Thursday, December 29, 2011

December 29, 2011

Aestivation-free Zone... New Release Tuesday... New Year's Eve Tapstravaganza... Liberty West Coast Blonde Ales...

Aestivation-free Zone

It's a pleasure to reveal that in spite of the accepted wisdom that Wellington empties out in summer we have been busy for the last week. Having live music on Christmas Eve helped, as did the fact that just about everyone else stayed closed on Boxing Day.

No doubt many of you won't read this until some time in January and we'll get a flood of those very helpful "out-of-office replies" to emphasise this fact. But for those of you with an email account that you don't depend on an employer for, or who, like us, are toiling away at your profession, it's pleasing to know that we aren't the only ones in denial of the traditional New Zealand summer shutdown.

In case anyone is left in any doubt, we are open every day, having taken our legally mandated day off for Christmas. We won't close again until Good Friday (April 6).

New Release Tuesday

As long as we're open then rituals like New Release Tuesday must continue. This week we cracked New Zealand's one and only keg of Mikkeller Vesterbro Wit (Anniversary edition). This hasn't yet been drained and anyone adventurous enough to try a hoppy witbier is in for a treat. Like the Feral Golden Ace that we had on tap recently, this is a case of a beer made in a particular Belgian style, at least in theory, but completely dominated by the windfall lemon flavours of Sorachi Ace hops.

Next week we'll take the opportunity to crack another of our stock of uncompromising Mikkeller beers. This time it will be the notorious 1000 IBU. We have actually had this in bottles before, but we aren't satisfied that enough people found out what a theoretical bitterness level thirty times "normal" tastes like.

It's generally understood that we can't perceive bitterness past around 100 IBUs, so in theory 900 of the 1000 IBUs in the beer are redundant. If that's the case then this beer really should be nothing to be afraid of.

By the way, to attempt to balance the bitterness of this beer it weighs in at a hefty 9.4% ABV. A "light" version of this beer has been brewed which is just 4.7%. Those who have tasted the light version can confirm that a thin bodied beer at 1000 units of bitterness is exceptionally difficult to drink.

We're in the middle of a mini-festival of Mikkeller beers right now. Anyone who hasn't at least tried Black is encouraged to try it while it's on tap - ideally as your last beer of the night. Unlike most beers with an ABV in the teens, this is not overtly sweet. There is plenty of sweetness there but it is dwarfed by the rich chocolate and coffee flavours and the intense bitterness. We're serving this sipping beer in 75 or 150 ml pours, so there's no need to be intimidated by the lofty alcohol level. Just pretend it's a sherry.

New Year's Eve Tapstravaganza

This Saturday night - also known as New Year's Eve - we're raiding the vault and bringing out many - too many - of our most prized kegs of imported beer. Fresh beer from Ballast Point, Bear Republic, Nøgne Ø, Coronado and Mikkeller will be all over our taps. Outside of the Pacific Beer Expo or Beervana you'll be hard pressed to find a lineup with as many exotic and sought after beers.

Liberty West Coast Blonde Ales

Last summer the very first beers from Liberty Brewing that we got to put on tap were Joe's West Coast Blonde Series. Joe made the same beer several times using different, single hops - Simcoe, Amarillo and Citra. As well as being delicious they were a fascinating opportunity to understand the character of the individual hops.

Liberty West Coast Blonde is back and this summer's Simcoe will be on tap any day. The worldwide shortage of Amercian hops means it's a while since a New Zealand commercial brewery produced a beer featuring Simcoe. But as a nano-brewer Joe Wood's requirements are modest compared to other breweries so for the foreseeable future (and at his current rate of production) Joe can keep us supplied with beers like these. Having said that the next in the series will be the same beer made with the local hop Pacific Jade.

December 22, 2011

Sentiments of the Season... Our Business During Xmas and New Year... Christmas Eve Music... New Release Tuesday...

Sentiments of the Season

It’s de rigueur at Christmas to reflect, show a little sentiment, invoke the spirit of the season and pass the result off as wisdom and goodwill. It’s time we tried the same.

2011 was Hashigo Zake’s second full calendar year. After a successful and enjoyable first year or so we might have been overdue a period of adversity when good fortune deserted us, competition sprang up and we suffered some kind of backlash. Perhaps all of those happened – our underground heritage premises threw up some significant expenses and a trickle of dissenters sniped at us on various electronic fora. Meanwhile since late 2010 there has been a goldrush-like outbreak of purported craft beer bars in Wellington.

We also created plenty of challenges voluntarily – trying to turn our importing operation into a serious business in its own right; launching our own festival; bringing a guest brewer all the way from Norway; and dabbling in other new lines of business such as corporate tastings, keg leasing and the distribution of New Zealand beer.

On top of this we and our customers and friends had to contend with an economic crisis, terrible natural disasters and a much hyped sporting event that wasn’t nearly as lucrative as predicted (even if it was, at times, good fun).

So to be still here, still trading, still enjoying ourselves and still consolidating our relationships with customers and suppliers feels like a bit of a triumph.

We aren’t in a hurry to put 2011 behind us (though we sympathise with those who do), but we’re looking forward to 2012 as much as anyone. The New Zealand craft beer industry is changing and growing faster than at any time before, so there has never been and may never be a better time to be fully involved in it.

Our Business During Xmas and New Year

Not everyone has the luxury of time off during this period and we don’t believe they should be further penalised by finding their preferred food and beverage outlets closed. Likewise Boxing Day shoppers surely have the right to have their thirst quenched after a long afternoon's bargain hunting. So we remain open every day that we’re allowed.

This means a single day off – Christmas Day. We’ll reopen at midday on Boxing Day, leaving plenty of time for certain customers to find a comfortable spot in front of a telly to watch the Boxing Day Cricket Test from Melbourne.

Now we’re far too new a business to have a lot of end of year rituals, but for the second time ever we’ll be running our nice and easy end of year survey asking what our regular customers really preferred in 2011 and what you think about an issue or two. It will be quick, un-taxing and participants won’t go into the draw for an iPad. We'll launch the survey as soon as 2011 is actually over.

Please read on to find out about our Christmas Eve entertainment and Tuesday's New Release. And be ready to accept next week's edition of this email to find out about our New Year's Eve Tapstravaganza.

Christmas Eve Music

The postponed Adam Page and the Counts gig is on this Saturday. And this Saturday happens to be Christmas Eve. That postponement was one of 2011's minor tragedies, such was the momentum the first three instalments of their four week residency had built up. We're hoping that enough of you are still in Wellington and looking for entertainment this Saturday to help make this free performance the climactic musical event it should be.

Remember that our legal obligation to close early on Christmas Eve means that the music starts at 9pm.

New Release Tuesday

Next Tuesday, December 27th (which should be one of our quietest evenings of 2011 or 2012), will be our first post-24/24 New Release Tuesday. We're kicking off this new tradition with a Danish Witbier. From 5pm next Tuesday we'll be serving our one and only keg of Mikkeller Vesterbro Wit. There can be no holiday for completists.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 15, 2011

The End of 24/24... Life After 24/24... What to do on 24/12... 666 Brewing... Six Beers on Now or Soon...

The End of 24/24

A few months ago Garage Project's 24/24 programme seemed an exhausting proposition whose eventual end was far too distant to contemplate. But somehow, suddenly it's 23 down and one to go. That final beer will be next Tuesday's Rum and Raisin. To many Rum and Raisin will sound more like an ice cream flavour than a beer style. And that would be kind of astute.

It turns out that Garage Project and a brand new local maker of "craft ice cream" called Wooden Spoon Creamery have been planning some kind of collaboration for a while, and the 24th beer of 24 will be it. The details are where it gets tricky:

  • Some time ago Garage Project brewed a Belgian Tripel and left it conditioning.
  • More recently a batch of organic raisins were left to "rehydrate" in 12 year old rum.
  • Those raisins, now bloated on rum, were transferred to the aforementioned Tripel.
  • After some time the beer/rum infused raisins were then extracted to be incorporated in an ice cream.
  • A portion of the rum-infused-raisin-infused beer was also used to make that ice cream*.

The best part is that Hashigo Zake is securing several litres of this rare ice cream and will serve scoops of it as an accompaniment to the beer from 5pm on Tuesday. We think it's a fitting, and sort-of Christmassy, way to close off the 24/24 project.

Note that servings of ice cream will be complimentary and will be offered until either the ice cream or the beer runs out.

* We say "was used to make..". In fact the ice cream will be made this weekend. We haven't been able to learn exactly where.

Life After 24/24

It may sound trite or even a little sad to some, but 24/24 really has changed Tuesdays for many of us. At the very least it's made Tuesday a busier night than Wednesday for the last few months, for which the management of Hashigo Zake will be forever grateful. We've also really appreciated the way that regular new releases have fostered an atmosphere of beer-focused scholarship.

So the end of 24/24 deserves to be marked in more ways than just giving away ice cream.

First of all, the next keg after Rum and Raisin will be a kind of a homage - Mikkeller Black. This extraordinary imperial stout is almost certainly the strongest beer ever served on tap in New Zealand. (It's 16.5% alcohol by volume.) For those wondering, it won't be in the usual serving size. In fact we've had to go out and buy port glasses so we have something small enough to serve it in.

Secondly, and as already mentioned, all Tuesdays are henceforward New Release Tuesdays. The tradition starts immediately, even though Tuesday week is December 27 and almost certainly one of the quietest nights of the year. Anyone coming into the bar at 5pm on the 27th can form a queue to sample the first glasses from a keg of Mikkeller Vesterbro Wit. This is a kind of "house wheat beer" made for the Mikkeller Bar in Vesterbro, Copenhagen.

What to do on 24/12

After building up last Saturday's planned performance by Adam Page and the Counts as much as possible, it was difficult, saddening and, well, anti-clamactic to have to postpone the gig on account of illness on the part of Adam himself. If anyone reading this was as disappointed as us then please accept our most sincere apologies.

