Lime is the flavour note for Marchfest – the annual Nelson festival held during hop harvest.

The festival, under new ownership this year, will be held at the historic Founders Park on Saturday, March 20 and is one of those events you have to put on your bucket list.

As well as amazing beer from a range of local breweries – and few select visitors – there’s also a stunning line-up of some of New Zealand’s best bands, including The Eastern and rising stars Racing, whose psychedelic, swirling  pop is the perfect musical match for a hazy IPA or two.

With breweries bringing a one-off festival beer it’s a great chance for experimentation and for fans to taste something for the first (and perhaps only) time.

Abandoned Brewery, undoubted stars from last year’s Beervana festival, are up their mischievous best with a kaffir lime kettle sour, described as having spicy Asian citrus notes mingling with tangy sourness.

Lime is integral to the offering from Wanaka’s Rhyme X Reason who will bring what they call New Zealand-first lemon, lime and bitters beer, called Thirst Quencher. This is a non-hopped kolsch with bitterness derived from conditioning the beer on bitters, citrus lemon and lime for “thirst-quenching and refreshing beer.”

Born-again brewery Funk Estate will be come across from their new Blenheim home – within the Renaissance brewery – and despite new ownership the Funk vibe is there with a Mojito Braggot, brewed in collaboration Beehave Meadery. This uses honey during the fermenting process and is infused with refreshing lime and mint.

And if that’s not enough, locals Hop Federation will dip into their own backyard, so to speak, with a fresh hop Taiheke IPA made from locally grown hops. Taiheke’s flavour profile? Grapefruit and lime!

Shining Peak from Taranaki will be arriving with their aptly named Meades Steamer Hazy IPA – a beer named in honour of James Meades, the captain of the S.S. Wanaka who ran aground on Puketapu Reef in foggy (hazy?) weather just off the coast north of New Plymouth.

But it’s not all sweet citrus and fruit.

From over the hill in Golden Bay, Mussel Inn will bring a herb and spice beer made with Kumarahou – a traditional Maori healing herb which was used as a hop substitute in the 1800s.

Nelson brewery The Workshop are going full on with a mixed berries and cream Milkshake IPA while Motueka heroes Townshend will bring Club Tropicana – described as fruit salad in a pint glass.

And for an exception to all the fruit and citrus, North End will stay close to their classic roots with Rum oaked brown porter.

If beer is not your thing, Marchfest offers a superb range of ciders from multi-award-winning locals Peckham’s, and locally made wines from Blackenbrook Vineyards.

Event owner Shelley Haring said the one-time offerings were Marchfest’s main point of difference, and many brewers were left with very little in their kegs by the end of the day.

The Marchfest soundtrack will come courtesy of five live acts, including Auckland’s Racing, who were named best rock artist at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. They feature ex-members of The Checks – Ed Knowles and Sven Petterson – and their psychedelic sound is captured by the hit singles Motel Pool and Run Wild.

UK-born artist Tim Allen will be joined by Ben King of Goldenhorse, while The Eastern will make their fourth appearance at the festival, delivering their distinct “Lyttelton sound”.

“The reason we get them back each year is because the crowd loves them,” Haring said.

Nelson-based Rocket Zombie are covers band with a punk-rock with a difference, performing high-octane versions of hits by Elton John, Neil Diamond, The Beatles, ABBA and others.

Nelson hip-hop act Hoody Time will close out the evening’s entertainment.

Current early bird tickets are on sale for $42 until February 21 before increasing to $47 up until the day of the event.

Gate sales will be available on the day, unless sold out prior. As always, the festival is very family-friendly.

Tickets and more event information can be found at www.marchfest.com.

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