Thursday, February 23, 2012

February 23, 2012

Øwesome Launch... Sour Wench... Growler Howler 2 - The Bomber... Jed Soane Exhibition... SOBA Membership... Price Rises... Good News... On Tap Now...

Øwesome Launch

We thank those who came out on the most humid night of the year to help launch a big, warming beer in Ø For Awesome on Tuesday. The beer itself more than lived up to our expectations. We also received some generous bids in the silent auction of three bottles of Garage Project/Nøgne Ø Summer/Sommer Collab. That auction and sales of Ø For Awesome raised about $1400 that will be donated to the Red Cross's Christchurch Earthquake Appeal.

Most of the batch of Ø For Awesome that 8 Wired, Renaissance and Nøgne Ø brewed is still sitting in a tank in Blenheim and will be bottled and kegged in the coming week or two. Enough of it was brewed that you can expect to see it in a number of bars, supermarkets and bottle stores. A pallet-load will be heading to Norway too.

Sour Wench

Next week's new release is Ballast Point's Sour Wench, a wheat beer soured with liberal doses of blackberry. It's new to us but a little while ago we sold a keg of it to Auckland's Hallertau, where some customers were somewhat surprised when the sour beer they bought turned out to be sour. So please be warned, we expect this to be mouth puckeringly sour.

To find out just how sour, come along at 5pm on Tuesday. And come along and find out whether we can think of a celebrity whose likeness seems appropriate for the tap badge.

Growler Howler 2 - The Bomber

As mentioned a few weeks ago, it has emerged that Hancock's are attempting to trademark the use of the word Growler, even though it is reasonably well known as the North American equivalent of flagon. We can only hope that with the alarm raised, someone at IPONZ will notice the howls of outrage and reject the application.

It's too late though for Bomber. Nelson's "660 Main Road Stoke Limited" - i.e. the brewers of Stoke beer - have got in and trademarked that, in spite of, or perhaps because of its use in North America to describe a 22oz bottle. (Details here.) Yes we know Stoke have a beer called Bomber, but this trademark specifically applies to bottles, not beer.

In the 1980s the Mac's Brewery, then owned by the same McCashin family that makes Stoke, famously had to resort to using New Zealand's ugliest beer bottles because ABC bottlers, owned by Lion and DB, wouldn't supply them. Perhaps this intellectual property grab is their attempt to balance that injustice.

So another participant in New Zealand's brewing industry joins the Intellectual Property Hall of Shame. Here's that list in case you've forgotten (new nominations welcome):

  • Monteiths/DB/Asia Pacific Breweries/Heineken for Radler
  • Hancocks for Growler
  • McCashin/Stoke for Bomber

And while we're mocking a brewery or two... we're all for collaborations between local breweries and overseas stars of the craft brewing world - well obviously, since we help set them up - but isn't Boundary Road's plea for foreign help just a little desperate? A longer version was sent to 8000 members of the US Brewers Association. You would think that their corporate bosses at Asahi in Japan could lend them a brewing genius for a month - perhaps the one who came up with Style Free?

Jed Soane Photo Exhibition

Wellington's Jed Soane has spent several years developing his photographic career and making it his mission to document New Zealand's brewing industry on film. As well as doing New Zealand craft brewing a huge favour, he's helped us out by coming along to the two collaborative brews that our friend Kjetil Jikiun participated in while in New Zealand (see here and here).

He also came and took an exhibition's worth of photos of our own venue, and they're on display here.

Jed has a chance to develop his craft by attending an event in Perth that is described at his website. To help get there he'd like to sell a few photos. We thought it would be fitting to stage a little exhibition to help that happen. It will open in our own Red Room (the red-painted area to the left of the stairs) on Monday March 5th. Everything on display will be for sale.

SOBA Membership

The Society of Beer Advocates have released version 3 of their membership application process, and this may be the best ever. We have at the bar documents that are both membership application forms and temporary membership cards. You can apply here, leave the form and your $30 cash (we can let you get cash out from EFTPOS if need be) and take away a temporary card with your name and membership number on it. Your final membership card will be issued and forwarded to you with the ruthless efficiency of an incorporated society staffed by volunteers.

