Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 1, 2011

The Return of Ballast Point... The 2011 Santa Session... The 2011 SOBA National Home Brew Competition... Adam Page and the Counts 3/4... Garage Project 22/24... Upcoming Treats... December...

The Return of Ballast Point

San Diego's Ballast Point was too busy with modifications to their brewery to supply us back in July. So when a container-load of fresh San Diego beer arrived last week, the inclusion of four pallets of bottles and kegs from Ballast Point was (probably) the most exciting part. So for the first time in months we have ultra-fresh bottles of Big Eye IPA and Sculpin IPA, with both appearing on tap in the next few weeks too.

For those unfamiliar with these beers, Sculpin is currently the third highest IPA on and, when fresh, is probably closer to a perfect encapsulation of American hop flavours than any other beer for sale in the southern hemisphere. And since our order was shipped direct from the brewery and kept refrigerated the whole time, we can guarantee that our Sculpin is fresh. If you've ever thought that debates over refrigerated shipping and grey market beer were too abstract to matter, come down and try Sculpin!

Now having talked up Sculpin, we should concede that some people prefer Big Eye IPA for it's rounder body and slightly different hopping.

But the good news from our latest shipment doesn't end with Sculpin and Big Eye. Ballast Point have sent our way a number of rare seasonals, albeit in kegs only. So over the coming weeks and months, look out for beers such as Dorado IIPA, Navigator Dopplebock, Brother Levonian Saison, Schooner Fresh Hop, Tongue Buckler, Sour Wench Blackberry Ale and Even Keel Session Ale.

And Coronado have come to the party too. As well as getting fresh stock of Islander IPA and Idiot IIPA, they've also filled our kegs with beers such as Wipeout Wheat and Imperial Stout.

These treats will find their way onto our taps in the coming weeks and months. Look out for some of them appearing in the New Release Tuesday slot after Garage Project's 24/24 finishes this month.

The 2011 SOBA National Home Brew Competition

Last week we were congratulating Dave and Shiggy on their respective showings at Regional Wines and Spirits Beer Options. Over the weekend the results of SOBA's National Home Brew Competition were announced and those same two took out an impressive and excessive number of medals. Not enough to head off the overall champion Zane Smith, but impressive none the less. Another staff member - Dylan Jauslin - also picked up a gold medal for his simplistically named "Good Ale".

Now the rate that gold medals were handed out certainly raised a few eyebrows. If the results are to be believed, New Zealand's homebrewers are making better beer than our commercial brewers. That's not as outrageous as it sounds, since homebrewers' smaller scale lets them make fewer compromises with respect to ingredients and process.

It also suggests that the rate at which New Zealand's leading homebrewers "turn pro" will be maintained or even increased. In fact, consider that a prediction for 2012.

The 2011 Santa Session

Speaking of SOBA, our second ever Santa Session is next week. Now this event is open to everyone, but we also want to treat it as an opportunity to have a Christmas beer with probably our most important customers - Wellington's SOBA members. Hence a whopping 33.3% discount on tickets to SOBA members.

The format is pretty simple :- we pile up case after case of beer whose time we believe has come and chill them and serve them as fast as possible. Attendees can collect a glass, come to our temporary serving station, and have it filled with whichever beer is being poured at the time. You can then came back and get it filled again pretty much as soon as you like.

Anyone who can keep up will probably get a glass of about ten different beers. Value for money shouldn't be an issue.

You can book here. We're limiting this to 50 places and at the time of writing around 30 have been snapped up.

Adam Page and The Counts 3/4

Instalment three of our series of gigs by Adam Page and the Counts is on Saturday at 11pm. Is there a better free gig in Wellington this weekend? Is there a better gig at any price, this weekend?

Garage Project 22/24

After two weeks of re-runs, next week features an all-new beer and it's number 22 in the 24/24 project. The last three are all big beers, next week's being a Wee Heavy. We're promised no more interruptions, with beers 23 and 24 coming along on the 13th and 20th.

As usual, the keg gets tapped at 5pm on Tuesday.

Upcoming Treats

There's a variety of unusual and new (to us) beers coming along in the next few days, and a few old favourites returning. Look out for:

  • More Cassell's beers for the hand pump - Milk Stout, ESB and their Barley Wine.
  • Croucher's Raspberry Bock.
  • Jamieson Brewery's The Beast.
  • Our second keg of the new 8 Wired Wheat Ale known as Haywired.
  • Coronado Idiot IPA.


Being the 1st of December it seems an opportune time to talk about some of the ways that our operations might deviate from the usual over the summer months and the Christmas break. Rest assured that we'll continue to open our door every day at midday with one exception - Christmas Day. Now a stroll along Courtenay Place on Christmas Day, Good Friday or Easter Sunday shows that plenty of businesses find a loophole that lets them open on those days, but if the law says that on three days a year we have to take a holiday, there are other issues more worthy of a fight. But we'll be open again on Boxing Day.

We will be applying NO public holiday surcharges. Again if the law says that people working for a wage on a public holiday have to be remunerated generously, what sort of petty business owner would take out their frustrations on their valued paying customers? We'll also observe the usual conditions of our SOBA discount, so on Boxing Day and New Year's Day (and others) SOBA members can continue to get a large tap beer for the price of a small one.

We'll also continue to observe our advertised closing times. I.e. no earlier than 11pm (and no earlier than 1am on Friday and Saturday nights except on Christmas Eve when we're obliged to close early).

In reality, the only difference that customers should notice during the Christmas/New Year holiday period is a little less competition for seats.

In January of this year we ran what we thought was a pretty amusing survey of what people's favourite beers of 2010 were. We like to think that the 2010 results were a pretty revealing indicator of what craft beers and breweries really shone last year, with an acknowledged bias being run by and for Hashigo Zake. (Yes, when we run a popularity contest, we acknowledge any built-in biases!) So look for the Hashigo Zake Survey of Customers' 2011 Favourites in the New Year.


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