Thursday, March 29, 2012

March 29, 2012

Citrafest... Next Tuesday... California Tasting... Hallertau... Drum Roll, Please... On Tap Now or Soon...


Tomorrow (Friday) is Citrafest, our celebration of the amazing, hoppy beers that have come our way recently and that rely on the Citra hop. From 3pm we'll dedicate no fewer than four taps to these beers:

  • Liberty West Coast Blonde Citra
  • Nøgne Ø Citra IPA
  • Mikkeller Citra IPA
  • Liberty C!tra Imperial IPA

There are a couple of components to this little festival that give us reason to be anxious. One is that the Liberty West Coast Blonde Citra is so fresh that it's still on the way from the brewery. The other is that there are quite limited volumes of two of these - the Mikkeller Citra IPA and the Liberty C!tra IIPA. We considered severe measures like ration cards and iris scanning to control consumption. But we'll settle for insisting on small servings only and a nice early start to give an advantage to enthusiasts. And to those with nothing better to do.

The good news is that Liberty C!tra, possibly the most sought after beer in New Zealand at the moment, is also in stock in bottles. If and when the keg of C!tra runs out we'll offer a discount on those 750ml bottles.

Next Tuesday

New Release Tuesday takes no break and is back next week with two Mikkeller beers that should be nicely unfamiliar to most of us.

First is Ris a la m'Ale. Odd name? Obviously it's a play on Ris a la Mande. Ris a la Mande or Risalamande is a traditional Danish dessert made with rice, chopped almonds, whipped cream and a cherry sauce. Clearly this dessert is begging to be re-interpreted as a beer, which is what Mikkel Borg Bjergsø of Mikkeller has set out to do with Ris a la m'Ale.

This beer has, apparently, used all the key ingredients of the dessert - rice, vanilla, sugar, salt, cream, cherries and almond extract.

The Mikkeller Citra IPA we're enjoying this Friday is but one from Mikkeller's series of Single Hop IPAs. Not all of them are made with as well known and fashionable hops as Citra. So this week we're putting on Mikkeller Apollo Single Hop IPA. According to the US Hops Variety Manual, Apollo is:

a super high alpha variety that was developed by the Hopsteiner Breeding Program and released in 2006... The very high alpha, good storage stability and low cohumulone ratio makes it an excellent choice for bittering. Added late into the boil it provides a strong grapefruit and hoppy note.

California Tasting

Our first formal tasting of the year takes place on April 11. It's a chance to try all the new beers coming in our imminent shipment of Californian beer. We're experimenting with having this on a Wednesday since our programme of New Releases really now owns Tuesdays.

Details are here, along with a chance to book.


We just took delivery of a pallet load of beer from one of Auckland's fine brewpubs, Hallertau. This means that on tap now or soon will be Luxe (a rare thing being a Kölsch that we like), Statesman Pale Ale, Stuntman Imperial IPA and, yes, Beastwars IPA. There are also a couple of rare goodies that we'll save for a really special occasion.

Drum Roll, Please

Back in the closing months of the first decade of the 21st century when we opened, Oregon brewery Rogue was an important supplier for us. They provided some of the most adventurous beers we stocked and many of those beers remain favourites for staff and customers. Back then we were picking up stock via Australia at great expense. Eventually we started receiving shipments directly but complications meant we still weren't in complete control of what came and when.

Hopefully all these hassles are a thing of the past though because our biggest ever order is being assembled at the brewery and will be steaming our way soon. Yellow Snow will be on tap again. As will Dead Guy and Brutal IPA and, for the first time, Chipotle Ale. And those white ceramic bottles of Morimoto Imperial Pilsner will be back.

And in the name of research and thoroughness, we've asked the brewery to throw in a case of Dead Guy Whiskey.

It will also be time we came down hard on those seemingly unwilling or incapable of telling the difference in spelling between Rogue and Rouge. You know who you.... or... no, you probably don't know who you are.

On Tap Now or Soon

This week's Tuesdays releases, Coronado's Nado Nectar and Stoopid Stout, drew some interesting responses, particularly the extremely fruity Nectar which really seemed to divide people. At the time of writing both beers remain on tap, but possibly not for much longer.

While this Friday's Liberty West Coast Blonde Citra will be the focus of attention on Friday, we're sneaking in a keg of another from the West Coast Blonde series - Amarillo.

And there should be a space for another keg of Emerson's Clean Sweep Pale Ale.