Adam and his colleagues looked through their diaries (and Adam, Ed and Ricky are three in-demand musicians) and came up with a proposed new date of December 24th. Now on the surface choosing this date may seem like folly. On Christmas Eve in Wellington it seems standard practice to go home from work at midday and metaphorically wash off the stench of daily urban life. But this year Christmas Eve is a Saturday, most of you will have been off work since midday on the 23rd and we're gonna bet that after 24 hours sitting at home waiting for Santa you're all going to be desperate for the sophisticated, urban experience that comes from blending great music and beer. And when that moment comes, we're a short bus or taxi ride away.

Please note that because of our legal obligation to have none of you on the premises by the time Christmas Day rolls around, this gig will start at 9pm.

666 Brewing

A few of you will have heard of 666 Brewing. The rest of you should hear a lot more of it in 2012. It is the brewing company of Graeme Mahy, formerly the head brewer at Australia's Murray's and Blenheim's Moa.

Graeme has spent several years trying to stitch together a location and a company to brew for and signs are that his plans will come to fruition in 2012. If and when that happens we can all have high expectations, because his work at his previous employers, his influence on brewers such as Martin Townshend and the tiny batches of commercial brewing and home brewing that he's done in recent years show that Graeme is one of the country's most gifted brewers.

For the time being Graeme has found some spare capacity up in Hamilton to squeeze out a small batch of the beer he calls Gabriel B. It's described as a multi-national new world pseudo-pilsner, made with New Zealand hops, German and British malt and American and Belgian yeast. We're getting two kegs of this and the first will go on tap soon.

Six Beers on Now or Soon

Here's something no-one could have predicted. On soon will be a mild ale that is a collaboration between our regular favourite (and recent visitor) Nøgne ø and Japan's Tamamura Honten - an ancient sake brewery that has successfully tried its hand at beer in recent years under the name Shiga Kogen. The result is called Not So Mild and mustn't be confused with Liberty's upcoming Not Your Ordinary.

Epic's new Imperial Pilsner has reached us. Instead of following the pattern above and calling it, say, "Not a 5% Pilsner", they went with the more self-important title LARGER, which only succeeded in confusing the Dominion Post who shamefully mistook it for the work of a spelling-challenged hospo worker. LARGER - or preferably just Larger - will be on tap soon.

Another fresh keg of Coronado Brewing's Orange Avenue Wit will be on soon. Certain staff members reckon it's the best witbier we stock.

Last night we finally found a tap free for the first keg of our recent shipment of Ballast Point Big Eye IPA. This beer and its stablemate Sculpin IPA arrived late last month and our stock of bottles has been all but snapped up by bottle stores and supermarkets around the country. But we've retained good stocks of both beers in kegs, so it should be months before we run out here at Hashigo Zake.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

December 8, 2011

More Mikkeller... Adam Page and the Counts - Last Chance... Shock & Awe... The Pursuit of Hoppiness and Beer Bags... Remash... More Goodness... Fishhead...

More Mikkeller

For the last month or so we've been restoring our stocks of Mikkeller beer. Industrial action on the Auckland waterfront nearly interfered with our plans, but just today new stock arrived at our warehouse and some should be for sale by the weekend. So please allow us to tease you with a little background on some of the upcoming goodies.

In May this year, during the long twilight of a sunny spring evening at the edge of Copenhagen's Royal Danish Horticultural Society Garden, a few dozen of the world's luckiest diners assembled outside the restaurant known as Mielcke & Hurtigkarl. The occasion was a dinner to match and celebrate the beers of Three Floyds ('s number 1 brewery) and Mikkeller.

Before entering the restaurant a new beer was offered to those gathered. It was a Mikkeller beer brewed specially for, and named after, the restaurant - a strong Belgian pale ale aged in Château d'Yquem barrels. Yes, you read that right - a beer aged in not just any old Sauternes barrels, but ones that once held the world's most famous dessert wine.

The result was a beer that should change many people's opinion of how barrel ageing can change a beer. We have acquired just twelve 375ml bottles of Mielcke & Hurtigkarl, and they'll be for sale shortly for around $40 each.

At around the same time as the aforementioned dinner was the 2011 Copenhagen Beer Festival. Since 2009 Mikkeller have been releasing a festival beer with the name Stella. The 2011 release - Stella 2 - is a sour beer flavoured with cranberries. As well as acquiring a handful of this magnum-sized release, we've also managed to top up our stock of 2010's Stella 1, an imperial porter.

Look out too for a couple of extraordinary Mikkeller beers appearing on tap. For instance the last time we stocked bottles of the chipotle-infused Texas Ranger the staff drank most of it, which was fun for us but a little selfish. So we've picked up no fewer than three kegs of this monster. (And some bottles of the barrel-aged version.) We also have a single keg of Happy Lovin’ Christmas, which is actually a 7.8% IPA. Obviously we should find a slot for this beer before Boxing Day. Another that needs to be drunk soon is our single keg of American Dream. This is a 4.6% lager packed with American hops in the manner of a flamboyant IPA.

We're actually building up quite a stockpile of Mikkeller kegs. Most of these are the kinds of beer that can stand up to a little ageing (such as the 17% Imperial Stout simply called Black), so we'll be in no hurry to rush them to the taps. Alternatively it could be argued that our stash deserves a fitting event to serve a lot of them at once. Some kind of Mikkeller festival anyone?

Adam Page and The Counts - Last Chance

Last Saturday's instalment of our four week residency by Adam Page, Ricky Gooch and Ed Zuccollo reached new heights of musical coolness and, well, fun. It was pretty snug in the lounge, especially when special guest musicians joined in and then some ambitious attempts at dancing started. (Having said that there was no call for Steven's display and he'll be restrained in future.)

This week is your final chance to get along and enjoy this brief collaboration, which we think will be remembered for a long time. We can reveal that Hashigo Zake and the musical force that is Adam Page have begun discussions about hosting occasional gigs along similar lines in 2012. We'll never be a major music venue but what we've seen over the last three Saturdays has been too good to not try and repeat.

Shock and Awe

This IPA goes up to 11. (The brewer's boast, not ours.) The second to last of Garage Project's 24/24 is a full blown, American-style Imperial IPA. Apparently there's no hop shortage if you're only making 50 litres. But it could be a while before a commercial brewer in our part of the world gets to brew with this much Summit, Simcoe and Centennial again. From 5pm on Tuesday, but we make no promises about how long it will last.

By the way, there is still some left of this week's Garage Project release, Wee Heavy. It's not often we can say that on a Thursday, but it seems that Tuesday's very enjoyable Santa Session distracted everyone from a pretty special beer.

The Pursuit of Hoppiness and Beer Carriers

Copies of the new edition of the SOBA newsletter, The Pursuit of Hoppiness are available in the bar now. The new editor has been lucky enough to have a stunning full page ad on the back of the magazine to ensure that her first publication has maximum visual impact.

On an almost completely unrelated note, we have a suggestion for anyone scrambling to think of a Christmas present for the beer geek who otherwise has everything. Read on.


Many of you will be familiar with Mashup, the New Zealand Pale Ale developed collaboratively by a long list of New Zealand craft brewers, led by Luke and Kelly of Epic. One of the concepts of Mashup was that after the initial batch other breweries were free and encouraged to borrow the recipe and make it too. We gather that Martin Bennett of the Twisted Hop made a small batch a few months ago. Now Joseph Wood at Liberty has had a turn. Our first keg of Liberty Mashup is on right now.

As it happens we just took delivery of an order from Epic of several kegs each of Mashup and their new Imperial Pilsner LARGER, so there is a possibility in the near future of us having the two versions on in close succession, or maybe even simultaneously.

More Goodness

It seems wrong to just talk about the handful of beers mentioned above. There are other pretty special beers deserving to be singled out that are on tap now or will be soon. Specifically:

  • Cassel and Son's Big Ale - possibly the first time we've had a barley wine on a hand pump. With apologies to those expecting 3.7% session beers from the beer engines.
  • Croucher Raspberry Bock - just remember it's a rich, malty bock first and a fruit beer third.
  • Dale's Belgian Pale Ale - the one-time award winning homebrew, now brewed commercially for the third time, and described in detail by Geoff Griggs here.


Wellington magazine Fishhead are having their Christmas party at a nearby location next Thursday and Hashigo Zake is hosting the official After Party. It's open to all and starts at 9:30pm.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 1, 2011

The Return of Ballast Point... The 2011 Santa Session... The 2011 SOBA National Home Brew Competition... Adam Page and the Counts 3/4... Garage Project 22/24... Upcoming Treats... December...

The Return of Ballast Point

San Diego's Ballast Point was too busy with modifications to their brewery to supply us back in July. So when a container-load of fresh San Diego beer arrived last week, the inclusion of four pallets of bottles and kegs from Ballast Point was (probably) the most exciting part. So for the first time in months we have ultra-fresh bottles of Big Eye IPA and Sculpin IPA, with both appearing on tap in the next few weeks too.

For those unfamiliar with these beers, Sculpin is currently the third highest IPA on and, when fresh, is probably closer to a perfect encapsulation of American hop flavours than any other beer for sale in the southern hemisphere. And since our order was shipped direct from the brewery and kept refrigerated the whole time, we can guarantee that our Sculpin is fresh. If you've ever thought that debates over refrigerated shipping and grey market beer were too abstract to matter, come down and try Sculpin!

Now having talked up Sculpin, we should concede that some people prefer Big Eye IPA for it's rounder body and slightly different hopping.

But the good news from our latest shipment doesn't end with Sculpin and Big Eye. Ballast Point have sent our way a number of rare seasonals, albeit in kegs only. So over the coming weeks and months, look out for beers such as Dorado IIPA, Navigator Dopplebock, Brother Levonian Saison, Schooner Fresh Hop, Tongue Buckler, Sour Wench Blackberry Ale and Even Keel Session Ale.

