Thursday, January 27, 2011

January 27, 2011

The Sevens.. The Superbowl.. Brewing - A Dangerous Occupation.. Fishhead.. On the Water.. Web Store News...

The Sevens

As this email goes out Wellington's annual convention of exhibitionism, binge drinking and errr.. sport is eight days away.

Last year was our first Sevens weekend as a business. Accepted wisdom is that it is the biggest event of the year for Wellington hospitality businesses. However we found that after we had applied our usual standards when it comes to admitting the paralytically drunk, we didn't actually do much business. We assumed that it was because you, the responsible portion of our customer base, didn't venture into town.

This year we've been informed that the council are making greater than ever efforts at managing the chaos that takes place on the 4th and particularly the 5th. This means that even our portion of Taranaki St will be closed to vehicles from 9pm on Saturday. Counter-intuitively though, pedestrians coming from the waterfront will be herded away from our vicinity and towards Tory St, which will be considered the "safe" way into Courtenay Place. To put it another way, it's going be slightly harder than usual (depending what direction you are coming from) to get to Hashigo Zake.

So this message aims to reassure our faithful, responsible customers that between our own door staff and the council's measures there is no reason to fear coming down on the 4th and 5th.

The Superbowl

Hot on the heals of the Sevens comes Superbowl Monday (or Superbowl Sunday as it's known in the US). Last year we took the participation of New Orleans in the match as a cue to make Gumbo and do some specials on American beer.

This year the match is being played in Dallas, so it seems appropriate to revive our fabulous twelve-hour, beer-infused chilli. We'll serve it with sour cream, corn chips and cheese. Sadly neither of the teams (Steelers & Packers) is from the same city as a brewery that we import. Nevertheless will find an excuse to offer some kind of deal on certain beers from our recent delivery of American goodies.

Brewing - A Dangerous Occupation

Yes that may surprise some but there are innumerable ways for a brewer to suffer grave injuries. We recently learned that Mike Nielson, brewer at Tuatara and godfather of the Wellington home brewing scene, spent a week in hospital and is still recuperating at home. Our best wishes go out to Mike and we hope for everyone's sake that he's back in the saddle shortly. We understand that he has recovered sufficiently to consume liquids.


The latest issue of Fishhead magazine is out, which means the second instalment of Hadyn Green's beer column and its second ever Hashigo Zake advertisement. We recommend.

On the Water

Just in case anyone was getting bored with the lineup over the last month or so (as if)... Arriving in the next week or two will be dozens of kegs from two of our favourite breweries. Here's a hint - they're both from whale-hunting nations.

Web Store News

New Zealand's greatest web store for craft beer (The Cult Beer Store) just got a little more useful to our local customers. You can choose "Collect from Hashigo Zake" as a shipping option and avoid paying the freight charge.

We're also in the process of updating the merchandise offerings, so t-shirts and glassware will be there for purchase too.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

January 20, 2011

Online Photo Exhibition... Findings of Our Best of 2010 Survey... Findings From Our Own Sales in 2010... 2011 Tastings... New Treats... Rock Music History Lesson...

Online Photo Exhibition

Back in October we invited photographer Jed Soane to come down to Hashigo Zake and document our venue in pictures. For those who don't know him, Jed is a popular figure in New Zealand's craft brewing scene. He has set out to record New Zealand brewing photographically, one brewery at a time, and the results are pretty special. (We recommend giving the Beer Project a visit.) Jed is also the only person we know to have patronised the Mikkeller bar in Copenhagen.

The photos Jed took that Wednesday evening in October turned out to be equally special. And as part of the renovation of our own website we've been able to make a home for them online.

We're delighted with the way the photos capture not only the character of Hashigo Zake, but the personalities of some of our customers and staff.

Having said that, we know that some of you may have reservations about having your image on a public website and we will respect the wishes of any subjects who don't like what they see of themselves. Also, we promise to only use these photos for what we consider "exhibition" purposes, and not in any future advertising.

The set is at

Findings of Our Best of 2010 Survey

Our 2010 Survey was something of an afterthought, but it was launched with a suspicion that our customers would relish the chance to take part in our small but tastefully conceived exercise in mutual beer appreciation. And so it proved. If we had an expectation of participation levels we surpassed them by furlongs.

So thanks and congratulations to those of you with sufficient beer knowledge to differentiate between our nominees and come up with answers.

Favourite Pilsner

This was extremely competitive but we shouldn't be surprised that Emerson's Pilsner came out on top. But not far behind, and sharing second place were Croucher Pilsner and the Sprig and Fern's Harvest Pilsner.

Favourite Pale Ale

Tuatara APA was the clear winner in this category and so far ahead that it is hardly worth mentioning any other contenders. Except that if we combined the votes for Yeastie Boys' Yakima Monster and Motueka Monster then that blend would have been a comfortable second, still a long way behind Tuatara APA.

