Thursday, September 27, 2012

September 27, 2012

New American Beer Tasting... Aussie Rules and Other Televised Entertainment... Darren Watson Returns... Garage Project Also Returns... On Tap Soon... Pacific Beer Expo News...

New American Beer Tasting

Our formal welcome to a number of new American beers takes place next Wednesday evening. The core of the tasting will be the Southern Tier beers that we just brought in, but we'll augment those with a few beers that we got for the first time from other suppliers.

It's just $35 to take part and you can book a place at the bar or at the Cult Beer Store.

Aussie Rules and Other Televised Entertainment

We're offering a couple of alternative forms of afternoon entertainment in the coming weeks. First up, in collaboration with Craft Beer College, come the combined "Aussie Rules" tasting and ritual Grand Final viewing this Saturday. Apparently good bars screening the AFL Grand Final are thin on the ground in Wellington (who'd have thought?) so this year ex-pat Victorian Steph made it her mission to create a fitting occasion to watch the big game. To this end she has inaugurated a New Zealand vs Australia beer and pie tasting, starting at 2:30pm, leading into the match itself at 4pm.

More details are at

Now it has come to our attention that a rare trip by our national rugby team to South America will result in the staging of a test at the ungodly time of midday on a Sunday. Fortunately this coincides with our normal opening time so it will be little or no effort for us to show the game. And by the way, daylight saving starts earlier on Sunday morning.

Seven days later it will be a slightly different story. We'll be screening a very different kind of entertainment on the afternoon of October 7 - a live debate between comedian Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly, Fox News' purveyor of (generally daft) opinions. It will be coming over a series of tubes rather than a Sky channel, so we're looking forward to getting good use from our state of the art fibre connection to the outside world. And it looks as though the aforementioned daylight saving change means that this will start at 2pm rather than 1pm as previously stated.

Darren Watson Returns

Darren Watson and his Underground Blues Band return to our lounge for another evening of "Doity old blues played filthily", to quote Darren's own facebook page. Intrigued? Get in nice and early. The filth starts at 10pm on Saturday.

Garage Project Also Returns

When we served the first beer in Garage Project's season of 24 More a few weeks ago, we may have neglected to make a point about 24 More. Which is that Garage Project are making no commitment to release these beers at an actual or even an average rate of one per week. Hence the gap of a few weeks before the next experiment, which will turn up on Tuesday.

But s24e02 will be along next Tuesday and it should grab everyone's attention. It's a preview of sorts of a future barrel aged strong golden rye ale. Except that a small amount didn't make it into a barrel and instead spent some quality time with a few luscious, whole raspberries. It was, reportedly, a "bastard" to brew, which is pretty normal for rye, and so the working title of this beer is Bastard Rye (Raspberry Edition).

And did we mention that it weighs in at 11% ABV? No doubt someone will still complain when we don't serve it in an imperial pint.

On Tap Soon

It seems that now is the time to be revisiting some of the most interesting releases of the last few months (or earlier). For instance:

  • Garage Project Aro Noir and Golden Brown - two big successes of 24/24 return having been brewed on Garage Project's large system for the first time.
  • Our final keg of Emerson's magnificent Extra Stout.
  • Three Boys Coconut Milk Stout, which we now know is a milk stout made with coconut, not a stout made with coconut milk.
  • ParrotDog DeadCanary Pale Ale.

Then there's a new Yeastie Boys release. In a detailed email to outlets this week Stu explained that we must call it "Belgian-style Table Beer", because "Belgian-style Golden Mild" won't sell. The low-down is that it's a session beer (3.8% ABV) with a variety of Weyermann malts and Nelson Sauvin hops, fermented with the Rochefort yeast and it's called Plan B.

What Stu forgets is that the crucial words that help sell a beer aren't "mild" or "Belgian" but "Yeastie" and "Boys".

Pacific Beer Expo News

We like to keep up a steady flow of information about the lineup on Labour Weekend. But at the time of writing we have 20 or 30 beers that are in the probable category as they're either on their way to New Zealand or are still being brewed. Naming beers that aren't sitting in our cool-store right now seems like tempting fate. So here, for now, are a couple that are waiting in our cool-store and we can be 100% confident about.