And if things go according to plan we'll sneak in a keg of Nøgne Ø Saison.


Stay tuned for more information about an event you won't want to miss on Saturday April 21st.

Friday, March 23, 2012

March 22, 2012

Incoming... Tastings... Next Tuesday... Next Friday... On Tap Now or Soon...


Anticipation is building over a couple of brand new import orders arriving over the next week or so. First of all we're expecting fresh beer from Asia's greatest brewery, Baird, very soon. This shipment is all about bottled beer. We're replenishing our stock of Baird's core range and picking up four recent seasonals.

Those seasonals are Pacific Century Citrus IPA, a citrus juice-infused IPA that we've had before, Morning Coffee Stout, Four Sisters Spring Bock and Ganko Oyaji Barley Wine.

We hope to resume buying kegged beer from Baird some time in the near future when they start filling key kegs - the kind of single use kegs used widely in Europe.

A week or so later our latest Californian shipment arrives and relief will be at hand for hop-junkies. And not just at Hashigo Zake but around the country at the growing number of supermarkets and bottle stores piggy-backing off our import orders. This shipment will restore bottle stocks of beer from Green Flash, Bear Republic, Moylan's and Ballast Point. There will be some kegged beer too from Moylan's and Green Flash.

Making its New Zealand début will be a new year-round beer from Green Flash called Rayon Vert. It's a Belgian Pale Ale that is bottle-condition using brettanomyces. It's thought to be the first time that a "brett-beer" has been made on such a scale before. The result is getting rave reviews in the US.

We'll also have bottles from another Californian brewery - Left Coast. We'll be getting four of their range (Trestles IPA, Hop Juice IIPA, Voodoo Stout and Wedge Black IPA) in some of the best looking, screen-printed bombers ever to hold beer.


We've been letting our tasting programme take a back seat so far in 2012, while we enjoy the habit that New Release Tuesday has turned into. But it's high time we resumed structured tastings around a brewery or theme in the manner that has usually proven popular over the previous two and a half years.

So on April 11 we're planning a tasting of New California Beers. That is, beers that are new to us. In that category are a couple of Moylan's beers, the whole Left Coast range and the aforementioned Green Flash Rayon Vert.

More details next week.

Next Tuesday

We're following this week's Ballast Point Double Header with a pair of new Coronado beers - Stoopid Stout and Nado Nectar. Stoopid Stout is a massive 9.3% Imperial Stout. Nado Nectar is a strong witbier, which we can have high expectations of given how good Coronado's year round Orange Avenue Witbier is.

As usual these two go on tap at 5pm on Tuesday.

Next Friday

Citra-fest is just over a week away - our homage to what may be the most fashionable hop in brewing today. From 3pm on Friday March 30 we'll be serving Liberty West Coast Blonde - Citra, Nøgne Ø Citra IPA, Mikkeller Single Hop Citra IPA and Liberty C!tra Imperial IPA. Note that we've set the starting time at 3pm to head off any chaos due to the fact we only have 20 litres of the Liberty C!tra. Remember though that if our keg of C!tra runs out we will have bottles available.

On Tap Now or Soon

At the time of writing there remains about half a keg of Mikkeller Texas Ranger on tap.

For something a little different from the usual we'll soon have Mussel Inn Captain Cooker on a hand pump.

Maybe it's adjunct week, because the first of our allocated two kegs of Brewaucracy Bean Counter, a vanilla bean-infused porter, will come on any day.

And we've another keg of Invercargill Boysenbeery. Yesterday the Southland Times ran this rather glowing profile of Invercargill Brewery.

There will be more of last Friday's big success, Emerson's Clean Sweep, and another seasonal pale ale from Emerson's - Bird Dog.

And anyone feeling the need for a hop bomb from the west coast of the US can look out for Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, Green Flash Hop Head Red or even the returning Tuatara American Pale Ale.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

March 15, 2012

St Patrick's Day... New Release Tuesday... Emerson's Clean Sweep... The WiFi... Citra-fest... Growler Howler 3 - The Explanation... Returning Friends... And Finally...

St Patrick's Day

We like nothing better than helping expats of various countries celebrate cultural or sporting dates of significance from their home country, especially when those events go more or less un-observed by the rest of the community. But when celebrations of a milestone such as St Patrick's Day have obviously jumped the shark, forgive us for not feeling the love.

