Thursday, June 16, 2011

June 16, 2011

SOBA's Matariki Winter Ale Festival... New from Liberty... Other New Beer... Bargains... National Days... A Word About Our Importing Programme...

SOBA's Matariki Winter Ale Festival

It's just over a week until the second Matariki Winter Ale Festival takes place at the Boatshed on the waterfront. This year our involvement is even greater than last year, with a number of the beers on offer being gems from our stock of rare kegged beers from around the Pacific.

If you haven't got your ticket yet, get along to the SOBA website to book.

And by the way, we're all still waiting for a decision in the SOBA/DB/Radler trademark hearing.

New from Liberty

We're running the risk of turning this email into an(other) extended publicity blurb for Liberty. But we're particularly pleased with what Joe Wood has done now. He asked what kind of beer we would like and he went out and made it.

Please believe that our answer to his question wasn't self-serving and indulgent. (If that was the case we'd have asked Joe to make a brett-infected, dry-hopped, Lagavulin barrel-aged barley wine.) Our answer was based on the often heard wish that there be a few more session beers on our taps. And so it came to pass that a couple of months ago Joe sent down a rigger of a 3.7% pale ale with a hoppy aroma to rival any American IPA. It was good but we had reservations about the body and flavour; after all if making beers in this style was easy everybody would be doing it.

What arrived on our doorstep yesterday was Joe's response, in the form of 80 litres of what we're calling Taranaki Session Beer. The first keg went on tap last night and it's tasting mighty fresh.

Other New Beer

Some rare treats are making their way up from the South Island this week.

First of all we're picking up a couple of rarely seen kegs from the Mussel Inn - The Whit Pig Manuka flavoured wheat beer and Black Boar Dark Manuka Ale.

Secondly, from a body being referred to as "Canterbury Uni Brewers" comes Adlib Pale Ale. We're as curious as you are.


The Baird Brewery just send two pallets of beer on their way to us, including new stock of pretty much all their bottled range. It turns out that it's been a long time between restocks for some of the Baird range. Fortunately beers like Rising Sun Pale Ale and Teikoku IPA mature pretty gracefully, so they're hardly disgracing themselves right now.

Nevertheless we'd like all our previous stock to be gone by the time the new stuff arrives, so we're dropping the price on the handful of beers that are left.

National Days


May we congratulate the Canadians of Wellington that we have got to know recently for their magnificent loyalty to the cause of the Canucks in the Stanley Cup. Our commiserations over the final result.

To help everyone over the loss please come in on July the 1st and enjoy discounts on some of the exquisite Quebec beers we recently acquired.

The Fourth of July

We can now announce our lineup of tap beers for the 4th of July. We're throwing caution to the wind and offering the best set of US beer possible:

  • Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
  • Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA
  • Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale
  • Green Flash Imperial IPA
  • Green Flash Double Stout

These will be available at their usual price, but we'll also offer a $30 ticket that will entitle you to buy a stemmed glass (330ml approx) of each beer.

A Word About Our Importing Programme

For two years we've worked hard to improve the standard of imported beer available in New Zealand. We have developed relationships with breweries overseas rather than go behind their backs and we have (to the best of our knowledge) pioneered the use of refrigerated shipping when bringing craft beer to New Zealand to ensure that it's in great condition and to meet the requirements of the breweries.

We have also tried to coordinate our importing with the export plans of several New Zealand craft breweries by lending them kegs and ensuring that only full kegs make international journeys. Breweries such as Tuatara, Emerson's, Yeastie Boys and 8 Wired have worked with us. In fact at the time of writing a Hashigo Zake keg is dispensing 8 Wired Tall Poppy to drinkers in Copenhagen.

We've also willingly distributed the products we bring in to other outlets. We count certain New World supermarkets, Liquorland outlets, specialist bottle shops such as Regional Wines and Spirits and bars such as Galbraith's, Hallertau, The Hop Garden and Bar Edward among our customers.

But some outlets continue to use the grey market to source other, or in some cases, the same products. The kindest thing we can say about this practice is that it isn't illegal. But it does lead to products appearing on the market in poor condition, damaging the reputation of the breweries and antagonising the brewers themselves. It leads to exasperated reviews such as this. While we spend a great deal of effort convincing breweries that we have a market worth supplying, they hear about grey market imports and get a picture of New Zealand as the wild west of beer markets. This is exactly why, for instance, there is no chance of seeing any officially imported Stone beer in New Zealand for a long, long time.

As we said, none of this breaks any (New Zealand) laws, but please, the next time you see beer from Baird, Nøgne Ø, Mikkeller, Ballast Point, Rogue, Green Flash or Bear Republic in a New Zealand bar, bottle shop or online store, feel free to ask a few questions about how they acquired it, how fresh it is, and whether the brewer of that beer knows that they're selling it.


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