Price Rises

It's as if a week can't go by without:

  • an abuse of intellectual property law, and
  • a scare from the Hospitality Association about the price of beer.

Just a few weeks ago the industry body of which we are a member warned that raising the minimum wage would cause prices to rise. This week they said that Lion and DB's price rises would similarly cause across-the-board price rises.

We'll say now what we said then: there are many factors that might cause us to raise (or lower!) our prices - but as with the minimum wage, the prices set by Lion and DB are not among them.

In fact we wonder whether the Hospitality Association temporarily forgot their free market principles when they questioned the breweries' rights to set their own prices. Perhaps, on reflection, this is what the body's reaction should have been.

Good News

After being frustrated for years by the fickleness of our ADSL internet connection, we've been talking to an infrastructure provider about getting something a bit more fit for purpose. There have been months of delays and discussions followed by the excavation last weekend of a trench outside our door. Now we're close to getting a solution that may actually have been state of the art some time in the last twelve or so years.

If our suppliers' promises are valid, we may soon have internet access that even Steven Fry would approve of.

On Tap Now

A few of the current tap lineup deserve comment:

  • Coronado Wipeout Wheat is a great example of an American wheat ale. It has none of the flamboyant yeast-inspired flavours and aromas of a witbier or weissbier, but is instead noticeably bitter, with the wheat contributing tartness and texture.
  • Emerson's North By North is the latest in their Brewer's Reserve series. Named after a song on the great Bats album Daddy's Highway, this is a pilsner made with 100% Czech ingredients (except the water).
  • Ø For Awesome is still on tap.
  • Brewaucracy Honest Labour, a moderate strength blonde ale is still on. It's a far cry from Brewaucracy's earlier, highly spiced output.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

February 16, 2012

Thanks... Ø For Awesome... Nogne-O and Mikkeller... Brouwerij De Molen... Upcoming Treats... Finally...


It's extremely important to thank those who do us a favour, so our first duty this week is to thank Dylan and Hayley, who came in and staffed the bar on Monday so the full Hashigo Zake roster could go out and celebrate Christmas 2011. Interestingly this is the earliest date yet that we've got to hold a staff Xmas do.

In the unlikely event that any customers were inconvenienced by being served by our irregular staff that night, we apologise.

Ø For Awesome

Plans are racing ahead for Tuesday's launch of Ø For Awesome, the collaborative beer hatched by Renaissance, 8 Wired and Nøgne Ø's Kjetil Jikiun when we brought him to New Zealand late last year.

Since the launch date is 364 days after a certain civil defence emergency the first two kegs are being donated by the brewers and all proceeds from the sale of their contents will go to the Red Cross's ongoing work in the Canterbury region.

Garage Project are coming to the party too. A small amount of their collaboration with Nøgne Ø (Summer Sommer) has been bottled and we'll be auctioning these bottles off to the highest bidders. Just ask at the bar to enter your bid for a bottle.

A video documenting the brew day has been shot and edited by our own Dylan Jauslin. At the time of writing it's being uploaded to youtube and should soon be available to view here.

Nøgne Ø and Mikkeller

Earlier this week we took delivery of large orders of beer from these two giants of Scandinavian craft brewing. The contents are making their way into our fridges at this moment. There are some pretty exciting beers among them.

Brouwerij De Molen

We got a pleasant surprise yesterday when Dave Waugh of local beer importer Malz & Hopfen mentioned that he has come to an agreement with the Netherland's Brouwerij de Molen to bring their beer to New Zealand. In the past we've stocked de Molen's collaboration with Mikkeller and have also got to taste one or two bottles that were brought in the suitcases of friends returning from Europe, so we know how good their beer is.

It's also great to see another importer importing the "right way" - i.e. with the approval of the brewery and without having the beer go through extra sets of hands.