We have as much fondness for Ireland and its people as a passport-carrying citizen can but we hereby declare ourselves a haven from St Patrick's Day shenanigans. Anyone wanting a quality stout on Saturday is welcome to come and sample from New Zealand's best range of Imperial Stouts, but it won't include Guinness, we won't be putting up green bunting and we won't be playing the Riverdance soundtrack. We also promise that you won't be tripping over comatose bodies, trying to talk over the top of a bad rendition of Whisky in the Jar or bumping into fake leprechauns in felt hats. In fact, as depicted, Galbraith's put it quite well last year.

New Release Tuesday

Next week we have a double header. Firstly there's Brother Levonian Saison. We acquired a couple of kegs of this beer before finding out the back-story, which we now have thanks to the Interwebbing. It seems Dave Levonian was a popular San Diego home brewer and after his premature death both Ballast Point and Port Brewing have been brewing Saisons in his honour and to raise money for his daughter's college fund. So it's beer with a cause, albeit a cause particular to a different community from ours.

We'll make a second foray into our stocks of Ballast Point seasonals and bring out Navigator Dopplebock. In this era of aggressively hopped beers, the crowd-pleasing style of dopplebock seems to suffer a little. We expect this beer to help bring malt back into vogue.

Both will come on tap at 5pm on Tuesday.

Emerson's Clean Sweep

For years we've heard whispers that in addition to their year-round beers and their monthly Brewer's Reserve releases, Emerson's occasionally brew other, more experimental beers. Maybe the rumours are true because a couple of kegs just showed up on our doorstep with very little fanfare and none of the usual notes on the Emerson's website or facebook page.

Careful study of our inbox tell us that these kegs are Clean Sweep, a beer apparently brewed when Emerson's staff came back from holiday at the start of the year and needed a yeast starter for the rest of their brewing programme. They also took this starter beer as a chance to test various techniques such as wort hopping, dry hopping, using a hopback and keg conditioning. And large volumes of NZ Cascade hops were sacrificed in the name of science.

The beer's name is both a reference to the fact that it was a new year brew and a homage to world champion rowers Hamish Bond and Eric Murray.

Being keg conditioned it has come with advice and warnings from the brewery. We're under instructions to vent the kegs of CO2 before serving, but if this doesn't work serving Clean Sweep could be a battle. But it will be in the name of science.

Also look out some time soon for a re-brew of last year's Bird-Dog. As with Clean Sweep Emerson's have put their new hop-back to use. They've also beefed up the hops using NZ Cascade, NZ Pacific Gem, NZ Hallertau, US Simcoe, US Citra. Yes, Citra - the hop of the moment. See below!

The Wifi

We finally cut over to our shiny new internet-over-fibre connection last Friday. Since then the music hasn't cut out once and we've had anecdotal reports of significantly improved performance and reliability when surfing the web. We've also upgraded our wireless router and got rid of the cordless phone that jammed the WiFi signal!

While our previous broadband supplier will go un-named in case our disdain for them spills over into something libellous, we can reveal who our new suppliers are. Our physical connection (i.e. the fibre) is courtesy of CityLink and our new ISP is Modica. The latter are so confident about their service that they insist that we tell the world about them.


According to Wikipedia (which, like, is infallible) Citra is "a dual-purpose hop released in 2007 by the Hop Breeding Company. It is a cross of Hallertauer Mittelfruh, U.S. Tettnanger, East Kent Golding, Bavarian, Brewers Gold, and other unknown hops. Citra has a citrus aroma and flavor, with a heavy aroma of tropical fruits (guava, mango, tropical fruit). It is typically used as an aroma hop, but due to its high alpha % and low cohumulone content, it makes an excellent bittering hop as well. Registered Brand HBC 394 cv."

Citra is in vogue the moment, with Liberty's C!tra (an Imperial IPA hopped predominantly with citra) voted the Beer of 2011 by our customers, and demand for that same beer way ahead of supply at the moment. So news of a new batch of C!tra deserves to be celebrated.

Now bottles of this new batch hit our shelves today and should be reaching the shelves of a few selected supermarkets in the coming days. We've also received a single 20L keg from the same batch. And we happen to have kegs of Nøgne Ø's Citra Single Hop IPA and Mikkeller's Citra Single Hop IPA. Meanwhile a batch of Liberty's West Coast Blonde Citra is fermenting away in New Plymouth.

So in anticipation of the arrival of this last beer we're planning Citra-fest for Friday March 30. We'll put all four of these Citra-hopped beers on tap at once, so hop-heads and beer geeks can get their fix while enjoying a masterclass in the constructive use of brewing's most fashionable hop.

