Monday, December 27, 2010

December 23, 2010

Christmas Trading...
Green Flash...
Ballast Point...
Boxing Day Test...
Coming Soon

Christmas Trading

This time last year it seemed that you'd all left town and trade was slow. So this week we let several key staff disperse to various parts of the world (like Japan and the South Island) and looked forward to a low key few days of trading in the last days before Christmas. Instead we've been as busy as ever. Admittedly launching Green Flash on Tuesday played a part, but it's been a pleasant surprise to see the bar packed out pretty much every night this week.

So thank you all for keeping us busy and please accept our apologies if our standards of service have been affected by the unexpected level of business.

As you'll see below we aim to maintain business as usual as much as possible over the Christmas period. We are obliged to turf you all out by midnight on Christmas Eve and not open again until Boxing Day, but apart from that we will be open from midday every day.

Green Flash

From where we stood our launch of Green Flash on tap on Tuesday was a runaway success, with a lot of people rapt to be drinking Californian beer in the kind of condition the brewer would approve of.

Our initial kegs of 30th St Pale, West Coast IPA, Hop Head Red and Double Stout were all gone early on Wednesday, but they'll all be returning soon and regularly. But we're unlikely to have more than two on at once from now on. 30th Street will be on tonight.

Ballast Point

Tuesday's Green Flash launch was so enjoyable that we are planning a similar event for Ballast Point on New Year's Eve. More details in next week's email and on Facebook and Twitter closer to the time.

Boxing Day Test

As discussed, it's business as usual on Boxing Day, which coincides with one of the most eagerly anticipated sporting events in a long time. We know an English accent when we hear it and we know there must be a lot of support amongst our customers for one side (or the other). We'll put a keg of Fuller's London Pride on, the beer engines will be pumping and we'll even make sure there are plenty of Pork and Chorizo pies in stock.

Coming Soon

Some of our key suppliers have the nerve to go on holiday over the next few days, so we've had to stock up big time.

  • We've got a pallet load of beer from Renaissance, including Elemental Porter, Voyager IPA and Discovery.
  • The steady flow of beer from Golden Bear continues, with more Patriot Pale Ale and Hop Toad.
  • We've got a new beer from the Mussel Inn called Happy Jackal Pumpkin Ale.
  • And because we know that 8 Wired's Tall Poppy is turning drinkers into addicts we've hoarded two kegs.
  • Our first ever Moa keg is ready to have its day. It will be their radical 7.2%ABV Pale Ale.
  • And last but not least, expect to see beers from Bear Republic, Coronado and Green Flash (in addition to the four launched on Tuesday) sneaking onto the taps or into the bottle fridges over the coming days.

Merry Christmas from everyone at Hashigo Zake.

Friday, December 17, 2010

December 16, 2010

Reefer Madness.. Ballast Point Brewing.. Green Flash Launch Party.. Boxing Day Trading.. Our Evolving Website.. Christmas Farewells....

Reefer Madness

Like impressionable children listening for news on Santa's arrival on Christmas eve, we've been intently waiting on calls and emails giving us news on the progress of our container-load of beer as it steams across the Pacific. And progress has been good. Our container arrived in Tauranga on Monday and right now is somewhere between there and Wellington. Apparently it arrives in Wellington on Sunday. We're confident enough to firm up plans for Tuesday's Green Flash Launch Party (see below).

Ballast Point Brewing Company

Of the four breweries represented in this shipment, there is a nice symmetry about the fact that Ballast Point is one of them. Ballast Point was arguably the only brewery to do better at the 2010 World Beer Cup than our favourite from Japan, Baird. Like Baird they took away three gold medals but were also named Best Small Brewery.

A glance at (if you put any stock in this) shows that the World Beer Cup was no fluke. Ballast Point are apparently in the world's top twenty breweries and make the third best IPA in the world. That IPA is Sculpin - one of two Ballast Point IPAs in this shipment, in addition to Dorado Imperial IPA which we will only have in bottles.

But perhaps it's a dark beer - Victory at Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter that should really be raising the excitement levels. When news came through that Flying Dog were ceasing exports to this part of the world I promised that we would find a beer to replace Gonzo Imperial Porter (of which some stock remains, incidentally). Victory at Sea is that beer. It is dazzlingly rich and complex. As well as a healthy stock of 650ml bottles, we have four precious kegs of this beer to put on in the first few months of 2011. We recommend keeping a close eye on our ever-changing tap list to know when you can come in and drink this 10% Imperial Porter from the taps.