From San Diego's Ballast Point comes a fruit beer that seems to be dividing critics. It gets comments on ratebeer like "Sweet and sticky, tough to drink, way too boozy", but is in the 98th percentile for its style. All of which makes it a perfect festival beer. It's called Old Barmy Ale and is made with apricots and caramelised honey.

We don't want too many extreme beers, so we're expecting far less fuss from a new (to us) beer from Coronado, called Nutter Brown, which is a brown ale.

Details regarding tickets are the same as before - you can buy them here at the bar or from the Cult Beer Store. Anyone preferring to come on Saturday the 20th might want to get their ticket sooner rather than later.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September 20, 2012

Our Precious... Benny and the Jets... Pacific Beer Expo Update... Fact Checking...

Our Precious

Back in May beer writer Geoff Griggs described a trip to the Pelican brewpub in Pacific City Oregon that he made with 666 brewer Graeme Mahy in April this year. In that time Pelican's Head Brewer Darren Welch and Graeme worked together on a pale ale made with New Zealand hops. Geoff commented "most likely none of us will get to sample the finished beer."

Has New Zealand's most respected beer writer ever been more wrong? Little did Geoff realise that his and Graeme's movements were being tracked by a posse from Hashigo Zake, who snuck into Pelican a few days after them, sampled Our Precious from the fermenter, sent kegs to the brewery, cajoled the staff there into filling them, then needed two attempts to collect those kegs as the freight truck couldn't handle the dodgy road out to the beachfront brewery.

The beer has taken a long time to reach New Zealand but it has remained cold this whole time and we're crossing our fingers that it hasn't aged too quickly. In the short time before it ran out at the brewpub it was said to have been the fastest selling seasonal they had ever had. So we'll have great expectations when we put Our Precious on tap next Tuesday at 5pm. Here is Pelican's own description of the beer:

Golden-colored and medium-bodied, Our Precious features a hop character bursting with fruity Kiwi hops, balanced by a malt backbone of Pale Ale, Melanoidin and Caramel malts.

But this isn't the first time that we at Hashigo Zake have stuck our beaks into the business of collaborating breweries. Earlier this year we loaned kegs to Yeastie Boys that enabled us all to sample Bruce, their collaboration with Adelaide's Lobethal Bierhaus. And last year of course we carted Nøgne Ø's Kjetil Jikiun around the country on a tour that yielded Summer Sommer (with Garage Project) and Ø For Awesome with 8 Wired and Renaissance. To celebrate this recent spate of international collaborations we'll put some of our remaining stock of Bruce and Ø For Awesome on tap alongside Our Precious. So next Tuesday you'll be able to come down and sample three examples of New Zealand breweries collaborating with foreign brewers.

Benny and the Jets

Another precedent was set last Saturday night during our weekly musical slot: the band didn't show up. Of all the possible outcomes from our ongoing experiment with live music, a no-show by the band wasn't one we'd considered. We'd give everyone in the bar on Saturday their money back but no-one had actually paid to be there. All we can do is apologise to anyone reading who was disappointed or inconvenienced by the lack of a Latin Jazz band on Saturday night.

A quite powerful tale has emerged for why the band couldn't show up on Saturday but it's not the kind of story that should be discussed publicly. Maybe it will be told one day.

This week we have a new act (for us) in Benny And The Jets. Rather than an Elton John tribute act, we're promised "a night of funk classics and heavily groovilised '70s TV themes. Loads of fun guaranteed to get you up and shaking it."

The shaking starts at 10pm and there will be no cover charge. And for anyone made nervous by the thought of a live band and who hasn't been present for one of our late night gigs, please be assured that if you're not in the room where the band are playing your Hashigo Zake experience is not actually changed much - conversation and even occasional sports viewing are still possible on the other side of the bar.

Pacific Beer Expo Update

Planning for the Pacific Beer Expo is in full swing and we can announce another detail or two.

