While wine rules in Hawke's Bay, craft beer is catching on.

This year's Beer Appreciation Day in Duart House in Hastings showed interest in craft beer was growing as much as the number of new breweries.

"We see a lot of people returning here, year after year – they love it," Beer Appreciation Day organiser Jim Poppelwell said.

"Part of that is obviously the beer, part of that is the event itself because it is a really cruisy good time. It is definitely growing in popularity."

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Beer Appreciation Day was part of the first ever Hawke's Bay Beer Week at Giant Brewing, where half-price beer was up for grabs if your darts score was higher than the brewer's.

Giant's brewer and accomplished darts player Chris Ormond said the thirst for craft beer was growing.

"It was certainly my best summer yet," he said.

"I think more and more people are consuming more and more Hawke's Bay beer and craft beer full stop."

Beer Week finished with GodsOwn Brewery's hop harvest, with outdoor pub patrons experiencing a truly before-and-after experience, as they plucked hops between quaffs, from vines laid on their tables.

Godfrey Quemeneur said Hawke's Bay has a good climate for growing hops.

"We're trying to bring the whole concept of beer farming, where we can utilise the land properly, to better facilitate our production processes," the Maraekakaho brewer said.

"In the short time we've been here, which is a little over nine years now, especially in Hawke's Bay, it has grown quite substantially."

Winemaking skills are transferable to beer, with many winemakers finding their beer popular.

Abbey Cellars brewer Dermot Haworth said brewing was personal at first.

"I was home brewing for a kind of retirement hobby for a couple of years about seven or eight years ago," he said.

"There are a lot of new hops in New Zealand and we were kind of experimenting with the different flavours of the new American/New Zealand hops.

"A hobby/passion turned into a business opportunity with all the cyclists and cruise ships coming by Hawke's Bay in the summers."

Despite 30,000 grape vines surrounding the brewery, beer is now 40 per cent of the business.

He said setting up a brewery was cheaper in Hawke's Bay because of available wine-industry equipment.

"We got a lot of glycol – heating and cooling – pretty much for free as it was all set up. We only had to put in half the equipment of what normal people would have to."

A similar tale is told on the Gimblett Gravels, where a couple of staff brew in their own time.

They produced Trinity Hill's own beer and marketing it was a simple as putting a bottle on the bar.

"With the amount of people that come through the door, especially over summer time, some of the husbands are dragged along to the family excursion, to the winery, and are maybe not so fussed on wine," brewer Sebastian Hanes said.

"It was just a perfect harmony to introduce a beer into our cellar door."

Haworth said the craft beer market could be fickle, with changing flavour fashions.

"I'm always surprised every year. I think nothing new will come. Then all of a sudden one year it's pastry beers and then it might be milkshake stout and then slushy beers come out and then there's brut champagne IPAs out of San Diego. I'm always intrigued by the next thing that comes out."

If you thought the grain and the grape were unlikely bedfellows in our wineries, their relationship in Hawke's Bay is getting even cosier, through Haworth's own Katipo Brewing Company – a collaboration with Napier Brewing.

"Integrating some viognier grape juice into a pilsner style – so a co-ferment and a collaboration.

"I know it's sacrilege – we'll see how that ends up. It's all experimentation, it's good fun."

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