And Coronado have come to the party too. As well as getting fresh stock of Islander IPA and Idiot IIPA, they've also filled our kegs with beers such as Wipeout Wheat and Imperial Stout.

These treats will find their way onto our taps in the coming weeks and months. Look out for some of them appearing in the New Release Tuesday slot after Garage Project's 24/24 finishes this month.

The 2011 SOBA National Home Brew Competition

Last week we were congratulating Dave and Shiggy on their respective showings at Regional Wines and Spirits Beer Options. Over the weekend the results of SOBA's National Home Brew Competition were announced and those same two took out an impressive and excessive number of medals. Not enough to head off the overall champion Zane Smith, but impressive none the less. Another staff member - Dylan Jauslin - also picked up a gold medal for his simplistically named "Good Ale".

Now the rate that gold medals were handed out certainly raised a few eyebrows. If the results are to be believed, New Zealand's homebrewers are making better beer than our commercial brewers. That's not as outrageous as it sounds, since homebrewers' smaller scale lets them make fewer compromises with respect to ingredients and process.

It also suggests that the rate at which New Zealand's leading homebrewers "turn pro" will be maintained or even increased. In fact, consider that a prediction for 2012.

The 2011 Santa Session

Speaking of SOBA, our second ever Santa Session is next week. Now this event is open to everyone, but we also want to treat it as an opportunity to have a Christmas beer with probably our most important customers - Wellington's SOBA members. Hence a whopping 33.3% discount on tickets to SOBA members.

The format is pretty simple :- we pile up case after case of beer whose time we believe has come and chill them and serve them as fast as possible. Attendees can collect a glass, come to our temporary serving station, and have it filled with whichever beer is being poured at the time. You can then came back and get it filled again pretty much as soon as you like.

Anyone who can keep up will probably get a glass of about ten different beers. Value for money shouldn't be an issue.

You can book here. We're limiting this to 50 places and at the time of writing around 30 have been snapped up.

Adam Page and The Counts 3/4

Instalment three of our series of gigs by Adam Page and the Counts is on Saturday at 11pm. Is there a better free gig in Wellington this weekend? Is there a better gig at any price, this weekend?

Garage Project 22/24

After two weeks of re-runs, next week features an all-new beer and it's number 22 in the 24/24 project. The last three are all big beers, next week's being a Wee Heavy. We're promised no more interruptions, with beers 23 and 24 coming along on the 13th and 20th.

As usual, the keg gets tapped at 5pm on Tuesday.

Upcoming Treats

There's a variety of unusual and new (to us) beers coming along in the next few days, and a few old favourites returning. Look out for:

  • More Cassell's beers for the hand pump - Milk Stout, ESB and their Barley Wine.
  • Croucher's Raspberry Bock.
  • Jamieson Brewery's The Beast.
  • Our second keg of the new 8 Wired Wheat Ale known as Haywired.
  • Coronado Idiot IPA.


Being the 1st of December it seems an opportune time to talk about some of the ways that our operations might deviate from the usual over the summer months and the Christmas break. Rest assured that we'll continue to open our door every day at midday with one exception - Christmas Day. Now a stroll along Courtenay Place on Christmas Day, Good Friday or Easter Sunday shows that plenty of businesses find a loophole that lets them open on those days, but if the law says that on three days a year we have to take a holiday, there are other issues more worthy of a fight. But we'll be open again on Boxing Day.

We will be applying NO public holiday surcharges. Again if the law says that people working for a wage on a public holiday have to be remunerated generously, what sort of petty business owner would take out their frustrations on their valued paying customers? We'll also observe the usual conditions of our SOBA discount, so on Boxing Day and New Year's Day (and others) SOBA members can continue to get a large tap beer for the price of a small one.

We'll also continue to observe our advertised closing times. I.e. no earlier than 11pm (and no earlier than 1am on Friday and Saturday nights except on Christmas Eve when we're obliged to close early).

In reality, the only difference that customers should notice during the Christmas/New Year holiday period is a little less competition for seats.

In January of this year we ran what we thought was a pretty amusing survey of what people's favourite beers of 2010 were. We like to think that the 2010 results were a pretty revealing indicator of what craft beers and breweries really shone last year, with an acknowledged bias being run by and for Hashigo Zake. (Yes, when we run a popularity contest, we acknowledge any built-in biases!) So look for the Hashigo Zake Survey of Customers' 2011 Favourites in the New Year.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 24, 2011

Frantic Days... Townshend... Adam Page and the Counts... Garage Project 22/24...

Frantic Days

These are frantic days at HZHQ. We have a container load of ultra-fresh Californian beer somewhere between the wharf and our warehouse, we're working day and night to spread the word about Nøgne ø beer while the brewery's head brewer is in New Zealand and we're planning for next week's Townshend tasting. Even so two of our staff found time to do particularly well at last night's Regional Wines and Spirits Beer Options Competition. (Dave's team made it three wins in a row, while Shiggy's were hot on their heals.)

So please understand if this week's news is low on details.

We can report with pleasure though, that the visit of Nøgne ø's Kjetil Jikiun has been a roller coaster of brewery visits, interviews, collaborative brews, formal and informal tastings but most of all a LOT of travel in planes, cars and boats. If our goal was to exhaust our guest then we may just have succeeded. We are indebted to the energetic, charismatic and knowledgeable Kjetil and his business partner and wife Cathie for their commitment to this whirlwind tour.

It's important that we acknowledge the assistance of the fabulous Museum Art Hotel, near us over on Cable St, for putting up our guests here in Wellington.


As previously mentioned our tasting dedicated to the work of ex-pat Englishman and Nelson ale brewer Martin Townshend is creeping up on us. This tasting takes place on November 29 at 6:30pm. You can book at the bar or here.

Adam Page and The Counts

We had high expectations for last Saturday's first instalment by Adam Page and the Counts and those of us who squeezed into the lounge that night weren't disappointed. Our first use of the room for a late night gig proved that it's a fantastic and intimate venue for music of this kind, even if Adam banged his head on one of the light fittings disturbingly often.

This series of gigs continues next Saturday at 11pm and continues for three more lively, skilled and thoroughly entertaining Saturday nights. And best of all there is no charge.

Garage Project 22/24

Actually the 22nd beer is going to wait another week as the guys toy with us by returning with another rebrew. After all this is an exercise in research and development, and part of research is repeating your experiments. That means the 22nd, 23rd and 24th brews will fittingly come out on the last three Tuesdays before Xmas (and well before the end of 24 weeks).

So it's to be a rebrew of Pernicious Weed which some of us remember as being a particular hit back on August 2nd when the guys brought their first three beers down to Hashigo Zake. It's a 7.5% assault of Rakau and Nelson Sauvin hops, named in honour of the threat to social and moral standards that the hop plant represented in the 1500s and perhaps does again today.

We've heard whispers that the embryonic brewery might be close to ordering more brewing equipment that won't be so.. er.. bonsai. While it will be slightly sad for Hashigo Zake that our privileged position as the brewery's only regular outlet will be lost, it really will be great for everyone if more of their recipes get brewed on full-sized equipment.

November 17, 2011

Second Thoughts... Townshend... Adam Page and the Counts... Garage Project 21.5/24... On Tap Soon...

Second Thoughts

It looks as though we may, for once, have over-estimated what kinds of events you, our customers were ready for. Our banquet to celebrate the visit of one of the world's most gifted and charismatic brewers was always ambitious and holding it on the same Sunday as Toast Martinborough may just have been expecting too much. So we're no longer taking bookings for this Sunday's planned event.

Instead we'll be welcoming Nøgne Ø's Kjetil Jikiun to Hashigo Zake in more informal fashion on Sunday evening, prior to his hectic schedule of collaborative brewing and media engagements.

Anyone still keen to meet a Scandinavian brewing legend might want to consider hanging out in the bar in the early evening of Sunday or Monday.


As previously mentioned our tasting dedicated to the work of ex-pat Englishman and Nelson ale brewer Martin Townshend is creeping up on us. This tasting takes place on November 29 at 6:30pm. You can book at the bar or here.

Adam Page and The Counts

And as if this month didn't have enough special occasions, this is a good time to remind everyone of our first ever musical "residency". For four Saturdays, starting on the 19th of November, we're hosting our favourite new Wellingtonian Adam Page and his band The Counts in our lounge for some late night jazz.

This series of gigs starts at around 11pm each night and there is no charge.

Garage Project 21.5/24

With the last few instalments of Garage Project's 24 experimental beers being somewhat high on gravity, some of these monsters are proving slow to mature. Which means there won't be a new beer ready for next Tuesday. In its place will be a repeat of one of the previous entries that the brewery thinks has particular promise for them. That beer is Red Rocks.

Way back in September the first batch of Red Rocks was described as a ruby red ale with a nice caramel body and an over-generous amount of whole cone Nelson Sauvin hops. A small volume of it will be available from pm on Tuesday.

On Tap Soon

As usual, there are some pretty tasty treats due on tap over the next few days. Look out for:

  • Perth's (and probably Australia's) best brewery, Feral, is keen to put one of the world's most esoteric hops to good use. That hop is the Japan-bred Sorachi Ace. In theory Golden Ace is a Belgian golden ale. In reality it's a vehicle for the hop world's answer to the durian. It's a beer that leaves you questioning just what flavours should be brought into a beer by hops, and yet it somehow works. It will be back on tap over the weekend.
  • Green Flash Imperial IPA and Hop Head Red - we're hanging on for new stocks of Green Flash bottled beers, but we have a few kegs left of some of their hop monsters from our previous shipment.
  • Hopwired. Any more information needed?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 10, 2011

Dining Event of the Year... Townshend... Adam Page and the Counts... A Good Thing... Garage Project 21/24... On Tap Soon... Mikkeller in the Fridge...

