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.


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