Thursday, July 29, 2010

July 29, 2010

Immediately below...
  • Fresh South Island Beer
  • Another First
  • Wedding FSA
  • Met the Brewer
  • Free Crown Caps for Home Brewers
  • Mysterious Gatherings
  • Fresh South Island Beer

    From famine to feast: just last night we were scratching our heads trying to find just the right beer to put on an empty tap. This afternoon no fewer than 16 kegs of beer from seven different South Island breweries turned up at our door. (And Shiggy had to single-handedly haul them away.)

    As well as some reliable staples from Renaissance and Three Boys, there's no shortage of exciting rarities to get us all salivating. Please read on...

    • Golden Bear's Winter Ale, which we tried a few weeks ago, gets another turn. And we still have good stocks of Patriots Pale Ale too.
    • Dux de Lux's Nor'Wester is always hard to source, but we have snapped up one more keg.
    • Townshend Brewery have taken their Rosedale Bitter, which we've often had on our hand pumps, and produced a kegged version. At only 4% ABV it's refreshing to have a moderate strength session ale on a tap as well as a hand pump.
    • Renaissance's Craftsman is back, for all those who appreciate a well and truly chocolate infused dark ale.
    • We've nabbed some more 3 Boys Oyster Stout, since there wouldn't be much point ordering their summer release yet.
    • Last but not least, a certain Danish brewer living in Blenheim has put together a new batch of his most famous product. We've secured not one, but two kegs of this beer, apparently before it was due to be kegged. It's best not to divulge how we got them. We can't make promises about when the first of these stealth kegs will make it on, but it will probably be between 6pm and 10pm tomorrow (Friday the 30th).
    • Another First

      A few days ago, and after much confusion over keg couplers, we became the first bar in New Zealand to offer Meantime IPA on tap. This is as hoppy as many a New Zealand or American IPA, but the hops are English Fuggles and Goldings, making it a refreshing change. And there can be nothing more fitting than having an IPA that's actually been shipped from England. (Unless we were actually in India.) It's a remarkable beer to have on tap, and only a handful of kegs are available from the importer, us.

      Wedding FSA

      In amongst the plethora of South Island beer mentioned earlier is another that's destined for one of our handpumps. It would be fitting if it goes on the handpump sold to us by Stu McKinley, because the beer is Wedding FSA. Apparently FSA stands for Fritha and Stu Ale (or something similar) and has been brewed in anticipation of the forthcoming nuptials of Wellington's very own Yeastie Boy.

      Will it be bad luck to drink the wedding beer before the wedding? We've got a hand pump needing beer, so we aren't going to wait for an answer. Cheers Stu.

      Met the Brewer

      We have to pay tribute to Richard Emerson. He had a five day stint in Wellington last week, during which he was whisked from event to event by his minders at Regional Wines and Spirits, made to taste and talk about his product for hours on end and was required to remain upbeat the whole time. For the last leg of this ordeal he was delivered to our door, and, seemingly unaffected, mingled with his many admirers, played guess-the-whisky, consumed the countless beverages bought for him and generally showed why he remains New Zealand Craft Brewing's biggest personality. And the complimentary keg of Weizenbock didn't hurt either. All in all Saturday evening (normally a strange, strange time for our business) was a lot of fun to be part of.

      We took advantage of Richard's good nature to secure as big a supply this year's JP as possible. Geoff Griggs' review of the beer is here.

      We also have Bookbinder on tap right now, and Emerson's Pilsener back on soon.

      Free Crown Caps for Home Brewers

      We have a large, large box of crown caps with Beervana 2009 stamped on them. Free to good, brewing homes.

      Mysterious Gatherings

      We understand that among our patrons tomorrow evening will be a group of people who have one thing in common with each other - the medium by which they made their plan to meet. How weird is that?

      July 22, 2010

      Immediately below...
      • Emerson's Week
      • On Tap Now or Soon
      • A Call For Volunteers
      • Something Beerly Related
      • Emerson's Week

        This is Emerson's Beer Week, when the Emerson's Brewery is showcased in its biggest market, Wellington, by their local distributor, Regional Wines and Spirits.


        As part of this celebration, several Hashigo Zake staff were reluctantly subjected to a masterclass at which a number of Emerson's beers were matched with dishes prepared by Crazy Horse Restaurant. Arguably the most striking beer of the whole event was the 2010 edition of JP, Richard's annual homage to Belgian brewing. This year the style chosen was the not-so-traditional Belgian IPA. This is a style we tend to associate with American craft breweries who love nothing better than to set the distinctive aromas and flavours of warm-fermented Belgian ales against the intense fruit and bitterness of American hops. Judging by the way Flying Dog's Raging Bitch flew off our shelves it's a style that you, our customers, find appealing.