Dining Event of the Year

As mentioned last week, we're very excited about the event at the centre of what is a surprisingly busy November for us. To the best of our knowledge, our Zibibbo / Hashigo Zake / Nøgne Ø Banquet, with Nøgne Ø Head Brewer Kjetil Jikiun in attendance, is about the most ambitious food and beer event staged in New Zealand this year. The matching of Zibibbo's rich, Mediterranean-inspired cuisine with the ambitious, complex beers of Nøgne Ø should be compelling.

The dinner takes place on Sunday, November 20 at 6pm (not 7pm as previously stated). Ticket holders can come down to Hashigo Zake from 5pm and enjoy a pre-dinner drink from Nøgne Ø's range from our taps. Tickets cost $165 ($150 to SOBA members) and are on sale at Hashigo Zake. Full price tickets are also available online here. Places are limited.


We have one other pretty special event before the end of the month as well. It's our first ever tasting dedicated to the beers of Martin Townshend. We're already seeing a disproportionate number of bookings coming from customers with English origins, but it will be nice to hear some other accents too. This tasting is on November 29 at 6:30pm. You can book at the bar or here.

Adam Page and The Counts

And as if this month didn't have enough special occasions, this is a good time to remind everyone of our first ever musical "residency". For four Saturdays, starting on the 19th of November, we're hosting our favourite new Wellingtonian Adam Page and his band The Counts in our lounge for some late night jazz.

This series of gigs starts at around 11pm each night and there is no charge.

New Release Tuesday

Don't say we don't know a good thing when we see it. Garage Project's 24/24 programme of rapid fire experiments in brewing is nearing its end, but the cycle of Tuesday releases has been so much fun for all concerned that it would be tragic not to continue it.

Now we'll leave it up to Garage Project to explain the next phase in their plan for world domination, but we believe we will still see experimental beers from them, just not at the rate of one a week. Meanwhile we receive a steady flow of new beers from other local and overseas breweries. (In fact we generally put on around four new beers a week!) But few of these beers receive the fanfare they deserve. So when 24/24 is over the tradition of a release at 5pm every Tuesday will live on.

Garage Project 21/24

As mentioned, we're into the home straight of 24/24, and there are hints that none of the last four will be in any way small. On Tuesday it will be an American Barley Wine going by the name Hellbender. In Pete's own words:

A powerful American style barleywine with a huge malt grist and a hop bill responsible for consuming the last of our not insubstantial supplies of Amarillo, Centennial and Columbus hops. Big malt, big hops.

On Tap Soon

As usual, there are some pretty tasty treats due on tap over the next few days. Look out for:

  • ParrotDog's second beer and one of the hits of the Pacific Beer Expo - the hoppy red ale Bloodhound.
  • A rare keg of Invercargill Boysenbeery.
  • Our last keg of the 2011 batch of Renaissance MPA.
  • A one-off keg of Baird's wilfully tasty brown ale known as Angry Boy.

Mikkeller in the Fridge

As mentioned last week, we just received a small amount of a few Mikkeller beers. This afternoon we're going to try and find room for some of them in the fridge.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

November 3, 2011

Celebrity Visitor... Speaking of Scandinavian Beer.. Townshend Tasting... Hard Act To Follow... Spiced Beer Season...

Celebrity Visitor

This month we're organising what is for us a completely new kind of venture. We invited Kjetil Jikiun, founder and head brewer at Norway's Nøgne Ø, to come and visit New Zealand as our guest and he has accepted.

We think the Nøgne Ø story is of uncanny relevance to New Zealand's booming craft brewing sector. Kjetil started the Nøgne Ø brewery with no justifiable expectation of success - Norway had little history of craft brewing, a conflicted attitude to alcohol consumption and high excise tax. But by producing beers of uncompromising character and quality and taking advantage of export markets early on the brewery survived and helped foster the local market which is now more accepting.

(For more background on the brewery, read this blog entry.)

Kjetil will only be in New Zealand for a short time and we're trying to show him around and introduce him to some local brewers. But we're organising one major public event :- we're collaborating with our neighbour (and landlord!) Zibibbo restaurant on a meal so extravagant that rather than call it a degustation or beer dinner, we're calling it a Banquet.

One of many highlights of the banquet will be serving the result of a previous Nøgne Ø collaboration. A year ago Kjetil and Mikkel Borg Bjergsø of Mikkeller visited Scotland's Brewdog where they came up with a hybrid of their respective uber-strong imperial stouts - Mikkeller Black, Brewdog Tokyo* and Nøgne Ø Dark Horizon. The result was Black Tokyo* Horizon and we're looking forward to trying it with dessert.

The Nøgne Ø - Zibibbo - Hashigo Zake Banquet takes place on Sunday, November 20 at 7pm. Tickets will cost $165 ($150 to SOBA members) and will be on sale at Hashigo Zake from Monday November 7. Places are limited.

Speaking of Scandinavian Beer..

It's been a while since we took delivery of anything new from Mikkeller. That just changed because as this is being written a pallet has arrived at our chilled warehouse. Unlike previous batches from Mikkeller, this shipment is mainly made up of kegged beer, which means that we'll soon be offering the likes of 1000IBU, Big Worse Barleywine and Black on tap. Yes you read that right. We may have to revisit our policy of not serving shots...

Townshend Tasting

To those of our customers sporting English accents it's likely that Martin Townshend is our most popular supplier. Martin is an ex-pat pom himself who has turned his hobby into a mission to create authentic English-style ales at his small brewery in Rosedale, Nelson. Those beers have become a mainstay on our beer engines.

It is a pleasure then to host a tasting dedicated to celebrating Martin's contribution to the New Zealand craft beer scene and work our way through most or perhaps all of his range.

This tasting will take place at 6:30pm on November 29. Tickets cost $35. You can book and pay at the bar or at

Hard Act to Follow

This week's Garage Project release broke all their previous sales records (gone in about 70 minutes) and it may just have been the most universally popular. So the chilli chocolate black lager was a welcome reminder that experimentation can yield great results, since a few people with hyper-sensitive palates seemed to struggle with the green coffee bean saison.

So suddenly expectations must be high again when the guys wander in next week with Home Bake. It's described as a spiced roast kumera ale, playing on the new tradition of pumpkin beers (that should arguably be called cinnamon/nutmeg beers) that often appear at this time of year. Apparently cubes of kumera were tossed in brown sugar, roasted until caramelised, then thrown into the boil with cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla beans.

It does beg the question - if and when these Garage Project experiments are scaled up to a much bigger plant, will they employ assistant brewers or kitchen hands?

Spiced Beer Season

Continuing on the theme of seasonal spiced beers, we can provide updates on a couple of beers of interest to many of you.

  • The remains of our single keg of Brewaucracy Bean Counter, the vanilla bean infused porter that was released at the Pacific Beer Expo, are on tap right now.
  • A single 20L keg of the second batch of Brewaucracy Punkin Image Limited is in our clutches. We thought of getting it out for Halloween, but have been advised that the fourth Thursday of November will be a more fitting occasion for it.

Greig McGill of Brewaucracy assures us that it was never his intention to create a brewery dedicated to spiced beers and that something far more experimental and less spicy is on its way.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

October 27, 2011

El Día de los Muertos... Wine... Pacific Beer Expo T Shirts...

El Día de los Muertos

Believe it or not, this will be the 19th beer in Garage Project's 24/24 exercise. This time it's a Chilli Chocolate black lager. Or to quote the flyer many of you found in your festival glasses at the Pacific Beer Expo:

brewed with smoked chipotle chili, refermented with organic blue agave syrup (the basis of Tequila) and conditioned over raw cocoa nibs - rich and dark, Day of the Dead is smooth and drinkable with a complex mix of smoke, chocolate and restrained chili heat.

For those wondering, the Mexican Day of the Dead - which some of us may know as the day after Halloween, and others will know as All Saints Day - coincides conveniently with next Tuesday's release.

Beer #18 - also People's Project #2 - has succeeded in dividing people this week, to the extent that it has moved relatively slowly. It seems that the unroasted coffee beans impart flavours and aromas that some find unpleasant. To some of us the beer is simply a Saison with a hard-to-pin-down additional character. It certainly has been baffling drinkers since Tuesday and may continue to baffle us for a day or two longer. We consider this a bonus.


Talk of wine at Hashigo Zake is normally drowned out by beer talk. Arguably this is just desserts considering the dismissive treatment beer often receives from many quarters with an interest in promoting wine. But we like to be above petty jealousy since sneering at beer is usually done by those who don't really understand what they're drinking themselves, let alone what others might be drinking. It is our aim to give wine far more respect at Hashigo Zake than beer typically gets in wine bars.

To this end we have had a dedicated and semi-independent wine consultant working on our wine list for several months. It's time we passed on some notes from her:

Over last few months, we’ve had a focus on subtly changing our small but perfectly formed wine list of 17 hand-picked NZ wines.

  • We now focus on the smaller NZ wineries, largely family or independently owned.
  • We use the various wine competitions to select the best quality wines (mostly Gold Award wines) at reasonable price points.
  • We care for the majority of our wines, by using an Enomatic inert gas preservation system. “The flavours and characteristics of the wine remain intact for more than three weeks, as if the bottle had just been opened” say Enomatic. We wouldn’t know – our bottles are very rarely around that long.
  • The winter months have seen a focus on warm reds from Otago, Marlborough and Hawkes Bay. That doesn’t mean the whites have suffered, and we have added Kumeu Village Chardonnay and Forrest The Doctors Riesling onto our list recently.
  • We use table talkers in the bar, and the daily menu to keep you up to date with the changing wines.

If anyone has feedback or comments about the wine offering at Hashigo Zake, please contact as we are always looking at ways to improve your enjoyment – and would love to hear from the wine drinkers amongst you.

