1. There are not just New Zealand and Dutch beers in the International Beer Garden some of the actual brewers here.
2. I heard good reviews of the beers early on in the festival from fellow beer geeks that I trust.
3. Hold onto your shorts for this one...the beers were only one token each. That's right, none of the two and three token business like back when it was the Buzz Tent.
During the first two days of the festival I tried eight beers (out of a total of 15 that will be poured during the run of the festival), with only one being a disappointment. That percentage is on par with my general festival ratio. And don't forget, these beers have traveled quite a distance, probably enduring less careful handling than those kegs that only had to travel a few miles to get to the festival.
Beyond the beer itself I attended the "Meet the Kiwis" last night at Belmont Station where five New Zealand brewers were on hand to talk about their breweries plus one of the most influential people in the malt business in New Zealand, David Cryer of Cryermalt, and one of the key figures in this cultural exchange, Doug Donelan of New Zealand Hops and the Brewers Guild of New Zealand. Putting a face and a story to the beer in my hand has always been one of the things I enjoy most about craft beer. Listening to them talk, with great enthusiasm about their craft, proves that craft brewers are craft brewers the world over.
This experience was particularly interesting due to the non-US perspective. I'll go into more detail in the next post about the five breweries - Tuatara, Garage Project, ParrotDog, Panhead Custom Ales and Yeastie Boys - but for now, just know that during your time at OBF, you definitely need to stop in at the International Tent.
In the meantime, take a gander as Stu McKinlay of Yeastie Boys talks about his decision to become a brewer.