        The good news is that Emerson's new beer succeeds magnificently at reconciling the conflicting flavours that make up a Belgian IPA. The choice of the relatively clean Duvel yeast means there isn't too much spiciness competing with the American hop character, but there remains enough ale character to distinguish it from the (still remarkable) beer it would have been with a more generic yeast.

        Hashigo Zake's trade negotiation team immediately entered into talks to acquire as much stock of this extraordinary one-off beer as possible, which should be available for sale at Hashigo Zake by the time you read this.

        Meet the Brewer

        The undoubted highlight of Emerson's Week is Saturday's Meet The Brewer event on our own premises. Yes Richard will be here from 6:30pm this Saturday, dispensing samples and mingling with appreciative drinkers.

        Even better, the brewery will provide a keg of Emerson's Weizenbock for the event. This is from the brand new 2010 batch. The 2009 version beat the legendary Schneider and Sons' Aventinus to the prize of Champion Wheat Beer in the Australian International Beer Awards back in May. This is the first time any of this beer has made it into a keg.

        On Tap Now or Soon

        Last week we promised another New Zealand first - Meantime IPA on tap. It's now on the premises and is sitting in the waiting room, chomping at the bit, waiting for its chance. By the time you read this it should have fought its way on to a tap, but to be sure, remember you can check here.

        Rogue's Northwestern Ale, the India Red Ale named in honour of real life crab fisherman Sig Hansen, is on tap for the final time. When it's gone it will still be available by the bottle.

        While we wait for the second batch of their APA to come on stream, we've nabbed a keg of Tuatara Pilsner to take the place of the usual Three Boys, Emerson's and Croucher Pilsners for a while.

        Maredsous Tripel, a real live Belgian tripel, is on tap and will be a for a bit longer while we commemorate Belgian National Day (July 21st).

        Yeastie Boys' Motueka Monster and Yakima Monster are both back, this time on the hand pumps.

        A Call For Volunteers

        As you probably know, New Zealand's most important beer festival - Beervana - takes place at the end of next month. As big as Beervana is, it does rely on volunteers to support the organisers and all the stall holders. So Steph Coutts, the volunteer coordinator, is looking for willing helpers to work at one of the four sessions.

        There are perks. For one thing you will also get a free pass to attend one of the Beervana sessions that you aren't actually working at. PLUS you get to attend Lautering with Intent - The Beervana Volunteers Briefing which will be held here at Hashigo Zake on the Tuesday evening before the event.

        Sound good? Check out the volunteer registration page here.

        Something Beerly Related

        Hashigo Zake has a longstanding relationship with FlexiTime, the payroll software company run by SOBA treasurer Rob Owen. This has been a good week for FlexiTime. They have been profiled in an article in next Monday's DominionPost, and to emphasise the stress-free qualities of his product, Rob chose to be photographed in his "happy place" - sitting at our bar.

        The company is also taking part at this week's Bizzone expo at the TSB Arena. For this event FlexiTime engaged the services of Sean Golding and Florian Karp, the design/build team responsible for the way Hashigo Zake looks and for our much loved portable bar, to design and build their booth. And we've just heard that they have taken out the prize for the most creative site. Congratulations to all involved.

        Monday, July 19, 2010

        July 15, 2010

        Immediately below...
        • New Baird Shipment
        • Richard Emerson
        • Imminent Arrivals
        • Happy Birthday Belgium
        • And Finally...
        • New Baird Shipment

          Our latest shipment from Asia's finest brewery arrived yesterday. Once again we have replenished our stocks of several of their year-round beers (notably Numazu Lager and Suruga Bay Imperial IPA) while being lucky enough to pick up some more unusual seasonals. Look out for Pacific Century Citrus IPA, Shizuoka Natsumikan Ale, Zamamiro! Ale and Biere du Japon.

          The products are also on sale at our online store. See

          Meanwhile, as you read this, 18 kegs are being filled at the Baird Brewery in Numazu, Japan and we hope to have them here in late August.

          Richard Emerson

          Richard Emerson remains New Zealand's pre-eminent craft brewer, as he has been for well over a decade. Last year's Grand Champion prize at BrewNZ reminded us that while the pool of fine brewers in New Zealand continues to grow, Richard is still the top dog.

          So we are delighted that as part of Regional Wines & Spirits' week of events celebrating the Emerson's Brewery, we get to host Saturday evening's Meet The Brewer. Richard will be here from 6:30pm on Saturday the 24th, dispensing samples and mingling with appreciative drinkers.