Pacific Beer Expo T-Shirts

The kegs have been dropped off, tapped and taken away again, the beer brats and curry have been consumed and the venue has been returned to its owners. We'll probably spend weeks picking over the bones of this one, but the important thing for now is to thank the participants and volunteers who came along and took part in a thoroughly enjoyable and colourful event over Labour weekend.

Having said that there is another important duty - many of you wanted event t-shirts but your sizes had run out. Sean Golding's design came out remarkably well and it is tempting to keep supply short, let the black market turn it into a collectors item and watch the price go through the roof. But instead we'll get the supplier to run off some extra prints and keep everyone happy. So could anyone who would like one, please submit an order by Monday by replying to this email? The price will be $35.

Unlike the shirts, we did oversupply ourselves with festival glasses, so extras can be bought here at Hashigo Zake at the absurd price of just $5.

We've also had at least one request to post some of the photos taken over the weekend. So here is everyone's chance to relive the thrills, beers, sunshine and, ahem, the beards of the Pacific Beer Expo 2011: Thanks to photographers Steve Cossaboom, Dylan Jauslin and whoever else grabbed the camera and went nuts over the weekend.

Naturally we made sure that there was more than enough beer to go around on Saturday and Sunday, meaning that there are an awful lot of unfinished kegs crowding our storage facilities. These will all turn up on our taps over the next week or so, making the Pacific Beer Expo the festival that keeps on festering. We can look forward to second helpings of local rarities such as Brewaucracy Bean Counter, Liberty C!tra, Renaissance Tribute Barley Wine and maybe even 8 Wired Double Brown. From the rest of the Pacific there may also be the last of the last keg of Coronado Saison by the Sea, a little of the only keg of Baird West Coast Wheat Wine and some of the two incarnations of Feral Hop Hog ("regular" and barrel-fermented).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

October 20, 2011

Final Pacific Beer Expo Briefing... Upcoming Garage Releases... New Music Experiment...

Final Pacific Beer Expo Briefing

We have one final piece in the puzzle to announce about the lineup this weekend. One of the first beers we announced and then had to de-announce was Yeastie Boys' His Majesty 2011. Since then Stu has been promising a substitute to blow us all away and it will be xeRRex. For those who aren't satisfied with the 100% peat-smoked malt beer known as Rex Attitude, Yeastie Boys have set out to make the peatiest even peatier, apparently by using even more peat-smoked malt. The result is a 10%ABV version of Rex Attitute.

Now when Rex Attitude was released bars around New Zealand and Australia discovered that its presence remains long after the keg it came in is empty. Any beer poured through the same line for weeks afterwards continues to give up a tell-tale peaty note. Rather than risk tainting one of our own portable beer systems, or even one that we're borrowing, we'll be pouring this beer direct from the single use vessel it's transported in, through a disposable tap, into glasses.

Here are some more practical details for those of you bursting with curiosity:

  • Your souvenir festival glass is a smaller version of the US Pint glass that we use at the bar. They are etched with the festival logo. We actually think they're rather desirable and in case you agree there will be a few extra for sale. Note that at 285ml they do make our standard serving size of 100ml look a little puny, although you can always order a double serving of beer.
  • All beers, regardless of reputation or ABV will cost one token ($2.50) per 100ml sample.
  • Everyone gets a set of starting tokens - eight, of which two are "food only" - which may be enough for some of you, but not nearly enough for others. When you need more you can return to the front desk and get more, or use the token issuing kiosk, which doubles as the glass swap station.
  • There will be merchandise for sale at the front desk - t shirts and glassware, including extra of our festival glasses.
  • There will be good, solid, tasty food on sale, prepared by our own in-house part-time chefs, Sam and Shiggy. Recent Wellington beer festivals (Matariki, Beervana) have set a pretty high bar for food, but we're confident that our menu on Saturday and Sunday will hold its own.
  • We haven't yet managed to completely sell the event out, so we expect to be still selling tickets from Hashigo Zake up until the start time each day.

Upcoming Garage Releases

The experimentation going on in Aro Valley's former service station and garage continues at a heady pace. It would be reasonable to expect that providing three beers at this weekend's Pacific Beer Expo would exhaust their stocks of trial batches. But no, they're back on schedule next week with what is allegedly their most experimental beer yet. It's the second in their series-within-a-series - their collaboration with People's Coffee. In their own words:

People’s Project No. 2. Perhaps our most experimental and avant garde offer yet. A strong spicy golden Saison, infused with green unroasted coffee beans. Inspired by the pungent earthy aroma of green coffee beans, this beer is sure to polarise drinkers. Truly unique, No. 2 might be our finest hour, or our greatest failure. Try some and decide for yourself.

The week after will come another experiment whose details sound no less avant garde. We're not sure how much we're supposed to say about November 1's beer, but more details will be divulged at the Pacific Beer Expo.

New Music Experiment

If we ranked our favourite customers (and honestly, we don't) then new Wellingtonian Adam Page would be near the top. As well as being a celebrated and multi-skilled musician he's a passionate lover of good beer, which brought him to our premises on one of his earlier, less permanent visits to Wellington and he's been a regular and popular visitor ever since.

So there couldn't be anyone more suitable to be first to collaborate with us on a new venture - late night gigs in our lounge. On four successive Saturdays from November 19 to December 10 Adam Page and the Counts will appear in our very own subterranean venue. We'll elaborate a little more in the coming weeks.

November is normally a quiet month for us, but with the help of Adam and one or two other pretty special guests we're hoping to turn that on its head. We'll divulge more next week, if and when we've recovered from this weekend's activities.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October 13, 2011

Clayton's Project... Pacific Beer Expo... On Tap Soon...


Some weeks it seems as though all the most interesting news happened last week or will happen next week. It really defies common sense that we can scrape together enough material here in what is really quite a small business to bother you all every week. Which is a roundabout way of downplaying expectations for what follows.

Maybe the next time we hit writer's block it will be good to have a stock of topics to meditate or even pontificate on. Feel free to propose any.

Clayton's Project

The guys at Garage Project have been threatening to not deliver a new beer for a number of weeks now. Next week they're going to deliver on that threat - after a fashion. Instead of a new beer they're bringing along their second "rebrew". It's another batch of Golden Brown. At the time (about seven weeks ago) it was described as "a nice juicy Brown Ale with plenty of hop character... Pale, Crystal, Chocolate and Aromatic Malt, with Columbus, Cascade and Ahtanum Hops. 6.2% @ 55BU."

At the time it drew lots of compliments and the words "best yet" may even have been muttered. This release we have when we're not having a release starts at 5pm on Tuesday.

To be completely fair, we should draw attention to the fact that Garage Project will be releasing more than one new beer next week, but all that will take place at the Pacific Beer Expo.

Pacific Beer Expo

After putting most of our cards on the table last week there is limited information left to impart about Labour Weekend's lineup. Or so you would think. In fact there are already one or two retractions to make, and some additions to announce.

First of all, we and Epic have decided that this event is not the time to release one of their few remaining kegs of Portermarillo. To compensate, but not replace, we can announce the first release of the second ParrotDog beer. The Matts have said a little about this new beer called Bloodhound Red Ale. It's described as a dark red ale built around floor malted maris otter malt with plenty of aroma and bitterness from liberal use of New Zealand hops. But the exact nature of the beer seems secondary when compared to the burning question: will it create the same kind of hysteria that BitterBitch did back on July 27?

On Tap Soon

While some rock star beers are waiting for their moment at the Pacific Beer Expo, some equally meritorious but longer established beers have found their way into our possession. In particular we've somehow acquired a keg of Three Boys Oyster Stout. It seems far too late in the year for this beer to appear - perhaps it's a show of support for a team wearing black.

In fact waiting to come on are most of the Three Boys range - Pils, Wheat, IPA, Golden Ale and the aforementioned Oyster Stout.

There are other rarities from the South Island coming up too. For starters we have not one but two new beers from Golden Eagle - Raindogs Amber and Summer Blonde. And Roger Pink has been brewing again, allowing us to pick up some Pink Elephant Mammoth for the hand pump.

More of Yeastie Boys' glorious accident - Red Rackham - is waiting to come on as well. This time it's imposing as a beer for the hand-pump.

We've a couple of Northern Californian beers returning to the taps too - Bear Republic's highly recommended Jack London ESB and from Moylan's their gratuitously bitter Nor*Cal IPA and Chelsea's Porter.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

October 6, 2011

People's Project... Pacific Beer Expo - The Mother of All Announcements... Crime and Punishment... This Weekend...

People's Project

Next week we welcome the first fruits of a partnership that has been developing for a month or two now between the Garage Project and People's Coffee. There are whispers of a series of coffee-infused beers but first up is the beer simply known as People's Project No. 1.
It's described as "a rich, smooth dark roast coffee bockbier. This is a warming 7% bock with a complex malt character and a generous dose of rich and intense black coffee. It's a beer that we hope captures the best qualities of both of our favourite beverages."
As usual it will be available from 5pm on Tuesday. Recent releases have run out a little more than 24 hours after going on tap.

The Pacific Beer Expo - The Mother of All Announcements

With only two weeks to go the time for announcing a beer or two at a time is over. It's time we revealed many of the Californian beers that some of the participants must be holding out for. Few if any of these will be a surprise to regular customers. But we've never come close to having this many on tap at once and only a handful have been available anywhere else before in New Zealand.
  • Bear Republic Carburator Doppelbock
  • Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye
  • Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA
  • Coronado Islander IPA
  • Green Flash Double Stout
  • Green Flash West Coast IPA
  • Moylan's Nor*Cal IPA
Yes that list does include no fewer than four IPAs, and if we included every American beer that we have at our disposal the event would be in danger of turning into an IPA festival. Perhaps some people would prefer that. But we are relying on some of our local brewers to help avoid that not so terrible fate.
And so we take great pleasure in announcing another local beer that we hadn't expected to become available for the festival, but has. It's from Brewaucracy - the embryonic Hamilton brewing entity that came up with the ludicrously popular Punkin Image Ltd. This time it's a vanilla porter called Bean Counter. Apparently 300 litres have been consumed in and around Hamilton before Wellington gets our ration of a single 50L keg.

