Thursday, October 28, 2010

October 28, 2010

  • Baird Kegs
  • Importing Beer
  • This Week's Highlights

Baird Kegs

The Baird Kegs delivered last week have been disappearing at a rate that is pleasing but almost alarming. A keg each of Rising Sun Pale Ale, Teikoku IPA and Suruga Bay IIPA gone in six days. Fortunately there is more of each of those. But the keg of Red Rose Amber Ale that went on last night (Wednesday) is definitely the only one in the country.

Now it seems that over the last year or so Bryan Baird has been going out of his way to incorporate New Zealand hops into the Baird lineup. Earlier in the year we secured a few cases of their Kiwi IPA and there have been a couple of other seasonals that we missed out on. But in a day or two we will tap one of two kegs of Baird's NZ Cascade Single Hop Pale Ale. We also have a similar single hop pale ale made using NZ Hallertau Aroma hops.

None of us have tasted these two new Baird beers yet, but past experience suggests that foreign beers made with New Zealand hops can defy expectations.

Importing Beer

We've had a steady stream of Australian, Japanese and Norwegian beer lately. And we hope there will be plenty more from the west coast of the US in the near future too. So this seemed a good time to reveal that there is more than just indiscriminate importation going on here. There is in fact a strategy.

Most of the Australian beer we've served lately (in particular those from Jamieson's and Bridge Road) have been sent to us in kegs that are owned by either Hashigo Zake or a New Zealand brewery. These kegs were earlier used to deliver New Zealand craft beer over there. These small orders are a small step towards the goal of creating a network of brewers, bars and discerning drinkers around the Pacific, sharing fresh stocks of each other's distinctive craft beer. This loosely defined ambition is still relatively new, but is shared by like-minded people dotted around some of the countries mentioned above.

The point is that in a roundabout way the consumption of such imports is indirectly helping New Zealand craft brewers get their products abroad. So we can all sip our Beasts and Blings with peace of mind. By contrast, the only thing being sent abroad when you drink the products of this country's industrial brewers is profit.

This Week's Highlights

We have already given a few clues to this week's highlights in the preceding paragraphs. Look out for more exciting instalments in our serialised drama - The Baird Kegs, including Red Rose Amber Ale (now showing) and NZ Cascade Single Hop Pale Ale.

We have more Hargreaves Hill ESB and Jamieson's The Beast IPA to dispense.

We're throwing a new variable into the Pilsner equation - Harrington's Rogue Hop. And while we're at it, we've sourced a keg of Harrington's Wobbly Boot Porter.

Mata's Jaysen came all the way from Kawerau with a keg of the latest batch of Mata's Blondie Wheat.

And in case we were getting predictable with our porters, we're putting on a keg of Emerson's London Porter before reverting to the highest rated Australasian Porter on - Renaissance's Elemental.

Hallertau's Statesman Pale Ale is on right now, with more Luxe and Stuntman to follow.

Finally... with Christmas coming and certain large import orders on the water or nearly ready to ship, we've cast our eye across our overflowing shelves, looking for anywhere that we might make room for new and returning products. And it is with mixed emotions we note that we have a glut of a certain precious range of beer. It's the Mikkeller Single Hop IPA series, made up of eight different but uniformly delicious IPAs, each flavoured with one and only one hop. They're beautiful beers that have come a long way and still have a year before they expire, but they're taking up a lot of space and are selling slowly. So for the immediately future we're reducing the price on each to a barely sane $12.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October 21, 2010

  • Japan's Finest on Tap
  • Hallertau Beer
  • Returning Friends
  • Our own Travails
  • Labour Weekend Trading

Japan's Finest on Tap

It seems a long, long time since we arranged for a supply of one way kegs to be delivered to the Baird Brewery in Numazu, Japan. Merely getting them to the brewery turned into a mission, then came the comparatively fun but slow task of agreeing what to fill them with and waiting while Baird worked through their brewing cycle. Finally it was more waiting as the shipment made the laboriously slow sea journey out here.

