9 March 2019, Duart House, Havelock North by Ian Thomas
Banish thoughts of buxom wenches carrying implausibly large numbers of steins to tables full of rowdy revelers. Many of the attendees of B.A.D. certainly made the pilgrimage to Munich in their more youthful years. Judging by the salt and pepper shades in the beards of these hopsters it’s been at least fifteen years since the big OE during which wallets, clothes, passports, and friends were mislaid at the Bavarian rite of passage. Back in the day they probably didn’t know one IPA from a double IPA, but leap forward to here and now and these guys and girls certainly know what they’re drinking and by the end of the day they’ve found a surprise tipple to like.
There’s plenty of choice from the 20 or so stalls; over 50 beers or ciders to sample. Beer Appreciation Day is exactly what it claims to be. Appreciation does, however, extend to cider, good food, and good music, and a beautiful garden setting. There are families, including toddlers, and couples, and groups of friends. In its ninth iteration, B.A.D. has grown but retained its happy, relaxed, friendly vibe. It’s a real credit to the vision and foresight of the organisers who have nurtured the steady growth and blossoming of an event that is now well-bedded into the Hawke’s Bay calendar. Tickets sell out weeks before the day.
There’s an unhurried feeling to the afternoon. A generous amount of time and space is provided, not only at the beer tents, where brewers share their wares and their knowledge, but also on blankets or chairs in the shade or the sun. Almost like a private garden party. Music is alternately from spinning vinyl and a live band, between them creating a perfect soundtrack to a few cold beers on a sunny Hawke’s Bay afternoon. Local brews are prominent amongst the well-curated line up. Breweries from around the North Island bring complimentary styles to swell the offering. Beer Appreciation Day is the antidote to boozy beer festivals but it’s certainly not a haven for corduroy-trousered beer snobs.
It is a delicious mixture of good beer, food, music, conversation, humour, company, and friendship in a beautiful garden. Like all good events the overall experience is palpably greater than the sum of the parts. Cheers!