Beervana manager Beth Brash says planning the next Beervana means starting from scratch.
“We’re not ruling anything out – we are really going blue sky, talking to the brewers and seeing what they want out of it.”
“The only way for Beervana to work is if we’ve got industry buy-in. Yes it’s a consumer event, but consumers want to see the brewers there.”
Beervana 2016 could be at a new venue, and might not be held in August to coincide with Wellington On A Plate food events.
There has even been talk of taking it on the road, with Beervana-branded events in other centres.
Beth say’s the change in ownership is more significant than most visitors realise. “(New owner) Wellington Culinary Events Trust is non-profit, so the more successful Beervana is, the more we can give back to the industry.”
That could include bigger events, more events, and scholarships for young brewers, Beth says.
The Westpac Stadium venue has attracted a lot of criticism, as a long, windswept concrete tunnel. Much of this is fair – as a concourse, it isn’t really a venue in its own right, just a corridor leading to one. But confirming an alternative means finding something large, sheltered, near the CBD, with no ties to brewers or caterers, and unbooked. Suggestions/offers welcome.
Changes made this year were small but significant, Beth believes. Visitors and exhibitors both commented on a more relaxed environment. More heaters and tables meant visitors could sit down and enjoy their food and beer, which meant shorter queues and less congestion.
Exhibitors received a rebate on the money customers spent at their stand, reducing the cost of attending. This was new this year, and Beth says the rebates were paid within two days.
Beth wants to increase Beervana’s relevance to brewers from outside Wellington. “I know a lot of people think it’s all Wellington breweries, but there was a huge contingent from Auckland this year. In the current format it can be hard for smaller out-of-town brewers. So in the next few months we’ll be meeting with brewers to ask, 'How can we make it work for you?’ We want to incentivise exhibitors to be there. We’ve already had a handful of brewers (who didn’t exhibit this year) come to us and say, 'We’re back in next year’.
“We have a really exciting opportunity to widen the craft beer-loving world through our networks. We’re making more customers and making people more excited about craft beer. That’s how I see our role.”