The Great Southern Charm

Now into its fourth year, the Dunedin Craft Beer & Food Festival is a unique and vibrant culmination of local heroes, kiwi brewing and culinary heritage in Dunedin and beyond.

Having a reckless enthusiasm for beer was an ideal starting point for the events team of the Otago University Students’ Association. After a fair bit of research and some resoundingly deep philosophical conversations (along the lines of ‘I love beer…you love events’) the festival was born to completely smitten parents. Its evolution has been one of delicious discovery and this year they are expanding to a week laden with celebrations, highlighting the freshest and finest in the region.

Through its infancy, responses were convincingly heart-warming. Maybe this bonnie wee thing had more than just a face only a mother could love? It was identified early on that it was important to build on the foundation of craft beer and fine food appreciation, whilst also expanding the entertainment and experience elements of the festival. The last two years in particular have seen food become an equal counterpart to the beer, and the craft beer element broadening further to encompass craft beverages as a whole.

There is an outstanding cider selection and with the central Otago vineyards on the back doorstep, wine has also been welcomed into the family. There’s more than enough top quality food and drink to choke a goat. Positioned amongst its peers as the jack of all trades, the festival doesn’t stop at great food and glasses of glorious brown fizz. All that goodness is complimented with classic kiwi music, seminars, games, fun, laughter, a full programme for actual kids as well as the big ones, and plenty of banter. The homebrew competition is back for those brew enthusiasts yet to make their mark outside of the confines of the basement, and the undercover setting of Forsyth Barr Stadium will be optimised even further for the ultimate friends-family-fiends day out. The number of national vendors attending will be the festivals highest yet with 70+ from across NZ, the place will be humming.

In a somewhat serendipitous union, New Zealand’s finest musicians Fly My Pretties will be headlining the festival, complemented by some incredible local acoustic talent. Bellies and ears will be singing some stunning harmonies come November 12. Fly My Pretties are the ultimate Kiwi ensemble, and the festival shares their ethos of ‘mixing established and well-known with undiscovered and up-and-coming talent’. There couldn’t be a better musical match for this kids fourth birthday party.

So it’s mastered the walking and running, even the odd backflip, but there is always room for refinement. This year the festival is drafting in extended family members to showcase our national bounty in the week preceding. Dunedin has a flourishing local brewery and restaurant scene, reflecting our compact yet diverse population. The Dunedin Craft Beer & Food Week sees our local legends providing everything from tap takeovers to food and beer match-ups, competitions, networking opportunities and brewery tours.

The festival is evolving, with the focus moving towards creating connections – engaging with friends and family, of sharing stories through food and drink, and feeding our basic fundamental human needs to feel happy and alive. Southern hospitality has also been declared a national treasure, something to swill around and savour. It’s often said that people never learn from being told, they have to experience it, so what are you waiting for?

Head south friends, and we’ll see you in Dunedin on November 12.

Back to The Pursuit of Hoppiness: Spring 2016


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