But they finally arrived this morning, a matter of hours after the last of our Nøgne Ø kegs was drained. This is fortuitous because it allows us to leave one tap dedicated to beer from whale-hunting nations.*

So the Nøgne Ø tap becomes the Baird Tap for the next month or two. We may decide to have more or fewer than one on tap at a time depending on the rate at which they are consumed. So here, in random order, are the beers represented in the shipment. And for those wondering, we do indeed have more than one of some - Rising Sun and Suruga Bay in particular:

Kurofune Porter
Rising Sun Pale Ale
Red Rose Amber Ale
Angry Boy Brown Ale
Teikoku IPA
Numazu Lager
Suruga Bay Imperial IPA
NZ Cascade Single Hop Ale
NZ Hallertau Aroma Single Hop Ale
Ganko Oyaji Barley Wine

The astute amongst you will note that Baird have been dabbling with New Zealand hops. We'll let on more about these beers in the next week or so.

Hallertau Beer

Hallertau will be nearly as prominent as Baird over the next week or two as we work our way through kegs of Steve Plowman's Stuntman, Statesman and Luxe. Our first ever keg of Stuntman went on a couple of days ago. It joins Renaissance's MPA as one of the few commercial Imperial IPAs made with only New Zealand hops. The Kölsch, Luxe, is on right now too.

Returning Friends

After previous abundant supplies of the Mussel Inn's Captain Cooker, we've been doing it tough over the last month or so. But a new batch is out and we have a keg ready to come on over the weekend.

It has been even longer since we had Twisted Hop's Sauvin Pils, but two kegs of this arrived yesterday too.

Remember to check our real time, web-two-point-oh feed of what's on to help time your imbibing over the coming days. It's at or (for those doing their browsing on the go)

Our Own Travails

Regulars have probably been all too aware of the recent fluctuations in the, ahem, flatness of parts of our floor. We thank you for your patience. Our problems will soon be over, we believe. We have a plan to lay a completely new floor on or around the end of the month. Please keep the faith.

Labour Weekend Trading

Labour Weekend will make no difference to our opening hours. I.e. we will open at midday every day and close some time late in the evening. Not only that, we will not be penalising you with a surcharge for being thirsty on a holiday. If we get picketed for this by the executive of the Hospitality Association, please step around them.

Even better - members of SOBA will still benefit from our discount on Sunday and Monday.

*This should not be construed as an endorsement of either whale hunting or the practice of taunting whale hunters.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October 14, 2010

We apologise to customers this week who are having to put up with a slightly moon-like experience when approaching the bar. This is due to an equipment failure last week that left some of our floorboards temporarily underwater. While we mopped up quickly the undersides of the floorboards are drying slowly creating some weird warping effects and gaps between floorboards and floor. We are attempting more permanent repairs on the weekend but in the mean time we ask for your patience and understanding.

Immediately below...
  • Beta Testing Beer
  • Stuntman
  • Last Chance to Try Nøgne ø
  • Other Goodies
  • Tastings

Beta Testing Beer

A little while ago our equal favourite Danish brewer, Søren Erikson of 8 Wired Brewing, suggested that we might like to act as an outlet for experimental batches that he makes on his tiny pilot brewery. And so it has come to pass that with Søren all set to brew a commercial batch of his new Imperial Red Ale, we have a keg's worth of his trial batch. Søren sent it up yesterday and it's on tap now. He is calling it Tall Poppy and describes is as an amped up version of the marvellous Red Dwarf Amber Ale. He wants to get as much feedback as possible before diving in to full scale production of it, so please let us know what you think, or write on the 8 Wired Facebook page.


A pallet of beer just arrived direct from rural Auckland. We now have enough Hallertau beer to satisfy the thirstiest jafa. First on, some time over the next few days, will be Stuntman, Steve Plowman's Imperial IPA, with this batch made entirely using New Zealand hops.

Remember that to find out what's on tap at any point in time you can just go to

Last Chance to Try Nøgne ø

We're onto the fifth and final keg of our Nøgne ø shipment. This time it's their IIPA/Barley Wine hybrid known as #100. Congratulations and thanks to those of you who have been adventurous enough to sample tap beer all the way from Norway. There should be just a short hiatus before we're pouring Japanese beer on tap with our latest Baird shipment due any day.