Green Flash Launch Party

As mentioned earlier our plans for a Green Flash Launch Party next Tuesday evening are a little less tentative now that we know the beer is in New Zealand territorial waters. We'll put West Coast IPA, Hop Head Red (allegedly the best Amber Ale in the world), 30th Street Pale Ale and Double Stout on tap. For $20 anyone can buy a ticket entitling you to a 330ml glass of all four beers. We will also be taking a close look at the swag that came with the order to see if there is anything we're inclined to share.

The whole thing kicks off at 6pm next Tuesday, December 21.

Boxing Day Trading

While every Wellington-resident Pom or Aussie will be pining to be in Melbourne on Boxing Day we know that you can't all get there. So we're proposing an easier alternative. We will open for business as usual at midday on Boxing Day, which will give you plenty of time to find a comfortable position before play starts at 1pm in the Boxing Day Ashes Test.

To sweeten the deal we've arranged a fresh keg of Fuller's London Pride - a far more palatable option than Carlton mid-strength from a plastic cup, surely... And we might even serve it in full 570ml measures. And we'll make sure there are good stocks of beers on the hand pumps.

But it gets better. Boxing Day falls on a Sunday so instead of a holiday surcharge, we'll be applying our usual SOBA discounts.

Our Evolving Website

Checked out our re-skinned website over the last seven days? We know of at least one glitch involving the photos and Firefox which is now resolved.

As time goes on we're adding more to the site, particularly up-to-date information about what's available over the bar. In short - keep coming back to

Christmas Farewells

No doubt this email will lead to a flood of out-of-office replies as some of you have already left for the beach. For those departing soon, please accept the best wishes of Hashigo Zake's owners and staff. Thank you for your part in making 2010 a great year for our young business.

For those going nowhere for the next week or two: good decision! We'll continue to operate as usual, with a couple of exceptions. Firstly we are obliged to close on Christmas Day. Secondly the coming weeks will see the best and freshest American beer ever to appear on a New Zealand bar's taps. Enjoy!

Friday, December 10, 2010

December 9, 2010

Going Live, Ready or Not.. Bear Republic Brewing Company.. Golden Bear.. Congratulations..

Going Live, Ready or Not

For the last sixteen or so months our website has drawn a variety of reactions. It's strength and weakness is that it was written by a software developer. This means it's low on visual style but can do things like update our beer menu on the fly.

Before returning to the film industry our Creative Director, Sean Golding, designed a few graphical elements for a new website version. Our favourite Glaswegian bartender (and part time website designer) Chris Hogg then refined these into working HTML. Finally our resident geek scavenged the necessary hours to shoe-horn all the original content and functions (and a few new bits) into the new site.

Rather than keep postponing the live date while we refine things more, we're throwing caution to the wind today and launching. So point your browsers at from around about now to see our website reskinned.

Features of version 2 are:

  • a news page that consolidates content from the archive of this email, the proprietor's blog and arbitrary pieces of news that we can insert any time.
  • a food page that displays up to date information on the flavours of pie that are available.
  • the same live tap beer menu that we know some of you check religiously.
  • it looks nicer.

Our mobile beer list web page, designed for browsers such as that on an iPhone, remains unchanged. We appreciate that although useful, it has shortcomings. Some day we'll find time to address those.

Bear Republic Brewing Company

Like the other breweries in our upcoming shipment of Californian beer, Bear Republic should cause palpitations and salivation amongst the, notebook-carrying segment of our customers. Their lineup includes an IPA whose name is one of the most recognisable in North American brewing (and is ratebeer's 14th highest rated IPA) and a rye Imperial IPA that is so distinctive it probably distorts people's perception of rye beers.

Bear Republic are the only brewery in this shipment not from San Diego. Instead they are from yet another hot bed of brewing - Sonoma County in Northern California, a mere twenty minutes drive from Russian River.

So in addition to Racer 5 IPA and Hop Rod Rye, you can expect to find soon XP Pale Ale, Red Rocket Ale, Pete Brown Tribute Ale, Big Bear Stout and Apex Imperial IPA.

They should start appearing in bottles and on tap just before or just after Christmas. We recommend cancelling out of town holidays.

Golden Bear

It's fitting to mention Golden Bear brewing next to Bear Republic. Golden Bear is the creation of the enigmatic Jim Matranga, a Californian who set up his brewpub in Mapua, Nelson.

We've been impressed with just about every beer we've had access to from Golden Bear, but brewpubs are notoriously difficult to secure a regular supply from as their own outlet takes priority. Jim must have been busy lately though, because we've been able to pick up several of their beers including our favourite - Patriot's Pale Ale. (Not to be confused with Croucher's recent black IPA with a similar name.) So look out for Golden Bear making it back onto our taps over the next few days and nights.


