I’m currently on a plane flying back to Portland and although I am really looking forward to being back home and seeing my family, friends and staff I had a stellar journey through Australia and New Zealand with Travel Portland, Travel Oregon and the rest of the crew. The 14 day long journey was a beer themed sales mission to connect with travel partners and media in several cities to introduce them to wonders of Portland and the rest of Oregon. We visited Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland and Wellington. We hosted presentations, craft beer pairing luncheons and dinners along the way and for the grand finale- hosted a booth at the BEERVANA beer festival in New Zealand. It was a blast, to say the least. Thank you, thank you, thank you, to Heather, Lisa, Corey, Karen and crew- I am so appreciative for this experience- and you guys made it possible- THANK YOU!
I had two minutes during my presentation to introduce Aussies and Kiwis to BREWVANA and entice them to HOP on the bus. What I quickly learned was that my job was the easiest of all! Because these people LOVE beer- as well as many other things Oregonians enjoy, which makes Portland an ideal location to visit from Australia and New Zealand!
Our first dinner event was at the Brisbane Brewery, where I finally enjoyed a good craft beer. The staff was extremely gracious- gave us a behind the scenes tour, let us taste all of their beers and even brought out a vintage barrel aged Gnarleywine for the group to share at the end of a hard days work! At the start of the event time the guests walked around to each of the tables and got to know the representative delegates. There were six of us total including Sam Lockwood from the Jupiter Hotel, Samara Phelps from the Mt Hood Territory, Carolyn McCormick from the Tualatin Valley, David Penilton from America’s HUB world Tours and Scott Hartcorn from Shilo Inns and the Oregon Coast. When guests arrived they were given a passport with a trivia question from each table that they would have to answer before the end of dinner. This gave us a way to get the conversation started and incentive to visit each table. The passports were collected at the end and prizes were given to the guests including one backpack full of gift certificates from all the delegates so one lucky person would actually get to join us and experience Oregon first hand.
The feedback from the guests was overwhelmingly positive. They were engaged, well fed and beered and got to learn a lot about our beautiful state. Trever Bass from Hopworks and Eric Munger from Bridgeport joined us in Sydney and once we got to Wellington, Larry Sidor from Crux and Stephen Helwig from Base Camp as well as other VIPS who graced us with their presence during the trip such as Jeff Miller (CEO of Travel Portland), Todd Davidson (CEO Travel Oregon), Nigel Francisco (CFO Ninkasi Brewing and Tourism Commissioner), Billie Moser (VP Travel Portland), Scott West (CSO Travel Oregon) and Teresa O’Neill (VP Global Sales Travel Oregon). It was great to have the presence of these awesome people and to have Oregon beer represented at the events.
Once we got to Wellington, NZ the party was on. Wednesday at noon (as one of the events leading up to the festival), our brewers competed in the “Battle of the Brewers” a healthy beer competition with a 5 course meal, each course each paired with one New Zealand and one Oregon beer. Each of us were handed a double sided colored square with handle to vote. I was surprised how challenging it was to decide, both beers in every category were delicious! By the 5th round, the battle was tied with 2 votes for Oregon, 2 for New Zealand and of course the last round was a draw! It was a wonderful celebration and great way to kick off the “Road to Beervana”. That evening, Nigel was on a panel discussing the Big beer buyouts that are happening and presented a wonderful stance on the subject- we were proud of him and Ninkasi to represent us! Thursday morning after a nice run to the top of Mt Victoria, Sarah Meikle and Beth, the women responsible for the Beervana event, took us on a walking tour of the city that included cookies, coffee, peanut butter as well as many other sites and packed full of information. The sun was shining and the sky was blue. We explored further after lunch, traveling to the botanical gardens and the beautiful city below. I could totally live in Wellington! The Beervana festival was the grand finale, there were four 5hr sessions total- two Friday, two on Saturday. Portland, Oregon had a huge space featuring Hopworks, Base Camp, Crux, Ecliptic and Bridgeport. We also hosted a green screen photo booth with beer props. The crew was there to greet guests, answer questions about Portland and tell people to visit our city and of course to EXPERIENCE BREWVANA! The thing that made me so so happy was that both days of the festival there were volunteers pouring beer that had visited Portland before, been on a BREWVANA tour and LOVED it! I got to meet some very key people in the brewing community in New Zealand and was very impressed with the festival itself. What I loved about the experience was that each brewery had a chance to create their own booth and have a variety of beers on of their choice. The brewery staff manned the booth and was able to tell their story and represent their brand in their own unique and creative way. It gives the brewery a chance to be more than just the finished product and the consumer the opportunity to get connected to the brand. Plus, there were some killer beers and great people. We also got our own private tour by Jules and Chermaine in Wellington and got to visit some of the kick ass breweries that make the beer culture what it is today. This was my first mission with Travel Portland/ Oregon and I was so impressed with the organization/ planning that went into it and thankful that I got to be a part of it. A HUGE shout out and thank you to Heather Anderson and Lisa ItelTravel Portland, Travel Oregon and the Canukiwi Crew for making it possible. I’m going to miss the crew (6pac 4 life), flat whites, fancy hotel rooms but boy do I love coming home to Portland. I know this mission will bring a TON of beer lovers to Portland to experience BREWVANA in BEERVANA! It did- BLOW MY MIND!