  • We first brought in some beer from Left Coast earlier this year. Our first order was small - just a mixed pallet of bottles of four beers - the classic, but by US standards understated, IPA called Trestles, a Black IPA called Wedge, Voodoo Stout and a ferociously hoppy Imperial IPA called Hop Juice. We thought that the beers and their beautiful silk-screened bottles were a hit so when the time came to reorder we went hard.

    We now have kegs of most of the range. In particular we have lots of Hop Juice. We look forward to unleashing Hop Juice on festival goers who haven't been lucky enough to try it yet.

    (Customers coming in to Hashigo Zake in the next few days might like to look out for a foretaste of Hop Juice coming on tap.)

  • We had our first taste of beer from Doctor's Orders Brewing just a few weeks ago in the form of their White IPA called Plasma. At the Pacific Beer Expo we'll unleash their next offering, a weizenbock called Defibrillator.
  • Finally we can announce a component of the festival that isn't a drink (or food). It's a travel agent. Beer Tours NZ is a new venture by Auckland travel agent Glen Armstrong. He's developing actual, structured beer tourism for the New Zealand market and will be present at the festival to field queries. And coincidentally his facebook page features a photo of the Pelican brewpub.

Tickets for the event are still on sale here at Hashigo Zake or at the Cult Beer Store.

Fact Checking

Congratulations to Pete Gillespie on another appearance in the media, this time on TVNZ Breakfast this morning. It's at And once again the story was told by a reporter who didn't giggle and snigger all the way through it. A little fact checking wouldn't have hurt though. ("Saturday night" at some "local bar"??!!)

Speaking of fact checking the US presidential campaign has only two years to go. No, sorry, I'm told that's seven weeks. It reaches what may be its peak in a couple of weeks when Fox News rantperson Bill O'Reilly faces probably the finest spokesperson that normal, rational people have ever had - Jon Stewart - in a live debate. The event is being streamed live on the interweb at 1pm on a Sunday (New Zealand time) and it seems like a perfect event to apply our ridiculously fast internet connection to. So who fancies some politics and craft beer on a lazy Sunday afternoon?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September 13, 2012

Three... Music This Saturday... The Pacific Beer Expo... Imported Beer...


It has been an interesting week at Hashigo Zake. Monday saw our highly successful collaboration with Shinobi Sushi go off without a hitch, and our own Shigeo Takagi and Shinobi’s Tatsuhito Sasakura deserve congratulations for their superb six-course dinner matched with Japanese or Japanese-influenced beers.

Later that night, as a few of us reflected on the magnificent meal we’d just had, we were reminded that the date was September 10, making it three years to the day since we declared Hashigo Zake officially open.

But before we could celebrate word came through that our largest ever order of American beer had turned up early. This is thought to be a first in the history of long haul freight. So we hastily roused our team of crack bottle labellers and on Wednesday (yesterday if you’re reading this on the 13th) we sent them out to our secret cool-store to label 14,000 bottles of beer. You read that correctly, 14,000 bottles of beer now carry a little more consumer information than they did on Tuesday. Because the beer just wouldn’t taste the same if you didn’t know the address of the importer.

It’s now Thursday (if you’re reading this today) and after the highs and lows of the last few days it seems appropriate to connect them all up in some kind of orgiastic celebration of beer and birthdays. So New Zealand’s authorised importer of the beer of Bear Republic, which is... err... um... us(!), has donated a keg of ridiculously fresh Racer 5 IPA to be shared with our customers on the dot of 5pm today. It’s a long time since anyone in Wellington had fresh stock of Racer 5, let alone served it at no charge. So we suggest that anyone reading this today stop what they’re doing, come down and help us celebrate three years of serving fine beer.

A warning. This isn’t a very big keg. If you’re reading this tomorrow (Friday) forget about it.

Music This Saturday

At the risk of having the carpet in the lounge worn out by dancers, we’ve re-booked the Carlos Navae band for this Saturday night.

Did we mention that we don’t operate a cover charge for our Saturday evening performances?

The Latin-oriented fun starts at 10pm.

