Thursday, February 3, 2011

February 3, 2011 2011's First Tasting... Upcoming Treats... The Sevens... The Superbowl...

New Zealand breweries have done well in's new announcement of the top beers in Australasia. That is to say, New Zealand breweries did particularly well compared to Australian ones. But there are no New Zealand breweries or beers in the worldwide top 100 lists.

Now Ratebeer are quiet on exactly how they aggregate their results, but we know that 8 Wired's Hopwired IPA was a deserved first place getter because that's consistent with the way you, our customers, voted in our survey of everyone's favourite beers of 2010.

But what's really interesting about Hopwired's success on Ratebeer is the fact that most of the recent ratings have come from abroad. Søren has managed to send a few pallets of beer off to Denmark and the US and it looks as though the hardcore beer geeks in those countries are lavishing it with praise.

So perhaps if it wasn't for overseas consumers, 8 Wired beer would miss out on some of the accolades it is now receiving. Similarly, Epic Armageddon and Renaissance Elemental have had a good year on ratebeer and we understand that both of these have been made available in Australia and beyond over the last year.

Now Ratebeer doesn't have nearly as much of a following in New Zealand as it does in certain other countries, particularly the US. And it's notoriously skewed by the biases of its most regular contributors. (I.e. an average Imperial Stout or Imperial IPA will get a higher score than a really good Kölsch.) But it serves a useful purpose sometimes, especially when championing up-and-coming or experimental breweries like Mikkeller. Or 8 Wired.

So perhaps patriotic fans of local beer could do a simple service to our heroic local brewers by turning into authentic anorak-wearing beer-geeks and spending quality time on ratebeer.

If the idea appeals, here are a couple of notes:

  • The administrators of ratebeer weren't born yesterday, and they discount scores that are extreme or that come from novice "raters".
  • We would be remiss if we didn't mention SOBA's own Beer Map, that lets customers at bars anywhere in New Zealand track what they're drinking where, for the benefit of fellow consumers. In fact we (Hashigo Zake) are sponsoring prizes for top contributors. Go to
  • has a competitor called Beer Advocate, which is arguably equally deserving of your attention. (We also subscribe to the Beer Advocate magazine and have copies available at the bar.)

2011's First Tasting

This year our first tasting event of the year is an innovation - our first ever Matched Food and Sake evening. Our own Shigeo Takagi, as well as being our in-house sake expert, has been playing a big role in building our capability at catering for functions. He also spent some time in Japan recently, looking for ideas for this event.

So on the 22nd of this month from 6:30pm he'll be in charge of food and drinks for the lucky few who get in and book. To book, go to

Upcoming Treats

Wanaka Brewski will make a rare appearance on the pilsner tap.

On Monday (as discussed below) Ballast Point Big Eye IPA will be one of our Superbowl Special beers.

Right now the one and only keg in New Zealand of the big, rich Pete Brown Tribute Ale from Bear Republic is on tap.

Renaissance's new weiss beer that was a runaway success a couple of weeks ago is back and will be on tap soon.

Frankly there are so many distinctive and delicious beers in the On Tap Soon section of our menu that it would be tiresome to list them all.

The Sevens

The Wellington Sevens begins tomorrow and if last year is anything to go by, many of you are planning to lock the front door and stay in.

Last year was our first Sevens weekend as a business. Accepted wisdom is that it is the biggest event of the year for Wellington hospitality businesses. However we found that after we had applied our usual standards when it comes to admitting the paralytically drunk, we didn't actually do much business. We assumed that it was because you, the responsible portion of our customer base, didn't venture into town.

This year we've been informed that the council are making greater than ever efforts at managing the chaos that takes place on the 4th and particularly the 5th. This means that even our portion of Taranaki St will be closed to vehicles from 9pm on Saturday. Counter-intuitively though, pedestrians coming from the waterfront will be herded away from our vicinity and towards Tory St, which will be considered the "safe" way into Courtenay Place. To put it another way, it's going be slightly harder than usual (depending what direction you are coming from) to get to Hashigo Zake.

So this message aims to reassure our faithful, responsible customers that between our own door staff and the council's measures there is no reason to fear coming down on the 4th and 5th.

The Superbowl

Hot on the heals of the Sevens comes Superbowl Monday (or Superbowl Sunday as it's known in the US). Last year we took the participation of New Orleans in the match as a cue to make Gumbo and do some specials on American beer.

This year the match is being played in Dallas, so it seems appropriate to revive our fabulous twelve-hour, beer-infused chilli. We'll serve it with sour cream, corn chips and cheese.

Sadly neither of the teams (Steelers & Packers) is from the same city as a brewery that we import. We'll have to settle for a couple of beers from Oregon and California. So bottles of Rogue American Amber Ale and glasses of Ballast Point Big Eye IPA (on tap) will be discounted, and discounted again for anyone ordering our signature chilli.

The coverage on telly starts at midday, which coincidentally is when we open.


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