We love Burger Wellington. For us it’s one of the best events in the Capital’s packed culinary calendar. That’s a bold claim but we think it’s justified.

Just on a purely visceral level burgers are flat out yummy. They generally involve caramelized meat of some kind, perhaps some melted cheese, soft bread, awesome sauce and they often like to hang out with fried potatoes. Maybe it’s just me but I think this reads like a checklist for comfort eating. So what could be better than the opportunity to waddle around Wellington in gluttonous celebration of this most iconic of fast food forms?

But the pleasure of Burger Wellington runs deeper than just sanctioned gastronomic excess. It’s also a collision of high and lowbrow. It’s the high end made humble and the humble made high end. It’s a bit cheeky and irreverent. By the very nature of the event it can never take itself too seriously. It levels the playing field and always, always produces surprises. It messes with convention and blurs boundaries, and above all it’s fun.

We like fun and so four years ago we started the Beer and Burger Match - because the only thing that could possibly elevate the burger experience to another level is to add a can of beer.

The idea is simple, we offer a range of beers to competing venues for them to match with their burgers, and the best match wins. This year’s venues can choose from a range of our standard Garage brews which includes Orange Sunshine, Hapi Daze, Beer, Hops on Pointe, Pils ’n’ Thrills, Garagista, Angry Peaches, Death from Above, Pernicious Weed and Aro Noir. But over the four years that we have been involved in Burger Wellington it’s also become a tradition for us to offer a range of new beers for venues to use in their burger matches.

This year we have three new offerings fresh in the can for anyone taking part in the Burger Challenge.

First up is Hakituri Pilsner, our first ever organic beer. The name refers to Hakituri, the spirit guardians of the forest in Maori mythology. The beer is brewed with 100% organic malts and organic Motueka, Wai-iti and Taiheke. If you haven’t heard of Taiheke before that is because until very recently it was known as New Zealand Cascade. The fact is that hops grown in New Zealand take on their own particular character making them different from those grown overseas, so there is good reason to rename a hop like this to acknowledge this different character. Taiheke means falling water or rapids, which is a nice nod to Cascade. Hakituri is a clean, crisp pilsner with subtle tropical fruit and fresh grassy, citrus hop notes. It’s a cleaner and more subtle hop character than some of our previous Burger Challenge beers, but that snappy bitterness and fresh hop notes should stack up well against even the richest burger.

This year we also have some more challenging offerings for the more adventurous chefs. It is after all a Burger Challenge, not a Burger Cakewalk.

The first of these adventurous brews is Persephone - which just for the record is pronounced  “per-seh-fə-nee”, not “per-seh-fone”, so not like “you used to call me on your Persephone”. In Greek mythology, Persephone, was abducted by Hades, lord of the underworld. Eventually freed she was forced to return every year to Hades’ kingdom after eating a single pomegranate seed from the underworld. Her passage from earth to the underworld and her return the following year is said to bring about the changes in the seasons. It’s a cool story and a very classical inspiration for what is definitely not a ‘classical’ beer. Persephone is brewed with a saison yeast, pomegranate molasses and juice, pepper, bitter orange and grapefruit peel and reduced balsamic vinegar. It’s definitely among some of the more unusual flavour combinations we’ve tried but it works, with a whip crack tart character and complexity that definitely won’t be overshadowed by any of the big flavours on offer.

Inspiration for our last Burger Challenge offerings this year is a classic of a very different sort. You know the line “I met her in a club down in North Soho, Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like cherry cola”. Allow me to introduce Lola, cherry cola black lager. With a name inspired by the Kinks’ gender bending classic, this beer is also a nod to the fact that Cola, rather than beer, might claim to be the classic burger companion. The result is a boundary blurring beer that boasts one of the longest list of ingredients we’ve ever used. In addition to the usual malt and hops, Lola also contains cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, bitter orange peel, lemon peel, lavender, lime, vanilla, sour cherries and last, but definitely not least, ethically sourced kola nut extract, kindly sourced by the good people at Karma Cola. The result is Lola, a kinky, whimsical, boundary bending little mind fuck of a beer which should leave you asking... what is it? The answer of course is does it really matter if it feels this good?

So there you are, thirteen different beers for the competing venues to choose from. This year there are a record 116 different burgers on offer. Think about it.  Burger Wellington runs for 17 days, so that’s 6.8 burgers a day you’re going to have to eat if you don’t want to miss out. That’s a whole lot of burgers and a whole lot of beers. You’d better get started.