You're probably tired of us reporting on compliments and awards that we've either had bestowed or were begging for votes for. So this time we can congratulate a few friends in the brewing industry for some milestones.

First there's Rotorua's Croucher, brewers of a triumvirate of great beers that we regularly pour - namely their pilsner, hefeweizen and pale ale. This week the Croucher Pale Ale was named champion beer in Capital Times' Beer Necessities survey.

Secondly Søren Erikson's 8 Wired Brewing just had a shipment of beer arrive in Denmark, imported by none other than the brewer Mikkeller. It's a fantastic landmark for Søren, and further evidence of the export potential of New Zealand craft beer.

Finally we note with satisfaction that James Franklin of the Black Caps (the team we have in lieu of a national cricket team) has hit a rich vein of batting form since celebrating his 30th a few weeks ago on our premises.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 2, 2010

Green Flash Brewing Company.. 8 Wired Mini-festival.. Other Treats.. Beer Options.. Fishhead

Green Flash Brewing

Beer from the Green Flash Brewery is on the water. Of the four breweries coming in this shipment, Green Flash are probably the best known. Their West Coast IPA is considered something of a classic, although it will be interesting to see if its uncompromising maltiness, bitterness and fresh, green hop aroma - especially in ultra-fresh condition - are too much for some.

The name Green Flash refers not to a lime-clad superhero, but to the optical phenomenon that occurs just after sunset or just before sunrise, when a green spot is visible for a moment above the sun. At least that's what we're led to believe. Equally plausible is that the brewery was named (in 2002) with foreknowledge of the 2008 movie Green Flash, which looks destined to become the seminal beach volleyball movie of our time.

We're planning a Green Flash Launch Party at Hashigo Zake on December 21st. We'll put West Coast IPA, 30th St Pale Ale, Hophead Red and maybe one other on tap at once, offer discounts to anyone wanting to work their way through the whole range, and we'll be as generous as ever, maybe even more so, with the samples. We may even be persuaded to part with a little of the precious merchandise that's sharing container space with the beer.

8 Wired Mini-Festival

Our equal favourite Danish brewer Søren Erikson has been busy and we at Hashigo Zake are the beneficiaries. In his quest to make a great Belgian Tripel, Søren split his test batch into three and used three different yeasts to ferment the portions. He offered to blend the results back together but we insisted that it would be far more fun to try them separately.

So sneaking onto the premises this afternoon were three small kegs of 8Wired Test Batch Tripel - 20 Litres each made with Westmalle, Unibroue and La Chouffe yeasts respectively. We suggest trying all three and giving us your feedback. It's unlikely that we'll manage to sneak all three on at once. But at 9%ABV that may be just as well.

Another of Søren's experiments is referred to as SMaSH. This stands for Single Malt and Single Hop. It's a pale ale made with only Munich malt and Motueka hops. Now at first Søren was somewhat non-committal about its quality, saying things like: "if it tastes terrible you are welcome to send it back, I won't be offended". Lately though he's saying "after a bit of conditioning it's actually OK". We know Søren well enough to know that he's a master of understatement and expectation management. (He once threatened to tip out the beer that is iStout.) So we've a feeling that SMaSH will be worth getting at least a glass of.

And to complete our mini-festival Tall Poppy will be back on tap soon AND we've picked up kegs from recent batches of Hopwired IPA and Rewired Brown Ale.

Other Treats

Stu from Yeastie Boys was in at lunchtime today, keen to find out when our one keg (and one of three nationwide) of PKB Remix goes on. The answer turned out to be just after Stu left. In fact for a very short time PKB the porter and PKB Remix the incredibly aromatic, hoppy dark ale are on tap alongside each other.

Another treat for the inner beer geek in all of us should be the chance to taste the marvelous Sutton Hoo in both hand pumped and cold/fizzy configurations.

Kieran Hazlett-Moore of Regional Wines described the fact we have Galbraith's Resurrection as "a coup". Who are we to argue? And we're confident it's the best Belgian Tripel being brewed in New Zealand - at lease until we check out Søren's experimental ones. Resurrection is on tap right now.

Beer Options

This year's Beer Options contest, organised once again by Regional Wines and Spirits, took place last Thursday. We decided to contribute by offering a couple of bar tabs as prizes. It did seem a little redundant when a team made up of our own General Manager David Wood and a number of regular customers took out the main prize.

But congratulations to Dave and his team. They join an elite honours board of teams who have been able to win and defend the annual Beer Options competition.


The December/January issue of Fishhead Magazine came out a few days ago. This is the first issue to include a new column on beer-related matters, penned by Hadyn Green. Not entirely coincidentally, we have an advertisement in it. We recommend it.