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When It’s Autumn Down Under

Submitted by on March 21, 2013 – 8:03 amNo Comment

newzealand_nelson_marchfestRoad Trips Foodies do remember that, in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern.

The good news is that beer lovers who wish that Oktoberfest happened twice a year are reminded that, well, it does. Yes, just as we’re transitioning to spring, the folks in New Zealand are leaving summer and heading into fall.

One of the celebrations Down Under takes place beginning at noon April 6, 2013. The sixth annual MarchFest (a hop harvest festival) takes place in Founders Heritage Park, Nelson, New Zealand (map).

Nelson (New Zealand’s craft beer capital) boasts more craft breweries per head than anywhere else in the country, with 16.6% of New Zealand’s breweries serving just 2.25% of the country’s population.

The Nelson region also happens to be New Zealand’s sole hop growing area (largely pesticide-free) – and it exports world class hops globally (the United States included) as well as supplying local breweries.

Highlighting the South Island’s craft beers, regional cuisine and eclectic music, this event claims to be the only beer festival in the Southern Hemisphere to commission a variety of beers specifically for the event by regional craft brewers. This year, a record 15 regional craft breweries are creating new pint blends for the occasion.

Among the specialty brews created for MarchFest include:
*Sprig & Fern’s ‘Oceania Ale’
*Totara’s ‘Gold Rush’ lager
*‘Mint Lager’ from Lighthouse
*Mussel Inn’s porter ‘Love Mussel’
*Golden Bear’s ‘Crowd Pleaser’ lager
*Dales Brewing Co.’s ‘Extra Special Bitter’ ale
*8Wired’s ‘Rastafari Stout’

In addition to hops of all kinds, event attendees will enjoy local cuisine from various vendors selling everything from fresh Nelson scallops to locally reared venison, berry-based juices and real-fruit ice cream.

A beer and food matching gourmet lunch kicks off the afternoon. The event also features local, national and international music guests that include Kiwi super group The Bellbirds (featuring New Zealand’s greatest living song writers Don McGlashen and Sean Donnelly), Newtown Rocksteady, Mara and the Bushkas, Hobnail Trio and The Immigrants.

Tickets are priced at $39.

For over 150 years, hops have been grown spray-free in the valleys of the Nelson region at 41° South. New Zealand hops are used in some U.S. beers, such as Sierra Nevada’s Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale.

(Photo courtesy of MarchFest)

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