          Even better, we've just learned that the brewery will provide a rare keg of Emerson's Weizenbock for the event. This beer beat the legendary Schneider and Sons' Aventinus to the prize of Champion Wheat Beer in the Australian International Beer Awards back in May. It's unusual for the brewery to put something this big in a keg and it's unlikely there will be another opportunity in the near future to sample this beer straight from the tap.

          Imminent Arrivals

          We've been pretty happy some of the rare and special beers we got our hands on lately. But it seems that the good run isn't over.

          We're days away from securing another New Zealand first - Meantime IPA on tap.

          We've been planning a massive shipment of Australian craft beers for some time. (Contrary to popular mythology, not all the best breweries are on this side of the Tasman.) All the planning is close to bearing fruit, so brace yourselves for possibly the most opulent IPA made in Australasia, making its New Zealand debut. Plus we'll welcome back a couple of gems that we got to enjoy in the washup after last year's Beervana.

          Christchurch favourites Twisted Hop IPA and Dux de Lux Norwester are back in the building this week. And to mix things up a little we've nabbed a keg of Dux de Lux's alcoholic ginger beer Ginger Tom.

          While a couple of well regarded IPAs fight it out in Courtenay Place for the title of New Zealand's second hoppiest beer, we'll be bringing out another keg of the extraordinary Summ!t Imperial IPA.

          And how's this for a novelty? A single 30L keg of Mikkeller Y Pale Ale. We've never even had this in a bottle before, but it's said to be an American Pale Ale, and is getting rave reviews everywhere it's landed. It may also end up the most expensive kegged beer we've ever brought it, so we're looking for the right time and circumstance to tuck into it. Stay tuned.

          Happy Birthday Belgium

          Any country that's famous for beer and chocolate definitely counts as interesting, no matter what anyone says. So we at Hashigo Zake extend warm congratulations to Belgium on the occasion of their 179th birthday. And we'd like to celebrate by welcoming back an old favourite - Maredsous Tripel. It will be back on tap by early next week, in time for Wednesday's festivities.

          Wednesday will also be a perfect time to try a Carbonade Flamande, if you haven't already. This Belgian Beef & Beer stew is perfect winter comfort food.

          And finally

          On Saturday, anyone hungry should look out for our take on a South African rugby watching tradition - the Bunny Chow.

          Friday, July 9, 2010

          July 9, 2010

          This week's dispatch is short and delayed, for which I apologise. It's been another frantic week here at HZ and we've been busy re-stocking for the weekend. Rest assured though that there will fridges and shelves full of the best beverages we can muster waiting for you this cold, rainy, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

          Immediately below...
          • Barley Wine
          • On Tap Now and Soon
          • New Shipment of Baird Beer
          • Meet The Brewer(s)

          Barley Wine

          The first of our Winter Tastings takes place on Tuesday, this one dedicated to Barley Wines (and a few even more rare but similar styles).

          This will include some rock star beers and like a good rock festival you never know what the final lineup will be until the oversexed stars you thought you booked step out of the 1st class section of a 747. However the lineup will include:

          • Mikkeller/Brewdog Devine Rebel
          • Baird West Coast Wheat Wine
          • Baird Ganko Oyaji Barley Wine
          • Mikkeller Oatgoop
          • Rogue XS Old Crustacean Barley Wine
          • Flying Dog Horn Dog Barley Wine
          There are still places left, so reply to this email if you would like to join in the decadence.

          On Tap Now and Soon

          We've had indulgent fare lately - Summ!it Imperial IPA, Yeastie Boys' Yakima Monster, Invercargill Smokin' Bishop, not to mention having three (3!) Oregon beers on tap at once. So it will be a relief to have a slightly more restrained lineup, with many returning favourites from Three Boys, Croucher and Renaissance. But the truth is always a little more complicate, because we still have stock of the aforementioned Summ!t and Yakima Monster, not to mention more Hallertau Statesman.

          We're also expecting a keg of Golden Bear's Winter Ale, and more of the sensational Invercargill Saison. Look out too for more of Renaissance's Craftsman Chocolate Oatmeal Stout.

          It must added though that at this time on late Friday morning we remain at the mercy of freight companies, so many of the above commitments are made with fingers crossed.

          New Shipment of Baird Beer

          Speaking of being at the mercy of freight... another pallet of beer from (arguably) Asia's finest brewery is believed to be closer to Wellington than Yokohama. In fact our customs broker is giving an ETA of early next week. This shipment will replenish our stocks of wonderful beers like Suruga Bay Imperial IPA, and the award winning Numazu Lager. It will also include a handful of new seasonals, including the much-anticipated Biere du Japon.

          Meet the Brewer(s)

          It was a pleasure to see the bar much fuller on Monday than is customary for that day of the week. Thanks are due to Regional Wines and Spirits and Founders Brewery for allowing us to host Matt Duncan and distribute samples of that brewery's Duncan Weizen.

