Thursday, August 11, 2011

August 11, 2011

Raising Our Bat... BrewNZ and Beervana... Event Announcement #1 - M!ller's IPA Release... Event Announcement #2 - The Inaugural Pacific Beer Expo... Event Reminder - The Hophead's Picnic... Feral Brewing... The Garage Project Continues... More Bière Québécoise... The Radler Wars..

Raising Our Bat

This is the one hundredth issue of this bulletin. The astute will also recognise this as a sign that our second birthday is looming - we'll have a thorough gloat about that in good time. But for now we'll limit ourselves to reflecting on the role of this little weekly missive.

It's hard to believe that a plain old weekly circular has a place in 2011. This can never have the visual impact of a glossy, printed publication, such as the junk mail that falls out of your newspaper or magazine, imposing on you the need to dispose of it. And electronic communications are supposed to be done with typo-filled 140 character messages on social media. The idea that people such as yourselves have the time and patience to read through to the end of a ten paragraph piece of prose belongs in the mid-20th century.

And yet some of you must be reading this right through, because we often get comments on details hidden deep in the text. And we've even had a spurt in subscriptions in the last week or to. We're up to 276. Not exactly News of the World numbers, but the read counts often exceed the sent count, suggesting some of you are forwarding the email to friends. And we believe the level of literacy and, well, general sophistication of our readers is as high as any subscription-based weekly email spam in the southern hemisphere, making any one of you worth ten of other non-subscribing citizens.

Or to put this another way, thanks for subscribing.

BrewNZ and Beervana

The busiest week in the calendar for New Zealand's craft brewing industry is over and beer geeks and brewers are drifting back to their workplaces and homes around the country. Most will be pretty satisfied - perhaps for no reason other than the high level of media exposure the industry received over the last week, some of it actually not at all sniggering and condescending.

Surely the week's biggest winner was Søren Eriksen. How must it feel to win an award last won by DB? Early last week when we launched his new Belgian Quadruple, Sultan, Søren revealed that he now sells a lot more beer overseas than in New Zealand. It's as if 8 Wired are reliving the classic New Zealand experience - modest local sales followed by foreign success then eventual recognition at home. Regardless we at Hashigo Zake are rapt about his triumph.

But it was great to see regular suppliers of Hashigo Zake dominating the trophies and medals more than last year - particularly Emerson's, Renaissance, Yeastie Boys, Liberty, Townshend, Sprig and Fern, Cock and Bull, Tuatara and Epic.

The afternoon after the awards came session one of the re-imagined Beervana. The new owner, David Cryer, took a lot of risks buying the right to stage the event and making many crucial changes, including a move to a venue that was, at least superficially, far less hospitable. To come through with increased ticket sales and a lot of satisfied customers is little short of a triumph. Like many of you, we have strong reservations about certain changes, but the 1000% improvement in the quality of the food probably outweighs those.

We chose to support the event by advertising in the programme and providing duty managers to some of the bars. This created a massive burden for our staff who racked up a lot of hours last week. While it's not appropriate to brag about our own staff here, let's say that their skill, professionalism and stamina has been noticed.

Event Announcement #1 - M!ller's IPA Release

Award winning brewer (as of last week) Joseph Wood, of Liberty Brewing, has been more excited about his next release than any beer we've previously heard him talk about. And this is saying something. In fact he is so enthusiastic about M!ller's IPA that he insists on being present at the release. This would be fine except that his day job puts constraints on his opportunities to come to Wellington and he says that Friday August the 19th has to be it.

Joe has been planning this for some time but was waiting for some very specific ingredients. The concept is to take the recipe for the world's most famous Imperial IPA - Pliny the Elder - and produce two beers based on it. The difference between the beers will be the origin of one of the ingredients.

As mentioned, Joe will be on hand and expects to listen while Wellington's most experienced beer drinkers try to tell what separates the two versions.

Now M!ller's IPA is named in homage to one of this email's most devoted readers - Neil Miller. To be fair, Neil has other claims to fame, such as being New Zealand's most outspoken advocate of the gratuitous addition of hops to otherwise perfectly balanced beers. In fact it's surprising that he hasn't trademarked the slogan "needs more hops". We trust that regardless of the homage Joe is paying him, the mere aroma of these beers will draw Neil down on the night.

