On unusually hot days, I've been known to drink a beer. Possibly two, if all my chores are done.

In truth, wherever I travel, I keep an eye out for genuine local beers. If I'm in Christchurch, it might be Harrington's (I brewed with them once! Good buggers!) or Three Boys. In the States, I like the big, hoppy beers born of the West Coast — it's the same style that's going so well down here. When I visit Wellington, I hardly know where to start.

Jesse Mulligan has been to Beervana, the capital's cheerful festival celebrating the best of local craft beer, and he shares his story in this week's Travel. This year, brewers from Oregon came to Beervana, bringing their wares and, I hope, departing with satisfied grins.

For me, the stories and personalities behind the beers are as important as the drop itself. Much like in the wine trade.


But wine has a massive — and probably unassailable headstart — over beer in the tourism stakes. People travel with wine as the No 1 reason for visiting a particular destination — from Central Otago to the Napa Valley and Bordeaux. Beer, I reckon, is more likely to be one of many factors in a beer-lover's planning, but probably not the prime driver. It's something encountered along the way, not targeted from the outset. Oregon might be the exception.

Craft beer doesn't export well — unlike wine — and its fans tend to be a tad parochial. Which makes it nice to show visitors from overseas what we've got when they do reach these shores.

I'm always quietly chuffed when I get to introduce a visitor to our beer scene. Cheers!