The Pacific Beer Expo

Ticket sales are ticking along nicely for the Pacific Beer Expo. There are only five weeks left so now seems a good time to leak a few hints about what will be served this year.

Back around the end of first decade of the 21st century a lot of American breweries were sending beer to the New Zealand Brewers Guild Awards (or BrewNZ Awards as they were then). Not so many do now and exactly why is a long story, but some of those American breweries sent more beer than was needed for judging and some of that beer made its way onto the market in Wellington. That was when many of us first heard of Pelican – a brewpub in Pacific City, Oregon. Their Doryman’s Dark and Tsunami Stout became instant hits but haven’t been seen since.

One of the reasons Pelican stopped sending beer to New Zealand is that they are simply too much in demand. At this year’s World Beer Cup their head brewer Darron Welch must have got tired of being called to the stage by the time he collected the award for Best Large Brewpub. Weeks later in Melbourne Pelican were named “Champion International Small Brewery” at the Australian International Beer Awards. And we know from first-hand experience that Pelican’s consistently great beer and stunning beach location guarantee that they’ll easily sell whatever they brew.

And yet we have persuaded Pelican to fill a handful of kegs for us. Exactly how and why is a story in itself and may be revealed in a few weeks. But at the Pacific Beer Expo we will be pouring the American Dark Ale known as Pelican Doryman’s Dark.

Speaking of the Pacific Beer Expo, beer festivals are financially treacherous events to try and run and we do rely on the support of an elite group of volunteers to make ours work. Now it must be conceded that our volunteers are (pretty much by definition) unpaid, but there are a few perks, not least of which is admission to a session of the festival itself. So if you happen to be interested in mixing your festival attendance with some festival work and all the camaraderie, intrigue and satisfaction that comes with that, please get in touch with our volunteer coordinators. For the Pacific Beer Expo our volunteer coordinators are none other than the fabulously well organised people at Craft Beer College. They can be contacted at

Imported Beer

Those still with us may recall the earlier sections of this transmission. We mentioned a container-load of imported beer. This news deserves some more attention.

With a few more of the country’s bars and bottle stores showing interest in our imports the time came for our biggest ever order of American beer. The container brought ultra-fresh beer direct from Ballast Point, Green Flash, Left Coast, Coronado and Bear Republic. It also brought us our first ever proper order from New York’s Southern Tier. Southern Tier are another example of a booming US craft brewery making big, even extreme, beers. This initial shipment only brought a subset of their total offering, but includes some extraordinary beers, including the absurdly tasty Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale and Crème Brulee Imperial Stout.

To mark this arrival we’re planning a tasting on October the 3rd of new beers from this shipment. The tasting will concentrate on Southern Tier beers sprinkled with a few other rarities and maybe one or two new offerings from better known breweries. It will take place at 6:30pm here at Hashigo Zake. Tickets are available at the Cult Beer Store.

Furthermore one of Southern Tier's beers will be our New Release next Tuesday. Come along from 5pm to try Southern Tier Harvest Ale - an ESB rated seventh in the world for its style according to

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September 6, 2012

24 More... The X-Ray Catz.... Japanese Cuisine and Beer... 2012 Pacific Beer Expo Tickets... On Tap Now Or Soon... Shame...

24 More

In season after season of 24, Jack Bauer would take more physical and emotional punishment than any human could bear and still come back for another year. (Actually this is an assumption from someone who stopped watching after he survived a nuclear explosion.) But it would contradict everything we understand about a 24 episode series if Garage Project's incredibly successful 24/24 programme didn't make it back for another season.

So with the smugness of a television executive with a guaranteed ratings winner, we would like to announce that next week sees the first instalment of Garage Project's 24 More. Yes next Tuesday from 5pm we'll be partying like it's 2011.

What beer could live up to the anticipation of another 24 experiments from Aro Valley's biggest brewery? Should we expect an ice-distilled, saffron-infused buckwheat quadruple IPA? Or a squid-ink and pepper pilsner?

