The Wanaka Beer Fest, set for the first weekend in December, is a real showcase for local beer and bites.

The beer fest is always a great day out – organisers James Julian and James Hay do a great job at providing a fun and relaxed atmosphere with great entertainment and plenty to do. Hay is a builder turned brewer and owner of b.effect Brewing Co. and Restaurant and Bar in Wanaka. Julian is a lover of beer and good festivals and says that the main aim was to create a festival focusing on local vendors with no queues and plenty of toilets.

“We usually would have around 40 per cent of people coming from outside of the region,” Julian says. “It’s good for those people to experience some of these breweries that they probably don’t get a chance to a lot of the time if they’re from the North Island or even Christchurch and Dunedin — they probably don’t get them that often.”

This year’s local breweries include b.effect, Rhyme X Reason, Ground Up, Wanaka Beer Works, Canyon Food & Brew Co, Altitude Brewing, Otago Brew School and Crimson Badger. From further afield there’ll be a strong South Island focus with House of Hop in Geraldine, Christchurch’s Two Thumb Brewing, Brew Moon from North Canterbury and Burkes Brewing from Tekapo. There’s also the addition of the Wellington Beer Stand, which will offer a range of some of the best beers the windy city has to offer. And Wellington’s Heyday will be pouring via Crimson Badger.

Wanaka beer fest

“The breweries are pretty local — and with food we try to keep it as local as possible, so we’ll always get local food trucks and local entertainment as much as we can.” Julian says. “We try to at least keep the ball in the South Island, if not within the Queenstown and Wanaka area, because we wanted to give them a bit of a stage.”

Harvey Hill, head brewer at Crimson Badger, is excited to return to Wanaka Beer Fest and is amping up for a great day. He loves to mingle with other local breweries and see what’s on offer, describing it as an awesome opportunity to showcase his products to such a large number of locals and visitors alike.

“It’s got some great breweries in attendance from across the country, and then all the best local talent showing up and showing off,” Harvey says. “It always draws in a great crowd of locals who are there for a good time and want to try some interesting products and have a wonderful day out. Last year everyone was really enjoying the laser clay pigeon shooting, and getting into the music and food. It’s just a grand day out full of fantastic vibes. We’ve been attending the fest for several years now and it’s one of our favourites to go to.”

Wanaka beer fest

In addition to local DJs and bands all day to keep people entertained, there’ll be a comedy tent, disc golf and laser rifles. The festival is put together for the love of it and aims to promote the area, promote local artists, food and drinks, and allow people to do something a little different.

“The whole point of Wanaka Beer Fest is to get together and chat, have a bit of craic, and that’s really the idea. It’s a non-commercial, independent, locally-focused, relaxed and enjoyable day that very few people will dislike,” Julian says.

Wanaka Beer Fest will go ahead on Saturday, December 2, at Wanaka A&P Showgrounds. For more information on the day and to grab tickets, head to