Thursday, May 17, 2012

May 17, 2012

Australia... Funk Estate... On Tap Now or Soon... Rogue's Return... Even More Good News...


Right now many of our suppliers and quite a few of our customers have their attention focused on Melbourne, which is in the middle of "Good Beer Week". This festival of beer-related activities kicked off last Friday when the historic and, frankly, gorgeous Royal Exhibition Hall in Carlton hosted the three day Great Australasian Beer Spectapular.

As predicted this was one of the most ambitious beer festivals we've ever seen. All sixty beers, with maybe one exception, were brewed specially for the event. The venue was filled with long tables and bench seating to create a "beer hall" atmosphere and allow participants to sit down to do their sampling. There was seating for 2800 and plenty more open space to mingle in.

In the Anzac spirit New Zealand breweries were given a high profile, with a quarter of the beers coming from our side of the Tasman and New Zealand's contingent listed first in the programme and on the taps, which seemed to encourage punters to try them first. Yeastie Boys' Gunnamatta, their radical tea-infused pale ale, ended up being voted the most popular beer of the event. But we can report that most of the New Zealand beers made a good impression, particularly 8 Wired C4 (which strongly resembled their coffee-infused Double Brown brewed for last year's Pacific Beer Expo), Renaissance Barrel-Aged Stonecutter and Liberty S!mcoe.

The Hashigo Zake delegation can also report that there were some pretty special offerings from the Australian breweries. Unsurprisingly Feral contributed a little stunner in the form of a 1.9% melon-infused Berliner Weisse. A couple of breweries that were new to us came through with fine brews and we'll be endeavouring to bring the leftovers of one or two of those across the Tasman.

There were so many innovations to GABS that it's no wonder that there were hiccups. In particular serving multiple samples at a time on paddles to thousands of customers at once led to some long queues. This issue in particular caused the organisers plenty of angst and there will be a lot of thought given to improvements in the next twelve months.

Meanwhile Melbourne beer lovers continue to be spoiled with smaller events around the theme of craft beer, with a climax of sorts tonight when the winners of the Australian International Beer Awards are named. New Zealand breweries have done well at AIBA over recent years so we'll be listening for news with interest.

Funk Estate

Next week's New Release is pretty special. Funk Estate is a new brewing company formed in Wellington by regular customers Dan Lord, Dylan Shearer, Jordan Scott Evison and our very own Shigeo (Shiggy) Takagi. A few weeks ago they headed to Kawerau to use Aotearoa Brewery's gear to make their first beer, a Black IPA based on a recipe of Shiggy's.

From 5:30pm on Tuesday we'll be giving that beer and Funk Estate their first public outing. We're anticipating that this will be one of the bigger events in the Wellington craft beer scene for some time. We recommend coming nice and early.

On Tap Now or Soon

It's a good week or so for new local beer. As well as next week's Funk Estate launch, the aforementioned GABS-popular-vote-winning Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta is on the premises and should make it onto a tap in the next few days. Meanwhile the Yeasties' Digital IPA will be poured on the hand pump very shortly.

The next few weeks will be big ones for Liberty. In a few days there will be some stock of C!tra Imperial IPA for ourselves and all the supermarkets and bottle stores that call daily to ask if we have any. We'll also be putting Joe Wood's newest beer - Alpha Dogg - on tap for the first time.

As special as C!tra and Alpha Dogg will be, we have something to trump even those. Sitting in our coolstore is a pin of a special batch of Yakima Monster brewed by Ian Ramsay and Liberty's Joe Wood at Auckland's Galbraith's. Now as well as being devoted to traditional methods of brewing and dispensing beer, Galbraith's happen to be the only people in New Zealand (that we know of) allowed to import whole cone hops, rather than pellets. For this batch of Yakima Monster they brought in actual cones of American Simcoe and Amarillo, making Galbraith's/Liberty Yakima Monster a completely unique beer. As mentioned, Galbraith's are pretty particular about how they serve beer and for this special batch they've agreed to let us have this 20L pin for direct, bar-top dispensing.

We're hoping to get Joe down from the 'Naki on Friday June 1 (the Friday of Queen's Birthday weekend) and we'll tap this pin of precious beer then, possibly along with one or two other Liberty goodies.

Rogue's Return

For the first time in a long time we can say that we're well stocked with Rogue beer, with most of a container load arriving on Tuesday. The only problem is that we're struggling to find room in our fridges for all of it. So we'll be phasing lines of Rogue's fantastic beer onto the shelves over the coming week or so. Bottles of Captain Sig's, Chipotle, 200 Metre, Imperial Pilsner, Double Dead Guy and Yellow Snow could be in your hands soon. Then on Friday the 25th we'll put Dead Guy Ale (complete with an awesome tap handle) and one or two others on tap at the same time.

Even More Good News

Late last year in the run-up to Christmas Adam Page and the Counts entertained us on four utterly memorable Saturday nights with their blend of funk, boogooloo, shuffle and ecstatic, improvised musical creativity. Well we're looking at repeating the whole experience in June.


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