One of the more unusual stands at the annual Beervana festival in Wellington this weekend comes courtesy of the US Department of Agriculture.
Online retailer Beer Jerk is hosting an American-themed stand at Sky Stadium on November 20-21 thanks to support from the Foreign Agriculture Service, effectively the ambassadorial arm of the USDA.
Exactly how the joint venture works is difficult to explain as the US Embassy has a rule of not speaking to media, but White confirmed the role played by the USDA was vital.
“The USDA drove the initiative and supported us to make this happen,” White said.
“I first got in touch when we were importing American beers and thought that since Americans had some of the best capitalists in the world their government would be keen to support exports. And it turns out they are.”
According to the US Embassy website, FAS has a global network of 98 offices covering 177 countries.
“FAS staff identify problems, provide practical solutions, and work to advance opportunities for US agriculture and support US foreign policy around the globe,” the website says.
“FAS assists US exporters in selling their products overseas. The office at the US Embassy in Wellington provides an important link between US exporters seeking information on the New Zealand market and New Zealand importers looking for suppliers of high-quality foods from the United States.”
White added: “The US Department of Agriculture have tendrils in every corner of the world and their agenda is to encourage people to buy American products. The fact is, there’s an entire government agency that is there to spread the word about American produce – whether it’s pork, corn, beer or hops – and they have budgets to further that cause.”
Beer Jerk also worked with the Brewers Association in America on what he called a “fairly complex project” made tougher by Covid-19.
“It’s been really hard because of the pandemic. A lot of breweries just didn’t have enough beer as they are switching from keg to small pack – we wanted kegs not cans.”
Beer Jerk will pour 12 different beers – two each from Modern Times, Stone, Smog City, Heretic, Anderson Valley and the Virginia Beer Company.
Because of a tight schedule, they’ve been forced to air freight the beer so to keep costs down they are bringing in around 120L of each beer.
“It’s extraordinarily expensive and because there are fewer flights than normal it’s almost like a bidding war to get stock on flights, so the price is three times what it usually is. The freight is costing more than the beer, so it’s a labour of love.”
The stand – to be known as Uncle Sam’s Beer & BBQ – will also feature Hamilton-based competitive barbecue outfit More Better BBQ who will be serving up traditional low-and-slow BBQ food including turkey drumsticks.
Beervana is on this weekend, Friday 20th November – Saturday 21th November 2020.