          In association with Regional Wines and Spirits we are planning a similar event later this month involving the one and only Richard Emerson. Stay tuned for more information.

          July 1, 2010

          Immediately below... * Happy Birthday Canada * 4th of July * On Tap Now and Soon * Our Next Two Tastings * Meet The Brewer(s) * Festivals

          Happy Birthday Canada

          Our birthday wishes are tinged with regret that we don't yet stock any of our favourite Canadian beers. Our plans are in motion and we hope to have some extraordinary offerings from north of the border by late August.

          But we do enjoy and appreciate the patronage of a number of expat Canadians and we invite you all to come down and celebrate your national day with a fine ale. Or why not join in the fun on Sunday:

          Happy 4th of July

          Marking the 4th of July is not so hard for us as we are blessed with good stocks of Rogue and Flying Dog beers. This Sunday we'll break our pattern of having a single Rogue beer on tap and dedicate no fewer than three taps to our favourite Oregon brewer.

          We'll also offer specials on some of our bottled American beers.

          To add to the Americana mood we're going to start cooking a beer and beef chili late on Saturday night so by Sunday afternoon it should be overflowing with flavour.

          And we'll incorporate entertainment which may or may not include a screening of the "bockumentary" American Beer, or, ahem, live NASCAR.

          On Tap Now and Soon

          New Zealand beer doesn't get much more culty than Smokin' Bishop, Invercargill Brewery's unique bock made with manuka-smoked malt - sometimes known as "that bacon beer". We've secured a rare keg and this will come on tap over the next few days. And for good measure we've replenished our stock of bottles of the same beer, so you can order your Smokin' Bishop with confidence.

          Liberty Brewing's Summit Imperial India Pale Ale did indeed arrive last Friday and by Saturday night we took the unusual step of putting our second keg of it on straight after the first. Many congratulations are due to Joseph Wood of Liberty Brewing (better known as a supplier of home brew equipment). Joseph is visiting Wellington on Friday and promises to pop into our humble dispensary.

          At the time of writing Hallertau's Statesman Pale Ale just made it onto one of our taps for the first time. At a time when most of New Zealand's best beer seems to come from the South Island it makes a nice change to have another brewery sending beer southward.

          Over the next day or two we will welcome back Kaimai Brewing's unusual Golden Rye Ale. We also have a keg of the latest batch of 3 Boys' Oyster Stout.

          Our Next Two Tastings

          Bookings are coming in steadily for our two next tasting events. It seems inevitable that August's Imperial Stouts and Porters tasting will be fully subscribed. And there is a reasonable chance that July's Barley Wine tasting will be too.

          Barley Wines, July 13

          We're confident we have the most extensive range of barley wines in New Zealand. In fact we will leave a couple of barley wines out to make room for some related styles - such as a wheat wine and oat wine.

          The lineup will include beers from the US, Denmark (more than once, thanks to Mikkel), Japan, England, Scotland and Brazil. The only thing missing is a local example of the style. If anyone knows of a New Zealand barley wine that might be available to us, please let us know.

          Imperial Stouts and Porters, August 10

          A month should be long enough for everyone to recover from the barley wines, so August will be the turn of Imperial Stouts and Porters. Again we have an extensive range to choose from. And this time there should be one or two local examples.

          Note that we aren't completely irresponsible, and to compensate for the extremely high alcohol levels (and expense) of the styles being tasted, portions will be small. But we are confident that the quality, variety and sheer flavour of these tastings will leave you all satisfied. The price for both will be $40. Bookings are now open and the easiest way to reserve your place is to reply to this email.

          Meet the Brewer(s)

          Our ally and supplier Regional Wines and Spirits are distributors for some of New Zealand's most loved craft breweries. One of their stable is Founders Organic Brewery and they are bringing Matt Duncan of Founders to Wellington and to Hashigo Zake specifically. He will be in the bar next Monday, dispensing samples of one of their range and meeting Wellington's most discerning drinkers.

          In association with Regional Wines and Spirits we are planning a similar event later this month involving the one and only Richard Emerson. Stay tuned for more information.

          Beer Festivals

          Last Saturday night we witnessed most of SOBA's leadership in here and unwinding after the success of the inaugural Winter Ales Festival.

          With this festival behind us we're looking forward to BrewNZ and Beervana. Beervana takes place on the 27th and 28th of August. We'll be there with a stall, serving beers that we think are extreme even by our standards and, we hope, one or two big surprises. Sadly the Town Hall won't let us sell tickets, so anyone wanting to book will have to go to the anointed ticket agency.