Upcoming Treats

A few welcome returnees:

  • Beastwars
  • Big Eye
  • Brew Moon Dark Side Stout
  • Cassel's Milk Stout
  • TPA
  • Orange Avenue Wit
  • Lots of Renaissance beers

Something new - Brewaucracy (Punkin Image, Bean Counter) have sent us what they're describing as a "lawnmower beer". It's called Honest Labour and knowing Greig McGill's fundamentalist libertarian leanings it's interesting to ponder whether the name is sincere or sarcastic. The beer itself is designed to be refreshing, using pale English and German malts and even some wheat malt, and Czech Saaz hops and weighing in at a modest 4.2% ABV.

A few notable or even sensational offerings remain on tap for a little longer:

  • This week's new release - Ballast Point Tongue Buckler - a massive Imperial Red Ale.
  • Three Boys Pineapple Lump Porter
  • Liberty West Coast Blonde Ale - Amarillo Edition


We're sending a strike team of bar staff and a truck full of beer to Christchurch next week for the Great Kiwi Beer Festival. If you have friends or family there who might like to try the kinds of products that we take for granted here at HZ, be sure to suggest that they visit the "World of Beer Marquee".

Thursday, February 9, 2012

February 9, 2012

Ø For Awesome... Baird News... Mikkeller Order... Super Ad... Tongue Buckler... Price Rises...

Ø For Awesome

The second beer to come out of last year's visit to New Zealand by Nøgne Ø's Kjetil Jikiun is ready for release. It's a collaboration brewed at Renaissance by Kjetil, Renaissance themselves and their staff-member and "tenant" 8 Wired.

The idea for the beer was to take the Nøgne Ø beer known as #100 and replace most of the ingredients with New Zealand alternatives. For those who haven't tried it, #100 is a difficult beer to categorise, falling somewhere between an Imperial IPA and a barley wine. The result is to be called Ø For Awesome.

The first brew day was documented photographically by the great Jed Soane here. There were a lot fewer present on day two when Søren re-brewed to double the batch size.

We're going to launch it here at Hashigo Zake on February 21st. As well as falling neatly into our calendar of Tuesday releases, it happens to be the eve of the anniversary of a certain earthquake. Søren has proposed that we use the event as some kind of fund-raiser, so does anyone really need another reason to come down?

By then we should also have received our latest order from Nøgne Ø. It's working its way through the bureaucratic and logistic obstacles that appear when multiple pallets of beer turn up at a New Zealand wharf. We're hoping to see it finally next week. Included will be bottles of a beer called India Saison, made in collaboration with Australia's Bridge Road brewery. It's a saison brewed with Australian hops, such as Galaxy and Stella. We have the version of the beer made when Bridge Road's Ben Kraus visited Nøgne Ø. We've heard that some bars in Melbourne are serving the second batch, made back at Bridge Road. We've also heard that it's delicious.

Meanwhile, our attention was brought to a disarmingly candid description of the brewery's early days written by Kjetil himself. It's surprising how difficult times have been for a business that from the outside seems like an unqualified success. Read it here.

Baird Beer

Our stocks of beer from our favourite Asian brewery - Baird - are running low, so another order has gone in and should be on the water soon. The Baird brewery are busy - after rumours flew around for months they recently announced plans to build a brand new brewery and they're doing nothing by halves. A few details are embedded in this account of their new year party.

Mikkeller Order

We're also waiting patiently for an order of fresh Mikkeller beer to arrive and we're told we'll be seeing them next week too. The main highlight will be the return of the Single Hop IPA beers - ten of them. We'll get some of the bottles in stock as soon as possible and some time in the near future we'll try and find a way to slot the kegs into our packed schedule.

We're also getting just a couple more cases of the Chateau d'Yquem barrel aged Belgian ale known as Mielcke & Hurtigkarl.

Super Ad

It was great to see a healthy and hungry crowd in on Monday to take in the Super Bowl and the two rival chillis. Sadly the local broadcaster somehow stripped us of the opportunity to see this seminal example of the TV commercial maker's art.

