Queenstown’s mountains are bare this winter
Only one local ski field was open for last week’s launch of the annual Winter Festival, and it was marginal. Better to stay inside and try a few IPAs.
Queenstown’s Smith’s Craft Beer House is putting the adventure capital onto the craft beer events calendar. This year it’s organising and hosting the first Queenstown NZIPA Challenge, encouraging brewers to make a new beer in one of our most popular styles. The event runs all week at Smith’s and at Arrowtown’s Fork & Tap.
“This was an opportunity to showcase New Zealand product,” Smith’s owner Pascal Fillion says. “I didn’t tell brewers to make big ABV beers but they came back to me asking, ‘Can I do a Double IPA?’, ‘Can I do a Triple?’, ‘Can I do a Black IPA?’ So long as you send an IPA, whatever!”
“I originally asked 23, 24 brewers and a couple were too busy. Panhead was going to be in but something happened. So to have 20 come in was awesome.”
And the response was a broad as it was strong. Auckland’s Behemoth came back with a feijoa IPA, with distinct feijoa flavours, for better or worse. Wanaka’s Ground Up made a salted lime IPA. Three Boys and Altitude collaborated on a brute of thing that’s quite unlike anything else in either brewer’s range. Small brewers like B-Effect, Horsebox and Lord Almighty pit themselves against veterans like Tuatara, 8-Wired, Moa and Epic. ParrotDog launched a new range at the event.
Getting such a strong response is impressive when you consider the QNZIPAC asked brewers to develop a unique brew, then fit it into their schedules in between the more established GABS and Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge events.
“To get the support we have, when the beers are all one-offs, is fantastic. I guess it’s just the chance to come to Queenstown and get drunk!” For whatever reason, there’s meet-the-brewer events each night this week, and a group of competing brewers will be there on Friday night for the awards. Friday is judgement night, with a panel headed by international judge Geoff Griggs. You can have your say too through the poll on Smith’s Facebook page – be honest, and don’t vote for a beer you haven’t tried.
The winners (judged and popular) each win a custom-painted snowboard “They’ll work, so they can go and use them on the mountain for a year,” Pascal says. “So long as they bring them back next year.” They’ll just need to find some snow first.