Archive for April, 2010

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MARCHFeST 2010

April 20, 2010

[UPDATED]

Well, this blog is almost a year old so it’s time to end four months of no blogging due to laziness and get things going again.

Saturday was Marchfest here in Nelson and you’ll probably have guessed by now that it’s not actually in March anymore. Aprilfest just doesn’t have the same ring to it does it? I imagine this is better timing for the brewers to prepare their harvest beers but means a bit less sunlight for the punters.

Let me state first up that I had a great time at the festival but I was a little disappointed in comparison to last years event. The addition of brewers talks and cider and beer making demonstrations this year was great, even though I ended up missing them all due to beer drinking commitments. This year the main venue was in the large field at Founder’s Park rather than in the ‘Energy Centre’ and surrounds, which didn’t seem to work at well though the view of the Park and wider region was great. This centered around a giant tent with the music at times crowding out conversation even outside. Last year you could sit inside the energy centre where the beer was being served and get down to the serious matter of beer drinking without the distraction of music! The queues were massive at times and dominated the inside of the tent and the free movement of punters. Perhaps a separate area to buy drink tokens or separate lines for each beer would help? There was some good outside lawn with picnic seats but access to these was restricted by the railway, food carts or the tent. It’s the small things and maybe I’m getting too fussy about service but these issues are easily solved and you expect a certain level of service for your entry fee.

This was the other problem with 2010 – the ticket price has increased; it didn’t include a first drink + the half pint serving size increased from $5 to $6. Inflation rises are inevitable at some stage and obviously keeping the beer prices in whole dollars is easier to deal with, but when you take the full increases over the night into account that is about $20 extra compared to 2009 for what didn’t feel like any extra value – far more than inflation. I imagine the huge tent and Don McGlashan bulked up the costs this year and as you can probably tell by now, I’m happy to keep things basic – I’m there for the beer after all.

Anyway on to important things – the beers, which featured 10 new brews from Top of the South craft brewers.

Sprig and Fern: De-Vine Inspiration: A kiwi pilsner with Riwaka hops. Stangely enough it tasted just like Emerson’s Pislner! Love that buttery NZ pils taste.

Moa: Blanc Resurrection: A Belgian Wit. This was quite unusual and complex. Clear with a nice wheat background + hops. Some phenolic funk character.

Townshend: Roger Parks IPA: Nicely sweet and intense – malt driven but balanced with some nice hops. One of my favourites of the night.

Totara: Ninkasi Green: Green hopped, amber / IPA-ish. Nice enough but finished far too short on both the malt and hops.

The Mussel Inn: Missing Linx: Marzenbier? Definitely an NZ interpretation. Complex with some nice smoked malt and Manukasimilar to a lighter Captain Cooker at the end of the day.

Lighthouse: April Fuel: Nice enough amber ale. That’s about all I scribbled.

Founder’s: God Knows Best Bitter: Pretty similar to Mac’s Sassy Red – a bit less sweet and smokyer. Nice.

Renaissance: Funkelryesen: Spiced Rye beer. Unusual and complex – lots of floral liquorice notes. Big points for using Southern Cross hops and mentioning these in the tasting notes!

Golden Bear: Liquifaction: Golden Bear seem to excel at strong beers and this was the business. Stunningly rich and smooth with NZ hops plus some Styrian Goldings coming through with a British punch at the end.

Monkey Wizard: Golgotha Porter: Sweetish Porter, not much complexity in the malt but it does take a rather good dark beer to impress me.

A final whinge before I go – if you’re a food stand at a beer fest serving curry, make sure you have enough rice cooked for the night and if you serving German small goods, have all your products grilled and ready to go!

Update – Marchfest organiser Mic Dover responds:

FYI the Marchfest ticket price has been $25 in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and no Marchfests have ever featured a free 1st drink. You are getting confused with Nelson Beer Fetes which are small events with low overheads.

A small minority of people constantly make this mistake so we are looking at how we market the events differently in future to avoid the confusion.

BTW The increase from $5 to $6 per drink is the first price rise in 3 years.
Cheers, Mic

My reply: Thanks for your response Mic – my recollection is that the early bird price was $15 in 2009 and $20 in 2010. After purchasing my early bird ticket last year I won an entry pack – this included a free drink ticket. I thought this was part of the general entry as the drink tickets were in the glasses at the door but perhaps these were just for prize winners / VIP’s etc. As I said, it’s inevitable that beer prices rise and I’m sure that the decision wasn’t made lightly – I was probably just expecting that the prices would remain the same as those at pubs considering the rate at which you’d turn over a keg but then I don’t know much about the economics of running a beer festival. I hope my comments don’t take away from what is essentially, an excellent beer event.

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