking forward to them hopefully sending me some beers later so I can catch up with what I missed.”

Punters The Herald spoke with all enjoyed sampling new beers.

“It’s a bloody great day,” said first-time beer festivalgoer Caleb Banks. “The beers and venue is wild, with high-percentage beers and heaps of different brews, it’s a good time.”

Mr Boyd is keen to expand the musical acts and activities next year.

“I think the lesson we learned from this year was we need to add more cool things.

“The silent disco worked a treat but we need to make it bigger and better — maybe get in some out-of-town DJs, really push the envelope.”

Brewers acknowledged Gisborne was a long way away to travel to with hundreds of litres of beer, but luckily for local beer lovers, it seems brewers tend to be mad about surfing.

Double Vision co-director Warren Drahota said they stacked the van with boards for the trip and reserved about 10 percent of their time for surfing.

“It’s not the biggest festival but it’s wholesome to come up and feel like you’re breaking new ground and developing and building a market.

“We come because the community is so receptive to craft beer, new beers and different things going on.

“We’ve got mates up here and Ricky has been so awesome, it’s pretty cool to feel so welcome and at home here.”

Another keen surfer-brewer was Urbanaut co-founder Thomas Rowe.

“It’s definitely my first beer festival in a speedway . . . it’s cool and works well.

“There’s plenty of space for people to find their little zones. I’m loving it.”

Mr Rowe said the craft beer movement continued to grow.

“All the brewers we talk to are seeing their sales grow as more people discover the joys of flavoursome beers.”

Added attraction to such festivals are speciality beers not found in public bars.

“We always try to bring something interesting to festivals like our strawberry hazy IPA,” said Mr Rowe, “and the one we’ve just released is our ginger-beer spiced ale.”

Never one to sit still, Mr Boyd said he went to bed the night of the festival thinking of the next beer event.

“I think we’ll probably do something in November, just a small thing, maybe at a bowls club.

“You know — beers, bowls and bands.”

FUN IN THE SUN: Kieran Nicoll, Amy Clare, Tiffany Zyp, Andre van Haandel and Tavis Wells enjoying a few cold ones in the hot sun.
CHEERS: Christopher Williams, Quinn Michele and Mitchell Zwaagdijk sample some of New Zealand’s finest craft beers.
ON TAP: Bassline Brewing’s brewer Abe Guyer came all the way from Wellington to introduce locals to new flavours. All pictures by Paul Rickard