Other Goodies

For those who sensibly refrain from spending whole sessions knocking back Imperial IPAs and Barley Wines there are some more restrained treats due to come on tap:

  • A new beer - "Bales Bitter" - from Nelson's Golden Bear.
  • The blessed trinity of NZ Pilsners - Emerson's, Three Boys and Croucher.
  • More Aussie beer in the form of Hargreaves Hill ESB.
  • Paradox blonde - the lightest of Renaissance's pale ales.


Bookings are open for our next two tastings. Next Tuesday is our Kamishin Sake tasting. Details and a chance to book are at

And next month on Tuesday the 9th will be our tasting of two series from our equal favourite Danish brewer, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø. Details are at

Thursday, October 7, 2010

October 7, 2010

Immediately below...
  • All that Glisters
  • Tastings, tastings, tastings
  • Dark Horses
  • On Tap Now & Soon
  • Nordic Beer
  • Mead
  • A Word About GST & Pricing

All that Glisters

It seems appropriate during Commonwealth Games season that we have just been showered in bronze tinged accolades. There's nothing wrong with third, after all (just ask our athletes), especially when you're but an inexperienced youth up against established champions with the best physicians money can buy.

So it is with humility and gratitude that we say Thank You Wellington for naming us the third best bar in the capital. (According to Capital Times' Best of Wellington Survey.) And in fact, the best bar in Wellington that wasn't first or second last year.

But that's just the beginning. Our own David Wood - barely 14 months ago a fulltime supermarket employee and part time beer expert - was named equal third best barman in Wellington.

So much positive feedback and we're barely out of the blocks.

Tastings, Tastings, Tastings

Our tasting programme is back in full stride after the chaos and distraction of Beervana and everything else that went on in August and September. On Tuesday night will be our Quebec beer tasting. No prior knowledge of Quebec beer or French language is necessary. At the heart of the tasting will be the extravagant beers of Dieu du Ciel. Supporting roles will be taken by Unibroue and St Ambroise. You can book and pay for a place at

The following week will be a sake tasting made up of our new range of sakes from Kamishin brewery in Okayama, augmented by some extras from other Japanese breweries and Europe's first sake. Bookings are at

And it is with great pleasure that we can announce a tasting of special interest to anyone with a particular interest in... beer. Mikkel Borg Bjergsø of Mikkeller continues to do things with hops, malt, water and yeast that other brewers can only dream of. This time we are providing a chance to sample two of his series, in which he creates a collection of beers with exactly one point of difference. Sound obscure? Maybe. A priceless opportunity to understand the influence of one component of the brewing process? Absolutely.

The series in question are the yeast series and the Black Hole barrel aged series. It happens on November 9. For more info and the chance to book a place, go to

Dark Horses

When we import pallet loads of beer at a time it's sometimes hard to give every arrival the attention it deserves. Occasionally we need to make a special effort to draw attention to some of our dark horses. In fact we could probably give a hundred beers this treatment at any point in time, but here are a few:

  • Mussel Inn Dark Horse. After Beervana we took the opportunity of reducing the load that the Mussel Inn people had to take back to Golden Bay. So we have good stock of some of their beers that are even rarer than Captain Cooker. Dark Horse is a 4% porter and Golden Goose is also 4%, but a pale lager. As a rural brewpub with virtually no public transport it's no wonder that the Mussel Inn have a few 4 percenters.
  • Anderson Valley. We took the liberty of bringing in a few of the Anderson Valley range. They are classic, West Coast, American craft beers. Included in the range are an amber ale, an IPA and a Double IPA. And Andy Deuchars of Renaissance used to work there!
  • Rogue Mogul Madness. So what if it's their winter beer - we liked it so much we made a point of re-ordering this when it ran out a month or so ago. As rich and complex as it is, there's nothing cloying about Mogul Madness so you needn't be shivering to appreciate it.