But be warned, we have only a single small keg of two of these beers.

Growler Howler 3 - The Explanation

Some time ago we were alerted to the attempt by Hancocks to trademark the term "Growler". Like the Society of Beer Advocates (SOBA), we were appalled by this as it is a term that Hancocks did not invent, but have simply borrowed, along with many other New Zealanders, from overseas.

Now in a dialogue with SOBA, Hancocks have tried to justify their position and it contains some jaw-dropping assertions and a staggering sense of importance. Apparently they were so appalled that DB trademarked Radler that they want to protect Growler by bagsing it for themselves. And if and when they win this trademark they will set themselves up as arbiters of who may use the word. The difference, according to Joe Jakicevich, the owner of Hancocks, is that Hancocks are a New Zealand family-owned institution and DB are a Dutch/Japanese controlled corporation. So Hancocks' intentions are pure and they can and need to be trusted.

Yes there really is no better way to show how much more moral you are than someone else than shamelessly copying them.

Fortunately the application is still in the "Under Examination" state, meaning that IPONZ haven't been fooled yet. If that changes to "Accepted", then someone is going to have to pony up $300 and oppose it.

In the meantime, feel free to offer constructive opinions to the discussion at the page on SOBA's website mentioned above.

Returning Friends

Look out for:
  • Yeastie Boys PKB
  • Green Flash 30th Street Pale Ale
  • Garage Project Trip Hop
  • Mikkeller Texas Ranger
  • Liberty C!tra Imperial IPA in bottles
  • and tomorrow (Friday), perhaps, this bloke:

And Finally...

Check out what was being bottled today:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

March 8, 2012

Temporary Gallery... Special Visitors... Thirteen... On Soon... iWit...

Temporary Gallery

The Red Room remains a temporary art gallery and will do until and including next Tuesday. The opening on Monday of Jed Soane's Brewers at Work got a big and enthusiastic turnout.

We encourage anyone familiar with the brewing process or the personalities in the New Zealand brewing industry to come along, enjoy the photos and consider buying a print to help get Jed to Australia.

Special Visitors

On Monday, while most of us were occupied with the launch of Jed's exhibition, a group of three customers visited Hashigo Zake, ordered some drinks and some Dragon Bread (that they found too spicy) then headed off into the Wellington night. It was about when they were leaving that we recognised Nick Floyd, Barnaby Struve and Chris Boggess of Three Floyds Brewery - allegedly the best brewers in the world, a title that none of Hashigo Zake's staff would debate based on the samples we've got to try.

Actually we'd been tipped off that they might drop by. Regular customer Scott of Ninjaflower has a strong association with the brewery and knew of their plan to come all the way from Munster, Indiana to witness New Zealand's hop harvest.

So we missed our chance to hang with the most rock 'n roll brewers in the world. But coincidence (or the scarcity of Wellington restaurants open at 9pm on a Monday) meant that they ended up sharing a table at Monsoon Poon with none other than the aforementioned Jed Soane.

And there this not-terribly-consequential story might end, except that the next day we noticed this on the inside of the door to the cubicle in the gents' toilet. While a keg of Dark Lord would have been good, this morsel of graphic art, presumably applied by one of 3 Floyds' inner circle, will have to pass for endorsement from the world's best brewery.

This a good time to mention that although the prospects of importing beer from 3 Floyds remain slim (read here to get an idea of what demand for their beer is like), we do have stock of some of their collaborations with Mikkeller and BrewDog and are looking forward to acquiring Mikkeller/3 Floyds BooGoop (wheat wine) soon.


Here's something for everyone's diary. On Friday January 13th Garage Project brewed an English barley wine. One week of fermentation and thirteen weeks of conditioning end of Friday April 13th. That's when we'll be serving this new beer, called Old Scratch.

We used to stock another beer called Old Scratch, from Flying Dog - an Amber Lager brewed at higher temperatures. Interestingly there's no suggestion that the Flying Dog beer's name had the same demonic origin.

Speaking of Garage Project, they recently brewed large batches of Pernicious Weed and Trip Hop at Three Boys. Kegs of these beers have been appearing at bars other than our own, which makes a nice change for all concerned. But don't worry, we'll be putting some on soon too, probably this weekend.