Crime and Punishment

We've been the victim of petty theft and vandalism since before we opened. This is, apparently, normal. Occasionally someone is stupid enough to commit these acts in a way that lets us know exactly who they are, or at least exactly what they look like. So rather than take such abuses lying down and paying for our losses out of takings we do like to be pro-active when we can.
Late last Saturday three customers were caught on security cameras poking, prodding, rolling and unrolling then eventually folding and sneaking off with one of our new, custom-made barmats. We also found footage of them attempting to take an empty keg with them as an extra souvenir.
Now the cost of one of these barmats is not particularly high and we have been victims of far worse. But it was still a pretty galling slap in the face, and since the theft took place in an area where security cameras routinely capture footage (that is almost completely ignored normally) we decided to let the thieves know that we knew what they'd done.
The result ended up on youtube, with links to it from facebook and twitter. After a little discussion and some dissent about the lengths we went to over our property, the message must have got through to the culprits and we received a phone call last evening offering apologies and a promise to return it. If all goes according to plan, then at about the time you read this the item is being returned and the footage removed from youtube.
Finally yesterday must have been a slow news day because the Dominion Post called later to get some quotes and write the incident up here.
Now if people want to suggest that this is an extreme and possibly privacy-threatening way to react to the theft of something of little value, then you may well have a point. Especially since we are frequently the victims of other acts of theft that we don't happen to catch on camera and so don't get to embarrass the perpetrators of.
But the fact is that causing shame to perpetrators like this is pretty much the only effective tool we have if we want to contain petty crimes against our business that doesn't intrude on the innocent. And every little theft like this creates a cost to our business.
We've since learned that our friends at Croucher Brewery have just been the victim of opportunistic thieves who took off with a large amount of their valuable stock. It goes without saying that the brewery have our sympathy.
No doubt the perpetrators of the kind of petty theft that we suffer from would differentiate themselves from the kind who would steal large amounts of stock from a working brewery. As if taking shiny things from a bar somehow gets an exemption from the legal code. But in the end each and every loss inflicted on us is a cost to our business and eventually to our customers. In fact on one occasion the victim of a theft that we used our security cameras to study was not us but a customer. So we don't apologise for being "anal" and "pissy" about these things, as we've been accused of.
Now part of our problem could be that many of the things we have for use in the bar are just so damned nice to have. Would it help then if we made some of available for sale? We can do that with some of our glassware. The custom-printed glasses of the American breweries we import are items that we can restock in future. So from today our Rogue, Green Flash, Bear Republic and Coronado glasses are officially for sale for $10 each.
Will this help or does merchandise have to be stolen to have cachet? If would-be thieves paid for their glass but told their friends that they'd stolen it, maybe everyone would save face.

This Weekend

Regulars will have observed that for all the hype and the throngs attending the Auckland waterfront, the event that we cannot name has made only an occasional difference to everyday life at Hashigo Zake. But Wellington's "biggest weekend ever" arrives this weekend and perhaps those who don't embrace the thought of rugby-inspired all night partying are planning to avoid downtown Wellington.
So our current expectation is that, for us, Saturday and Sunday will be a little like the Sevens:- while chaos reigns in Courtenay Place, we'll carry on in much the same manner as usual, except for the odd inappropriately dressed, dazed and face-painted refugee wandering in. We will have a security guard and we definitely won't be serving the sponsor's product, so we may just be about the safest place in the vicinity of Courtenay Place.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September 29, 2011

Next Week's Festivities #1... Next Week's Festivities #2... Rogue... Garage Projector... Red Rackham... Another Pacific Beer Expo Teaser... Sport on Telly... Snack Foods...

Next Week's Festivities #1

At the time of writing two pallets of beer from Nøgne Ø are fighting the traffic created by busloads of tourists and making their way from some northern port to our warehouse. This is the first time we've shipped beer directly from the Nøgne Ø brewery rather than via their Australian importer. As a result we had much more choice than before, particularly with respect to kegs. Not only that, we managed to snag space in a refrigerated container for the journey from Europe, which is pretty fortuitous.

The icing on the cake is that this more direct method of shipping has resulted in lower prices. Yes, you read that right - we've saved some money and are going to pass those savings on.

To celebrate, we're hosting a tasting on Tuesday of Nøgne Ø beer. By coincidence Tokyo-based beer writer Tim Eustace happens to be in Wellington. Tim has been associated with Hashigo Zake since well before we opened and is also a long-standing friend of Nøgne Ø's founder Kjetil Jikuin. He thought he was in Wellington to watch rugby, but we're coercing him into providing his insight into Norway's most adventurous brewery.

More details and bookings are at the Cult Beer Store.

Next Week's Festivities #2

We've had a steady flow of overseas visitors over the last couple of weeks and the influx should reach a new peak over the next 10 days or so, with the capital's last four games in the tournament we are forbidden to name. The question on everyone's lips is: what will we do with these foreign guests between games?

We have a solution for next Monday at least. We're taking a mini-bus to Martinborough for a thinking person's tour of good drinking and eating. Sadly Martinborough is without a brewery these days, but nearby Carterton has Crooked Cider so our tour will take in their business to break the monotony of one great Martinborough pinot after another. There will be a high quality winery lunch too. If you have an out of town visitor with gaps in their schedule send them down to us. More info is available at the bar.


Nøgne Ø isn't the only brewery that we are taking a delivery from this week. After about six months asking, negotiating and, well, head-scratching, we've finally got a long awaited refresh of our stocks of Rogue.

There isn't a single beer in this shipment that we haven't had before, but the long absence of beers like Dead Guy, Chipotle Ale and Mocha Porter should make up for any lack of novelty.

Having said that, there is one innovation of a sort in this order. The high strength "XS" beers that previously came in magnificent but daunting 750ml ceramic bottles now come in 207ml bottles. You can expect to see them on our shelves by early next week.

Garage Projector

The Garage Project are all about experimentation and next week it's time for yet another unexpected turn. Their next beer is their lowest in alcohol so far at 4.5% and their first wheat beer. In their own words:

A light golden straw colour, this beer is based on the Belgian Wit style but with an orange and cardamom twist. This is not a hop driven beer. Instead it has an aromatic hit from the late addition red grapefruit, tangelo, orange and lemon peel, camomile flowers, vanilla bean and freshly crushed green cardamom.

Apparently they're still trying to settle on a "witty" name.

But there are several other pieces of good news too. Firstly the brewers have decided that it's time to start revisiting some of the early beers and are making random kegs of some of these re-tests available to us. Waiting to come on soon are twenty litres of a slightly modified Trip Hop.

More good news awaits in the news below regarding the Pacific Beer Expo.

Red Rackham

An unplanned Yeastie Boys release has turned up on our doorstep. We're not sure how open Stu and Sam want to be about this little misadventure, but we think that this love child of one of their regular beers and an interloping yeast strain may have more legitimacy than they realise. When there was indecision about whether to recognise this strong, amber and oddly Flemish-accented beer, we said send it to us. The result - Red Rackham - will be on tap very shortly.

There is an unfortunate consequence of this improvised beer. See below under today's news regarding the Pacific Beer Expo.

Another Pacific Beer Expo Teaser

For the first and hopefully last time, we have some bad news to announce. The aforementioned "improvisation" that led to the Yeastie Boys Red Rackham has thrown out their production schedule. As a result His Majesty 2011 won't be ready by Labour weekend. We're confident that this week's announcements will make up for that setback.

Now for the good news.

Liberty Brewing will be present at the festival. In fact Joseph Wood has said he'll come down from the 'Naki for it. He'll be bringing a new batch of his C!tra Imperial IPA. This may just be the closest he's come to what was the beer of 2010 for some of us - his Summ!t Imperial IPA. (We'd encouraged Joe to brew Summ!t again, but sadly the hops weren't available.)

And speaking of lower North Island nano-breweries, Garage Project will be rubbing shoulders with our iconic Pacific imports too. They have no fewer than three beers planned, starting with the in-theme Ring of Fire. This is a strong pale ale hopped with some of the most famous varieties from the four countries included in the festival. That means Sorachi Ace from Japan (though grown in the US), Centennial and Amarillo from the US, Galaxy from Australia and Nelson Sauvin from the South Island. Whose accent will be heard above the din?

But over-delivering on variety has been Garage Project's signature. They've invested in a couple of 20L casks for "gravity dispensing". This is a posh way of saying the beer comes straight from a hole in the container. The beauty is that of all possible means of dispensing beer this one should have the least potential for interference from oxidation.

For these two dispensers they are brewing two beers. One is an ANZAC beer, inspired not by sacrifices on foreign fields, but by anzac biscuits. It's brewed with oats and golden syrup and is hopped with a combination of Kiwi Motueka and Australian Galaxy hops.

The second is a thoroughly English-inspired pale ale but made with all New Zealand-grown ingredients. It has New Zealand grown Fuggles, Goldings and Styrian Goldings and Canterbury Gladfield Ale malt and has been given an extra long boil for flavour and colour. Like next week's witbier, it's still waiting for the humorous beer name generator to be rebooted.

Finally, the arrival of our new shipment from Oregon's Rogue means we can add their American Amber Ale to the lineup.

Sport on Telly

We've had a lot of fun showing many of the matches from the tournament we mustn't name in the bar. But we face the coming weekend with a slight sense of discomfort. Some of our favourite customers have loyalties to other sporting codes that happen to have quite important games coming up this weekend.