As it happens 24 More kicks off with a 3.8% Bitter. But it's no ordinary bitter. Well, technically it is an ordinary bitter, but with some uncommon variations. For one thing it was brewed in public on a Sunday afternoon at Moore Wilsons. And some "local" ingredients were added in the form of water from Moore Wilson's own well and everyday groceries such as orange peel and marmalade.

And since this beer was brewed in public, it will be served in theatrical fashion - gravity-dispensed from a firkin on our bar-top.

So Moore Wilson Orange Marmalade Bitter goes on tap in the New Release Tuesday (formerly 24/24) slot at 5pm on the 11th.

The X-Ray Catz

New Zealand music legend Dave Mason returns on Saturday night at 10pm to play more rockabilly with the X-Ray Catz. If you'd told us three years ago that we'd not only host a rockabilly band at Hashigo Zake but welcome them back you'd have been laughed off the premises. Instead we're looking forward to it.

Japanese Cuisine and Beer

We feared that five days lead time wasn't enough for this event and so it proved. So late last week we decided to give ourselves and Shinobi Sushi an extra week before throwing open the doors to Wellington's most adventurous diners.

The rescheduled Japanese Cuisine and Beer starts at 6pm next Monday and places can be booked at Shinobi Sushi on Vivian St, here at Hashigo Zake or from our web store here.

2012 Pacific Beer Expo Tickets

Tickets for the Pacific Beer Expo went on sale on Saturday and have been selling pretty steadily since. The Saturday session has been particularly popular which prompts a couple of comments:

  1. If you want to book for Saturday don't take too long.
  2. Don't forget it's a long weekend so there's no need to fear the Sunday session!

The Pacific Beer Expo takes place on October the 20th and 21st, from 2pm to 7pm at the Boatshed on Wellington's waterfront. Tickets can be bought at Hashigo Zake or from the Cult Beer Store.

On Tap Now or Soon

As promised a few luxury leftovers from Beervana are finding their way to our taps. One of the most interesting is on right now. 8 Wired Festivus 2012 is a feijoa lambic. There are hints of the Mussel Inn's Lambagreeny - their magnificent but rare feijoa gueuze - though Festivus 2012 is probably a lot less sour.

Also coming up is the little that was left after Beervana of Feral Karma Citra. Festival patrons left little to pick over from the two Feral beers offered, but fans of what is probably Australia's best brewery can take heart. A handful of other Feral beers came over too and we'll be putting some on tap soon. (And keeping a little for the Pacific Beer Expo!)

We also snapped up what was left of Beervana's supply of the Bridge Road/Nøgne Ø collaboration called India Saison. Now we've been selling bottles of this beer that originated at Nøgne Ø. But this keg is from a Bridge Road batch. Completists should know that an upcoming shipment of beer from Nøgne Ø will include kegs of their version of this beer.

Ryan Sullivan's Imperial Stout from Moylan's came on tap over the weekend. For a multiple award winning brewery Moylan's tend to leave people divided. But we can assure patrons that this Imperial Stout is one of their exceptionally good ones. If in doubt, ask for a taste.

In anticipation of the arrival of an enormous order from San Diego's Coronado Brewery, we'll soon be putting on the very last keg of Idiot IPA in New Zealand.


Last Saturday was pretty eventful here for all sorts of reasons, not least being an amazing gig by Darren Watson's Underground Blues Band. But all the fun went out of the evening when an opportunistic thief nabbed the skateboard of one of our staff. It didn't take long to find raw footage of the act thanks to our security cameras. This was uploaded to youtube and propagated by social networking leading to some fairly strong clues about the identity of the thief. Meanwhile the staff at a local skate shop got in touch to say that the thief had sold them the board. (Or tried to - this part isn't entirely clear.)

So it looks as though the goods in question may well be returned to their rightful owner and we thank everyone who helped spread the word over recent days about the theft and the footage. It's not entirely clear whether complete justice will be done, and the story isn't over.

Now we at Hashigo Zake need to be tolerant and patient (it's part of the job) and don't want to be vigilantes. But when the safety or personal property of staff or patrons are threatened we will energetically use whatever tools are at our disposal, including shaming perpetrators, to claw back some of what we lose to petty (or not so petty) crimes.