On Tap Now & Soon

Some treats to look out for:

  • Tuatara APA Batch #3. On tap any day.
  • Croucher Pale Ale - back after a brief hiatus and on tap right now. This batch seems to have had more filtration than we're used to. Let us know what you think.
  • Aussie Beers. We still have a few kegs left of Jamieson's The Beast IPA, Hargreaves Hill ESB and Bridge Rd Bling.
  • Renaissance Voyager, Yeastie Boys' Punkadiddle, Three Boys Golden Ale and Peak Mendip Bitter on the hand pumps.

Nordic Beer

We're two and a bit kegs into our first ever order of kegged Nøgne ø beer, and no-one has been disappointed (unless they expected a bargain). The condition of the beer has been magnificent considering the odyssey the kegs undertook to get here. There was a particularly poignant moment last evening when the IPA keg ran dry.

The Imperial Brown Ale is on now, with Saison and #100 to come.

The just-as-good news is that there should only be a short interval between when the Nøgne ø runs out and 18 kegs of Baird beer arrive from Japan.


Rhys Morgan of Peak Brewery makes a little mead on the side, under the Girdwood Estate label. It comes in an elegant 375ml bottle with a cork stopper and will be selling for $20.

A Word About GST and Pricing

If Consumer Magazine comes calling then we might as well 'fess up - our prices didn't go up by a uniform two and a bit percent last week. Some didn't go up at all, while for a number of others we took stock of all the price changes we've overlooked over the last twelve months and went to town. The aim of the exercise was simply to adjust prices enough to cover the increased GST bill that we'll be faced with shortly. We hope you understand and can think of your own imminent tax cuts when you judge our prices.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

September 30, 2010

Immediately below...
  • Nøgne ø on Tap
  • Quebec Beer Tasting
  • Sake Tasting
  • Finally..

Nøgne ø on Tap

Today marks another watershed for Hashigo Zake. This evening Norway joins the list of countries that have been represented on our taps. (For the curious, that list is New Zealand, Australia, Japan, the US, the UK, Belgium, Germany and Denmark.) We've been acquainting ourselves with the fabulous new bottled beers that came in our recent Scandinavian shipment for long enough and it's time to take the plunge and put on one of Nøgne ø's plastic key kegs.

So some time tonight, when our current keg of Yeastie Boys' Pot Kettle Black runs out, we'll wrestle with obscure European keg couplers and wrangle Nøgne ø Porter on to a tap.

Quebec Beer Tasting

As announced earlier, we are planning a tasting to celebrate and thoroughly test our recent shipment of beers from three Quebec breweries. The breweries are Dieu du Ciel, Unibroue and St Ambroise. The tasting takes place on Tuesday October 12 at 6:30pm and places can be booked online at

Now it has come to our attention that October 12 coincides with one of the All Whites' upcoming international matches. We appreciate that many of our customers are partial to a bit of footba' and some people might have an interest in attending both events. At the same time we're loath to change plans without good reason. So if anyone would like to make the case for moving the event then please get in touch and we'll see how many of you there are.

Sake Tasting

Last week we announced the arrival of a range of sakes from the Kamishin brewery in Okayama, Japan. These are pretty interesting, especially for anyone fond of sweeter and/or fruitier sakes. It seems fitting to welcome them properly by showcasing them with a tasting. But we have other recent arrivals to give this tasting added interest. We will throw in samples of the first sake ever brewed in Europe - the Nøgne ø brewery's new Daiginjyo-shu. We also have a small amount of sake and umeshu from the Kiuchi brewery. Kiuchi are better known outside Japan for brewing Hitachino Nest beer and this umeshu is even made from distilled beer.

This tasting takes place at 6:30pm on October 19, and you can book and pay for a place at


A couple of human interest stories... Firstly, two of this business's investors and most reliable customers have their last drinks at HZ for some time tonight. The couple known as Pete and Kathryn are going to spend some time in Central America and Nelson (go figure). Please excuse the large crowd of well-wishers that may join us in the bar tonight (Thursday).

Also our favourite Samoan Tolutasi Laga has been grinning for the last 24 hours after convincing the City Council that she's fit to be a certified manager. Tasi insists that there's a difference between bitchiness and bossiness and we're about to learn what it is.