Event Announcement #2 - The Inaugural Pacific Beer Expo

Beervana rightly emphasises the Australasian brewing scene with a goal of including every New Zealand brewery. But we think that imported craft beer is important to New Zealand's drinkers, home brewers and commercial brewers. And since we happen to be the importer of a good number of beers from the US, Japan and Australia as well as being fans of many great New Zealand breweries we have decided to stage the Pacific Beer Expo as a showcase of the very best craft beer from the Pacific rim.

The inaugural event will take place on the Saturday and Sunday of Labour weekend. That is finals weekend for the Rugby World Cup. The sessions will finish two hours before kick-off of the 3rd/4th playoff game on the Saturday and the grand final on the Sunday.

The venue will be the Boatshed. For those familiar with SOBA's Matariki festival, which is at the same venue, imagine an event on a similar scale, but over two days instead of one, and with a lineup of beers that will make your head spin.

The lineup will be the absolute pick of everything that has been available to us over the last year. For instance we have a single keg of Baird's West Coast Wheat Wine and their Kiwi Strong Pale Ale. And we held back one of our kegs of Ballast Point's Victory at Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter. From our upcoming shipment of Feral Beer, we'll be holding back the one and only keg of Barrel-fermented Hop Hog. There will also be the most dazzling array of American hop-bombs ever seen in this part of the world. Meanwhile we're in discussions with a number of local breweries about what we might source from them - be it a keg of something famous or a one-off.

Tickets for the event will be available from the bar or from in September.

Event Reminder - The Hophead's Picnic

In the aftermath of Beervana we think that it's important that dedicated beer geeks don't allow blood to pollute their hopstream. And since we started bringing in Californian beer at the end of last year we've never actually built a tasting around any of these beers. That's why next Tuesday we're holding the Hophead's Picnic 2011 - California Edition. Details are at

Feral Brewing

A member of our staff was on Beervana's Australian bar for much of the festival and we know that West Australia's Feral Brewing made a big impression on many attendees. This wasn't a surprise to us. The brewery regularly comes out on top in competitions and those of us who have visited the brewpub in the Swan Valley can vouch for the extraordinary quality of the whole range. So we've been negotiating with the brewery to send us some beer for months. And the resulting order will reach our warehouse tomorrow (Friday).

As it happens our role with Beervana gave us the chance to acquire any Feral beer that was unconsumed during the festival, so we now have a respectable stockpile of beer from them.

So look out for the extraordinary Hop Hog IPA making its first appearance here over the next week, with more from the Feral range appearing too. We also picked up a stock of Stone and Wood Pacific Ale, Little Creatures Pale Ale and a very small amount of Murray's Icon 2IPA so look out for those too.

The Garage Project Continues

Beers four and five of the Garage Project's 24/24 project came on this week. We expect the embryonic brewery to settle into a one beer per week schedule soon, but next week will see beers six and seven released. They come as a pair because they've been brewed with an event in mind. That event is outlined here. To truly understand the event and the beers it helps to have a grasp of local graphic novels, steampunk and the work of Greg Broadmore.

But we won't play the role of popular culture documenter today. We'll simply say that on the same day that Dr Groadbort and Funky Food at the Roxy takes place, we'll also be serving these two beers:

  • Lord Cockswain’s Courage - a 6% robust porter with blackstrap molasses, fermented with abbey ale yeast and conditioned on high toast American oak chips.
  • Venusian Pale Ale – a 7% pale ale made with citric US hops and every citrus-related adjunct Pete could get his hands on, including kaffir lime, lemon grass, grapefruit peal, coriander and galangal. Actually it sounds more like a Thai green curry than a beer, but today's out-of-control experiment could be tomorrow's Rex Attitude.

More Bière Québécoise

Soon - probably next Monday - we'll top up our bottle stock from several Quebec breweries. In particular, look out for:

  • The long awaited return of Dieu du Ciel Route des Épices.
  • Two more beers from les Trois Mousquetaires - brewers of the fabulous Baltic Porter that we've been gushing over for the last couple of months. This time we're getting their Dopplebock and Weizenbock.
  • St Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale from McAuslan.

The Radler Wars

The legal fight may be over for now, but many of us will take every opportunity we can to mock to DB's misuse of intellectual property law. This week though the fight turned ugly. Our underground premises rely on a pump to make all sewerage and drainage work. They stopped working late on Tuesday because a beer bottle had been dropped into the vent that lets air into the pump. The beer brand... Monteiths.


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