On Soon

If you buy into the theory that a cold climate needs darker beer, then you'll be pleased with our response to the premature arrival of winter:

  • For the first time in a long time, Invercargill Pitch Black Stout.
  • From our recent shipment from the Arctic Circle, Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout.
  • Green Flash Double Stout.
  • Cassel's Milk Stout, along with one or two other beers as part of a big order from the Christchurch brewpub.


Next Tuesday's new release is the last of our initial shipment from Australia's Feral. It's iWit 2.0, an Imperial Witbier - a Belgian style wheat beer with extra malt and spices. Given how good everything else from Feral has been, we expect great things.

iWit 2.0 is on tap from 5pm on Tuesday.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March 1, 2012

Jed Soane Exhibition... Fi-bar... New Release Tuesday - 1000IBU... The South Island... Pursuit of Hoppiness...

Jed Soane Photo Exhibition

We're turning a corner of the bar into an art gallery next week. We hope to find space on the walls of the Red Room for around 20 of Jed Soane's photos, but Jed also plans to bring an album showcasing more of his works so people can order prints from that.

8 Wired's Søren has come to the party and, as a favour to Jed, is sending a keg of an experimental spiced beer to serve during Monday's opening.

The official launch is at 5pm on Monday and the photos will stay up until March 13.


If anyone reading this has ever been dissatisfied with the way our internet connection becomes flaky at times (such as in the early evening when local apartment residents get home and check their email, or when our supplier removed all data caps for a weekend and their service plumbed new depths of effectiveness), relief is near.

That freshly laid asphalt outside marks where our new fibre connection comes into the building. We hope to get this enabled soon, terminate our arrangement with a certain large telecommunications company and then most or even all of our problems will be over. Any residual flakiness should be the fault of equipment that we still rely on here that there should be a simple upgrade for.

New Release Tuesday - 1000IBU

We're going from the sourness (or really, tartness) or last week's Sour Wench to a demonstration of the bittering capabilities of hops, with Mikkeller's 1000 IBU. This beer has a theoretical bitterness level of 1000 units, about 50 times that of a typical commercial beer, or about ten times that of a really bitter American IPA.

Now it's generally accepted that (a) we can't perceive differences in bitterness past about 100IBUs and (b) bitterness in a beer fades over time, and this keg is a few months old. So in theory the bitterness in this beer should not stop it being completely drinkable and we have nothing to fear.

Confront your bitterest fears at 5pm on Tuersday.

The South Island

A team of crack Hashigo Zake bar staff parachuted into Christchurch last weekend to give Cantabrians a taste of the kinds of imported tap beer we take for granted. The occasion was the inaugural Great Kiwi Beer Festival. We got to share beer from breweries like Mikkeller, Nøgne Ø, Ballast Point and Green Flash with people who'd never tasted them before and we may have found some more South Island supermarkets who will be broadening their range very soon.

The event itself is generally - unanimously even - considered to have been a great success. 10,000 people of all shapes, sizes and ages came, enormous volumes of beer from a wide variety of breweries were consumed and there was virtually no trouble to speak of - at least nowhere near as much as would be expected at a wine festival or cricket match.

Nevertheless something possessed the Christchurch Press, in an otherwise positive story here, to ignore the happy faces, the diverse crowd and the beautiful beverages and food on offer and publish this photo, because, you know, the place was just a sea of bellies. They must be a little ashamed though (but not enough to find a better photo) because they then deleted any polite criticism of their choice of photo from the story's comments.

But to celebrate everything that's positive about Christchurch and South Island beer culture, we've got a bumper order of South Island beer for the weekend. Although this is true most weeks. But look out for:

  • Harrington's Anvil a string, sauvin-hopped, lager.
  • Golden Ticket Champion Malky - because we like this blonde ale and because Golden Ticket's Ally McGilvray came and helped at our stall at the GKBF on Saturday!
  • More Black Arrow Pilsner and Three Piece Wheat from Townshend.
  • Raindogs Wee Bairn Bitter for the hand pump.
  • Cassel and Sons Alchemist Pale Ale, also on the hand pump.
  • Renaissance's Elemental Porter and Paradox Pilsner (as it has now been recategorised).

The Pursuit of Hoppiness

Copies of the latest instalment of the Pursuit of Hoppiness reached us yesterday and are here for collection by SOBA members or anyone fancying a good read.

Incidentally, as a benefit of our new membership of the American Brewers Association we just received a single copy of the March/April edition of American Homebrewers Association's magazine - Zymurgy. Any homebrewers wanting a bit of a read or some recipe ideas can come and ask at the bar.