Tongue Buckler

Next week's new release is an import, courtesy of San Diego's great Ballast Point. It's Tongue Buckler, and we have just a few kegs of a beer described as an Imperial Red Ale. It should be a perfect sequel to this week's Liberty Yakima Scarlet, which proved very popular and will be back in limited quantities again soon.

Tongue Buckler will be on tap from 5pm on Tuesday.

Price Rises

According to a press release by the Hospitality Association yesterday's rise in the minimum wage "will result in price increases across the board for hospitality products". We'd like to reassure customers that while we face plenty of significant cost increases (such as a near doubling in our insurance premiums), a rise in the minimum wage does not trouble us. But wouldn't you think that businesses that need an act of parliament to get them to pay more than $13 per hour would keep a low profile?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

February 2, 2012

ParrotDog... Yakima Scarlet... Foreign Approval... Growler Howler... This Long Weekend... A Few Teasers... Fine Dining... On Tap Soon... Other News...


Unsurprisingly a big crowd turned up on Tuesday for the launch of ParrotDog's new beer - FlaxenFeather. There was even a pleasing turnout from some key figures in businesses like Tuatara Brewery, The Fork and Brewer and LBQ.

Those present not only got to try a pretty pleasant new golden ale, they witnessed the official announcement of one of Wellington's worst kept secrets: ParrotDog are building a new brewery in downtown Wellington.

In a few months time beers like BitterBitch, Bloodhound and FlaxenFeather will no longer be brewed under contract at Mike's and will instead be brewed in lower Vivian Street. The Matts have taken on a six year lease and ordered a 2500 litre brewery from China.

For years many speculated about why there were no breweries in Wellington city. It seems that there never was a good reason not to put a brewery in Wellington city, and ParrotDog, Garage Project and, perhaps one day, the Fork and Brewer are going to show us what we were missing out on all these years.

ParrotDog have pulled of a coup by stitching together the funding to let them take this audacious step into full-time brewing. Starting a week into the Year of the Dragon seems fitting. We have great expectations.

Yakima Scarlet

Next week's new release will be Liberty Yakima Scarlet. It's a Red IPA, or perhaps an American Red Ale, depending how you prefer to construct labels for contemporary beer styles. In other words it's a 6.5% ale with a complex and rich malt bill and hopped like a new world IPA.

The last time we had a completely new release from Liberty was the launch of M!ller's IPA, which was one of the busiest nights ever at Hashigo Zake.

Coming down from New Plymouth at the same time will be the latest in this summer's series of the West Coast Blonde Ales. This time it will be Amarillo - for many of us the only one even nicer than Simcoe last year.

Foreign Approval

We have theorised before that 8 Wired brewing started doing much better on once the brewery started exporting. Not because exporting somehow made the beer better, but because beer geeks in New Zealand are either less frequent or harsher judges of beer.

Last week ratebeer released their annual summary of the previous year's ratings and it may have reinforced that impression. Because 8 Wired, who now export more beer than they sell domestically, have broken new ground for a New Zealand brewery. To the best of our knowledge they are the first New Zealand brewery to break into the worldwide top 100 and they dominated the Australasian top 50.

A glance at that top 50 shows some pretty good returns for Epic, Yeastie Boys and Renaissance, who are sending plenty of beer offshore too.

Growler Howler

While DB's trademarking of "Radler" remains the most notorious abuse of intellectual property law in the beer world as we know it, other cases pop up now and then. One of our informants has put us on to a shocker from none other than Hancock's, the local liquor distributor, owner of Glengarry's outlets and supplier of a handful of products (for now) to us. They are currently attempting to trademark Growler - the North American term for flagon or rigger.

The not-so-funny part of this is that if IPONZ are blissfully unaware that there are plenty of us around who know and maybe even use this term - just as they insist no-one in New Zealand knew what a radler was - they may just accept the application. And then someone sufficiently outraged will have to cough up $300 to correct a government department. On the usage of growler. The mind boggles.