First there's the grand final of the AFL, which coincides with one or two rugby games. If our friend Steph can rouse enough people with similar tastes we'll have no choice but to give in to her wish and give this event priority. To this end she has enlisted the Australian High Commission, who called to lobby on her behalf just now. So we may just create a diplomatic incident if we don't give in.

Then on Sunday evening there's another grand final coming from Australia, this time in a sport we believe is known as "loigue". Again, if we sense that the will of those gathered is to give this game preference over the event we can't name, then so be it.

Snack Foods

We're quite excited about the latest addition to our range of snacks. Nuts and beer have gone together for a long time but we think we've found a pretty exceptional take on the humble nut to offer our customers. So from today cholesterol-free, protein-packed New Zealand-grown Chilli Macadamias are on the menu.

Friday, September 23, 2011

September 22, 2011

A New Tasting... Garage Projecture... More Pacific Beer Expo Info...

A New Tasting

Our own tasting programme has taken a back seat lately with Beervana and a certain event that we can't name confusing things. (In all seriousness we can't name it - we were "inspected" last Friday to make sure we had no signage naming the event that we were showing on our TVs!)

But around the end of this month a pretty special shipment from our favourite Norwegian brewery, Nøgne Ø, arrives and it deserves to be celebrated. Not only that, the event that we can't name has brought to Wellington Tokyo-based beer writer Tim Eustace. Tim was associated with Nøgne Ø long before they became the brewing legend they are now - he even came up with the name Dark Horizon for the brewery's legendary 17% Imperial Stout. So while he's in Wellington we're co-opting him to help present a run through our new supplies.

More details and bookings are at the Cult Beer Store.

And while we're on the subject of tastings, it's time we started dropping hints about an event in November. It will be another single-brewery tasting but the brewery will be a local one. It isn't one we've had a full tasting of before, but it is one of our most regular and popular suppliers.

Garage Projecture

The boys will be back with another experimental beer next week and it's another change of direction after Salt and Pepper Porter and Aro Noir.

Next week's beer is Hazel, Maple Mild. It's described as "a strong mild ale, infused with roast hazel nuts and secondary fermented with pure Maple syrup. The finished beer pours with a dense rich head and has a distinct nutty, toffee character."

We're rapt that the Garage Project continues to give everyone a reason to leave their jobs on a Tuesday evening.

More Pacific Beer Expo Info

It's many months since we first heard rumours that Renaissance Brewery had developed a barley wine. But the interval between the rumour and the fact has been excruciating. We believe this has been caused, at least in part, by a delay in the delivery of the 330ml black bottles that the beer is being packaged in. Luckily a month or so ago the brewery were good enough to let Hashigo Zake's staff sample a little, so we can vouch for the beer's quality.

So the beer that will be known as Tribute Barley Wine 2011 will finally be released on October 21st. While the Pacific Beer Expo won't be the official launch event, we think it's pretty fortuitous for all concerned that we can add it to our lineup the following day.

Since we're announcing the inclusion of a barley wine, maybe this is a good time to announce a beer in an even rarer style - Baird West Coast Wheat Wine 2011. This will be more of a preview of this beer, rather than a launch, as it isn't released in Japan until November.

Here are some of the already announced beers in the lineup:

  • 8 Wired Double Brown
  • Baird Kiwi Strong Pale Ale
  • Feral Barrel Fermented Hop Hog
  • Ballast Point Victory at Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter
  • Yeastie Boys His Majesty 2011
  • Rogue American Amber Ale
  • Feral Boris Imperial Stout

So that's nine exceptional beers announced. There will be around twenty more, all of comparable quality and rarity.

As well as drip-feeding information about the beers available, we've been slow divulging other details about the festival. So here are a few more:

  • Every attendee will receive a souvenir festival glass and eight starting tokens. Two of those tokens will only be redeemable for food. All other tokens can be exchanged for food or drinks.
  • Drinks will be served in 100ml samples, costing a token each. Extra tokens cost $2.50 each.
  • High quality, beer friendly food will be available. Every item on the food menu will cost either two or four tokens.
  • Any unused tokens can be redeemed afterwards at Hashigo Zake for 80% of their original value.
  • The festival's two sessions will have two halves. At the half way mark (4:30pm) the lineup of beers will change and a number of beers will be taken off and replaced. A few will be available throughout both halves. The programme will make it very clear what beers will be poured at each serving station and at what times.

Note that all beers will cost the same - no distinction is made for strength, style or country of origin. This is because we have faith that the beers being served are of a uniformly high quality.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 15, 2011

Another Pacific Beer Expo Announcement... Garage Projectile... Closing Time... Excessive Phone Charges... Two Lagers... Cook Islands Beer... The Current Major Event...

Another Pacific Beer Expo Announcement

Following last week's thesis investigating why bookings for Saturday drastically outnumber those for Sunday, we were offered a deceptively simple alternative explanation. (Cheers Brent). Perhaps not everyone realises that the 22nd and 23rd of October are the Saturday and Sunday of Labour Weekend.

Any readers who were unaware of this detail of the New Zealand holiday calendar need not be embarrassed. Just go ahead and buy a ticket for both days.

Now for more details about the beer on offer over Labour weekend at the Boatshed:

  • We can announce that after a far too long absence, fresh beer from legendary Oregon brewer Rogue is on its way. And so a keg of their American Amber Ale will join the fun.
  • Joining the one previously announced Feral beer, we can add that we will include the one and only keg of Feral's Boris Imperial Stout currently on New Zealand soil.

And here's a reminder of some of the lineup that has already been announced:

  • 8 Wired Double Brown
  • Baird Kiwi Strong Pale Ale
  • Feral Barrel Fermented Hop Hog
  • Ballast Point Victory at Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter
  • Yeastie Boys His Majesty 2011

Garage Projectile

Next week the boys are promising a full 40 litres of their next research brew. So we may even let people buy a large serving, although at 7.8% maybe a small serving will be more appropriate.

The beer is called Aro Noir - Dark Side of the Street. It's described as a pitch black, full bodied Stout, with a powerful malt base of English Pale Optic Malt, Dark Crystal, Roast Barley and Black Malts. The hop bill is all American with the citrus grapefruit character of Centennial and Cascade hops.

Jos added that it is definitely brewed on the dark side of the street, and it's entirely possible that their location on the north side of Aro St, at one of the Aro Valley's narrowest points, has the least direct sunshine of any address in Wellington.

Closing Time

Some of you (whom we won't name here) are uncannily attuned to when we open, but we don't often talk about when we close. We usually shrug it off by saying that our opening hours are "midday until late". Each night we close when our evening staff decide that there doesn't seem to be much point staying open any more (or when our liquor licence runs out at 3am, which is pretty unusual).

Occasionally this vagueness about closing time catches someone out and we have a disappointed would-be customer. Or maybe someone chooses not to come because they simply don't know whether we're still open.

So from now on we're adding a little more certainty to our opening (and closing hours). Here it is in a nutshell:

  • We open daily at midday.
  • From Sunday to Thursday we close no earlier than 11pm.
  • On Friday and Saturday we close no earlier than 1am.

Implicit in the above is a commitment to stay open past those times where there is obvious demand.

Excessive Phone Charges

Occasionally Hashigo Zake's own staff find our phones running out of power and conduct a panicky search for an iPhone (or micro-USB) cable to plug into our laptop behind the bar. We've also had the occasional request from customers to charge their phones for them.

To make life easier for all of us we've invested dollars - honestly, several of them - in a universal phone charger that will stay plugged in at the bar for the use of staff and customers. It's at the end of the bar with the Mike's dispenser and hand pumps. It works with iPhones, phones with micro USB ports and a couple of others.

And fittingly this innovation comes just as the Dominion Post gave our free wifi a nice plug:

Two Lagers

We're not sure exactly how this happened, but we've somehow ended up with not one but two pale lagers on tap at once. Not only that - neither is from New Zealand. It could be decades before this happens again.

The beers in question are Green Flash Fizzy Yellow Beer and Waldhaus Diplom Pils. Perhaps the name Fizzy Yellow Beer was inspired by the slogan of Green Flash's neighbour, Stone Brewing.

If you take into account the presence on our taps of Golden Ticket's Emperor Strikes Black we currently have no fewer that three lagers on. Truly unprecedented.

Cook Islands Beer

We will have the beers of a brewery completely new to us on shortly. Matutu Brewery is based in the Cook Islands, and after extensive research spent on the beaches of Rarotonga we've been persuaded to pick up a couple of kegs of their Mai Lager. Look for it on tap during the next week.

The Current Major Event

As promised, we're showing every rugby match on two screens, but you can stay blissfully oblivious in the lounge. For anyone wondering whether we've been swamped by hordes of unnecessarily-friendly, blokish rugby fans, be not afraid! If anything the evenings of matches have been relatively quiet, while we've had some good natured, multi-national groups taking in the afternoon matches.

During last Friday's match between the All Blacks and Tonga we experimented with streaming the celebrated "Alternative Rugby Commentary" through our speakers. As amusing as this commentary was, it was out of sync with the pictures and lacked any of the sounds we expect with a rugby game (crowd noise, Wayne Barnes's thoughtful adjudications). So we'll hold back before putting it on again and invite customers to give their opinion on their preferred soundtrack for certain games.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 8, 2011

More Pacific Beer Expo Announcements... Two and a bit Years... The Tournament We Dare Not Name... The Big City We Dare Not Mention... Garage Projection... Correction...

More Pacific Beer Expo Announcements

Tickets are selling particularly fast for the Saturday session of the Pacific Beer Expo. There are a couple of theories attempting to explain this.
One is that many of you want to leave the Sunday free to watch the final of the rugby tournament that it isn't safe for us to name. The festival will finish at 7pm, a full two hours before that rugby game. We specifically wanted to give people time to get comfortable in a nearby tavern, go home or completely ignore it.
Another theory is that some people are afraid that certain rare beers in our lineup will be emptied on the first day. Here's why this won't happen. (1) We believe the overall quality of the beers on offer will be so consistently high that few if any beers will be "singled out" and quickly drunk. (2) In the event of that happening we will take steps (including weighing kegs if necessary) to ensure that no more than half of the supply of any one beer is consumed on the first day. Actually, at the rate tickets are selling the smart option is to come on the second day where there may be less competition for the same supply.
We can also give some more information about what exactly is going to be on offer. Here are a few specifics:
  • 8 Wired Double Brown - an Imperial Rewired with a touch of Coffee.
  • Baird Kiwi Strong Pale Ale - another manifestation of Baird Brewing's liking for New Zealand hops.
  • Feral Barrel Fermented Hop Hog.
  • Ballast Point Victory at Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter - the final keg of the 2010 vintage.
Already announced:
  • Yeastie Boys His Majesty 2011
(All predictions about what actual beers will be served at the Pacific Beer Expo are made in good faith and with the best information available at the time. However we cannot guarantee that every beer announced will make it on the day.)

Two and a bit Years

We've been celebrating two years of business this week.
Over the last few days then we've received some very articulate and considerate messages from suppliers and customers. We are lucky as a business to have your support.
Thanks also to Gavin and everyone at The Hop Garden, where our staff celebrated the birthday with some memorable food and drink. Likewise thanks are due to Hayley, Dylan and Denise who made it possible for everyone to get the same night off.

The Tournament We Dare Not Name

By the time you read this the event that may or may not be the biggest thing to ever happen in New Zealand is as good as under way. Now since this email is promoting a commercial activity and we aren't an official sponsor of the event in question, it may be a crime under MEMA for us to name the event. (But it wouldn't be a crime for a hotel to charge $1500 for a room on the night of the final - go figure.) And the odd rugby-sceptic among you might like us to take that as a hint that we should ignore it altogether.
But the fact is that the ability to appreciate good drinks can be found in rugby followers as well as rugby sceptics, and it may even be found in foreign rugby supporters. So as with many major sporting events we are happy to be the thinking supporter's option for a welcoming tavern.
We're confident that our targeted advertising will attract a subset of visiting supporters that is completely compatible with our normal clientele. We want you, our valued, regular customers to feel no need to deviate from your usual pattern of patronage.
So our usual goals with respect to sport apply:
  • If you want to remain oblivious you can - we still aren't putting a screen in the lounge.
  • We'll put live games on one or both of our high def TVs if there's support for it.
  • If there isn't a meaningful game to watch, we'll turn the TVs off, although we will consider sincere requests to show replays of games.
But our goodwill to visiting supporters doesn't end there. From Saturday and every day until October 10 we're running an afternoon tasting letting visitors get to know New Zealand craft beer. The samples will be judicously picked from our range, the guidance will be as well-informed and witty as our staff can come up with and there will be some brief notes for everyone to take away.
So when your out of town guests start to stink like fish after three days send them down to us. The vital details are: bookings not needed, start time 3pm, price $25.
But it doesn't stop there. We know that certain good friends of Hashigo Zake will be spending some quality time in Wellington in the week leading up to the quarter finals on October 8 and 9. To help entertain them we're organising a guided trip to southern Wairarapa for a day on October 3. Food, wine and probably other beverages will feature. More details will follow, but feel free to reply to this email to register interest.

The City We Dare Not Mention

We in Wellington like to be ever so slightly patronising about Auckland, our (only numerically and geographically) bigger city. But this week the marketing and sales wing of Hashigo Zake Corporation descended on Auckland in a bid to raise the quality of the imported craft beer available. Our findings may surprise you.
Oases of craft beer exist but are better disguised than we're used to. For instance, who'd have thought that the Liquorland chain would be dotted with pockets of resistance to blandness at places like Newmarket and Forrest Hill? Check out these two shelves at Newmarket Liquorland, packed with high quality imports to back up a fine range of local craft beer.
This week Mt Eden's Village Winery joins the family of enlightened outlets stocking some of the same imports that Hashigo Zake's regulars enjoy. One of the nicest surprises must be the French wine bar and bistro called Winehot which is a stone's throw from Eden Park but will be serving infinitely better beer than what will be on offer at any world cup matches. But the last word in beer in Auckland remains Galbraith's Alehouse and its great to see their legendary lineup augmented by the occasional Californian gem.

Garage Projection

The boys at Garage Project are well ahead of schedule in their quest to develop 24 unique beers in 24 weeks. So they've been threatening to take a week off. But NOT YET! Another beer is ready and it's Salt and Pepper Porter. In their own words: A full bodied, robust porter, seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to the boil to give a sense of body and fullness to the palate with a restrained fuggle hop character.
Now as if brewing in tiny batches wasn't making the point, this week's beer is another of the Garage Project's extra tiny batches. It will be available in small servings only and we make no commitments about how many minutes from 5pm on Tuesday it will be available for.


Last week, while attempting to lecture Moa Brewing about the wrongs of their marketing methods, an over-zealous spell-checker inexplicably turned our description of Hansie Cronje from being "deceased" to "diseased". We apologise for that error. If only Moa would apologise too. (For the record, they issued what has been described as a "non-pology".)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September 1, 2011

Our Birthday... Moa... Beer Highlights... Garage Projectory... The Pacific Beer Expo News...

Our Birthday

A year ago the one year mark really felt like something to crow about. It even moved some of our most faithful customers and supporters to confide that they had never expected us to survive a year.

But what a difference another year makes. Between our first and second birthdays no fewer than five bars have opened in central Wellington that promote themselves on being specialist, independent beer outlets. Anyone would think that we at Hashigo Zake have been getting rich.

So while reaching the two year mark is a really big deal to us, we don't assume that everyone else thinks so. What's more, next week is somewhat overloaded with the launch on Friday of an event that we've all been obsessing about (in our own ways) for several years, and anyone would be nuts to try and compete with the New Zealand v Tonga match for drinkers' attention.

So we'll mark two years of doing what we do in two simple ways. Firstly we hereby humbly and sincerely thank everyone whose moral and material support has kept us thriving for two years.

Secondly we'll serve a special Birthday Brownie to the first 150 people who come down to the bar next Tuesday evening. This will coincide with next week's Garage Project release.


Ah Moa... such good beer, such an objectionable marketing strategy.

For those who haven't heard, Moa launched another advertising campaign recently, picking out another group guaranteed to have defenders who would take the bait. This time it was bribe-taking Pakistani cricketers. To be fair, more Pakistani cricketers have been caught taking bribes to change events on the field than any other country's cricketers, and picking on the world's most notorious match fixer, a deceased, white South African, well that really would have been in bad taste.

But the justification behind Moa's leg-pulling isn't the point. What we object to is the repeated, cynical use of the easily offended to get additional, free publicity.

So rather than get involved in a tedious round of complaining and name-calling on the web, which simply gives them the publicity they're seeking, we're just going to stop selling Moa for a day or two. Next time it will be for a bit longer.

Beery Highlights

Regular readers might have noticed that we struggle sometimes to give good notice in this email of upcoming tap beers. The fact is that two years on we have a greater variety of sources of tap beer than ever before. We also have offsite refrigerated warehouse space at which we've built up a private supply of goodies that could keep an army of beer-geeks satisfied for months. Not that beer-geeks would ever take up arms.

So even we are struggling to keep tabs on the variety we can call on.

One of those ever growing sources is the importing company Malz & Hopfen Ltd, run by regular customer Dave Waugh. Last night we put on the first keg to come to us through him. It's the Waldhaus brewery's Schwarzwald Weiss. As much as we love the freshness and sheer intensity of some of the local wheat beers, it makes a great change to experience the balance and subtlety of an authentic German weizen. It's on tap right now.

Other noteworthy tap beers coming on soon include:

  • ParrotDog's second beer - BitterBitch IPA. This is the full blown IPA that they intended to make initially, but for reasons the Matts can explain one day a slightly different beer came out first time round.
  • Feral's Hop Hog IPA - this is probably the beer that wins most customers over to West Australia's Feral Brewery. If you thought last weekend's Karma Citra was good, we expect you to be even more impressed with this.

Garage Projectory

Details of next week's instalment just came in on the telex. The scary news is that just as each week's beer sells out progressively faster, next week's is to come in an ever smaller quantity than usual. So we'll probably be forced to restrict the pour size for this release.

It's called Red Rocks. It's described by Pete as a rich ruby red ale with a nice caramel malt body, steeped with what was probably an excessive amount of whole cone sauvin.

It will be available at 5pm on Tuesday and for several minutes afterwards.

The Pacific Beer Expo

This week we have two pieces of substantial news to reveal about the Pacific Beer Expo.

First of all tickets go on sale at around about the time that most of you receive this email. At the time of writing they are in an armoured van being transported from our printer's secret location to Hashigo Zake. They should be on sale in the bar by 5pm. Interestingly we had our first customer asking for tickets bang on opening time at midday, today. Perhaps demand will be high...

They are also on sale on our web store here.

The price is $40, although we are charging a little extra on the web store to cover transaction charges that we pay our web host.

One of the very bright people assisting us with the festival made a last minute suggestion regarding ticket sales as well. For an extra $35 we will throw in a festival t-shirt. This will represent a $5 discount. These shirts haven't been printed yet, but we'll post them later to mail order customers or hold them for customers here at the bar. The design will incorporate the main features of the poster, which you can see here.

Secondly we can announce that Yeastie Boys will release His Majesty 2011 at the festival. This year's release is described as a Burton IPA - it uses pale English malts, East Kent Golding and Fuggle hops, a characterful yeast and "burton-ised" water to emulate a traditional Burton-on-Trent IPA. It should contrast nicely with the Californian hop-bombs that will be available alongside it.