But what we'd like to ask Hancocks is: why would a company try to take ownership of a term that they didn't invent?

Anyone curious can search for trade mark application 851281 at the IPONZ website. And while you're there, patent number 519778 is kind of interesting too.

This Long Weekend

This is our third Wellington Sevens since opening in 2009. In the days before the last two events we've exhorted our regular customers to take no notice of everything else going on in downtown Wellington, and just come down like it was a normal Friday or Saturday. Frankly it's made little difference - slightly fewer regular customers come in, we gain a few irregular ones (and keep a nervous eye on them) and at the end of the night we wonder what the fuss was about.

So our message now is: everyone do whatever you like. We'll truck along as normal and look forward to Monday.

Because on that day, which happens to be Waitangi Day, we get to put a few pretty special American beers on tap, slow cook a couple of enormous pots of chilli and screen the Super Bowl without worrying about whether the next customer is coordinated, coherent and clothed. It's actually a kind of therapy for us.

Now we've had a couple of requests to reserve tables during Monday afternoon. It shouldn't be that busy, but just in case, we'll accept a limited number of table bookings from the time this email is sent.

And in case anyone is in any doubt, we won't be applying any kind of public holiday surcharge on Waitangi Day.

A Few Teasers

It's been a month or two since we received a significant shipment from overseas and a couple of the shelves at Hashigo Zake aren't looking quite as overloaded with exotic goodies as usual. So here are a few hints about what's going to arrive soon.

  • More Mikkeller! When we put Texas Ranger on tap it was such a success that we're investing in more of this in bottles and kegs of this chipotle pepper infused porter. In fact we're securing enough Texas Ranger bottles to sell a few on to selected bottle stores and supermarkets.

    We're also going for broke and getting a keg of every beer in the Mikkeller Single Hop IPA range. Some time in the next month or so, look out for a succession of these beers, which will include Simcoe, Sorachi Ace, Citra and Nelson Sauvin, among others. We admit that importing hoppy IPAs like these is risky, but these beers are guaranteed to be fresh and have been kept refrigerated for the bulk of their trip from Western Europe.

    Look out too for a couple more cases of the Chateau d'Yquem barrel-aged Belgian ale called Mielcke & Hurtigkarl.

  • A new shipment from Nøgne Ø will be with us soon too. Once it's here supplies of beers like their Citra IPA and Imperial Stout should last for months.

  • More Californian beer:- a big shipment with enough of the spectacular Ballast Point IPAs (Big Eye and Sculpin) to last for... well weeks. We'll also have a couple of new beers from Green Flash, including Rayon Vert - a brettanomyces influenced Belgian pale ale. This shipment is still a way off and may not be with us until late March.

Fine Dining

There remain available places for our first dining event of the year - a five course pairing of dishes from five Asian countries with different beers. It takes place on Sunday (yes, Sunday!) February 12 at 6pm. Bookings can be made at the bar or here.

On Tap Soon

Look out for:

  • A showdown of some of the New Zealand IPAs that came out in 2011 - Yeastie Boys Digital IPA on handpump, Mike's Taranaki Pale Ale and Hallertau Beastwars IPA.
  • Croucher's new IPA made with, of all things, Australian Galaxy Hops.
  • Bear Republic's great dopplebock - Carburator.
  • A rare treat straight from Emerson's. This one depends on freight from the deep south and with the long weekend coming up we don't want to make too many promises. But keep an eye on the online menu for an Emerson's beer that isn't normally available on tap.

And did we mention that Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout and Green Flash Le Freak are on tap right now?

Other News

Yesterday, in our capacity as a distributor of American craft beer, Hashigo Zake became a paid up member of the American Brewers Association! Among various benefits we should start receiving the association's own periodical that we'll make available to regular customers along with other magazines.

Late last week we took customer contributions, topped them up with our own money and made a $US125 donation to the production costs of the Beer Hunter movie. Thanks to donations like this the fund raising exceeded its goal, as described here.