Favourite Wheat Beer

Three Boys Wheat won this category but Tuatara Hefe wasn't far behind.

Favourite Porter

We confused things here by including a hoppy porter and a couple of imperial porters and the result was a tight contest. But Yeastie Boys PKB came out ahead of Flying Dog Imperial Porter and Renaissance Elemental Porter.

Favourite IPA

With so many memorable IPAs available last year this should have been a close contest. But 8 Wired Hopwired has clearly made far too much of an impression on us all and it was the clear winner. Epic Armageddon led the peloton.

Favourite Stout

There was another comfortable win for Three Boys in this category, with the legendary Oyster Stout. Renaissance Craftsman Chocolate Stout was runner-up.

Favourite Imperial IPA

This turned out to be a neck-and-neck contest amongst three great local beers - two of them new in 2010. The champion was Renaissance MPA. Liberty Summ!t was not far behind and close too was Mike's IPA.

Favourite Hand-pulled Beer

Purists would object to us lumping all hand pulled beers together and it made for a well-and-truly split vote. Winner by a nose was Yeastie Boys Punkadiddle and tied for second were Townshend Cathcart NTA, Townshend/666 Sutton Hoo and Twisted Hop Challenger. Twisted Ankle and Renaissance Voyager weren't far behind either.

Favourite Amber Ale

This was another runaway win for 8 Wired with Tall Poppy. We were delighted to see one of Emerson's Brewers Reserve beers - Oreti Red - come in second.

Favourite Specialty Beer

The most popular of the weird, weirdly flavoured or just obscure beers was Mussel Inn Captain Cooker. We shouldn't be surprised really, although some sensational beers such as Invercargill Smoking Bishop, 8 Wired Big Smoke, Mike's Whisky Porter and Yeastie Boys PKB Remix all trailed it.

Favourite Brown Ale

There was a small list of candidates but it still took a great beer in 8 Wired Rewired to run away with the category.

Favourite Strong Beer

This was category of misfits and show ponies with a variety of styles but a lot of big special beers. The dark horse turned out to be Renaissance Stonecutter. Rogue XS Imperial Stout and Emerson's Weizenbock were the next two.

Favourite Pie

Perhaps the most important category in the whole thing turned out to be a two horse race between Venison Vindaloo and Pork and Chorizo, with the Pork and Chorizo prevailing.

Overall Champion

Finally we invited participants to name their three favourite beers of 2010, with no suggestions offered. We scoured the free-form text at great length, decrypted some peculiar answers and figured out which beers got the most votes.

Fortunately the results turned out to be consistent with the previous category results. So we are delighted to announce that of the beers served on tap at Hashigo Zake in 2010, the people's favourite was:

8 Wired Hopwired

And the runner-up was:

Tuatara APA

A couple of observations:

  • Some of these winners and runners-up had very limited availability. Beers such as Emerson's Oreti Red, Liberty Summ!t and Sprig and Fern Harvest Pilsner must have been pretty special to get the attention of so many. If only they were made more regularly...
  • According to the names entered voluntarily on the survey, 50% of brewers didn't vote for any of their own beers.

Here they are in a more concise form:

Category Winner
Favourite Pilsner Emerson's Pilsner
Favourite Pale Ale Tuatara APA
Favourite Wheat Beer Three Boys Wheat
Favourite Porter Yeastie Boys PKB
Favourite IPA 8 Wired Hopwired
Favourite Stout Three Boys Oyster Stout
Favourite Imperial IPA Renaissance MPA
Favourite Hand-pulled Beer Yeastie Boys Punkadiddle
Favourite Amber Ale 8 Wired Tall Poppy
Favourite Specialty Beer Mussel Inn Captain Cooker
Favourite Brown Ale 8 Wired Rewired
Favourite Strong Beer Renaissance Stonecutter
Favourite Pie Pork and Chorizo
Overall Champion 8 Wired Hopwired
Runner Up Tuatara APA

Findings From Our Own Sales in 2010

It's interesting to compare and contrast what customers vote for in a popularity contest and what they buy. Clearly availability is a big differentiator. I.e. you can only buy what we have to offer and many of your and our favourites are only ever available for a short time.

Or perhaps we've been getting it hopelessly wrong all along by stocking completely the wrong products, and the survey results above will lead to greater customer satisfaction in 2011.

But several breweries who starred in the results above (8 Wired and Yeastie Boys in particular) simply don't make enough to satisfy demand, because they aren't (yet) full-time businesses.

Biggest Selling Beers of 2010

According to our electronic tills, these were Hashigo Zake's top sellers in 2010, in descending order of volume:

  1. Three Boys Pils
  2. Emersons Pils
  3. 3-Boys Wheat
  4. Croucher Pils
  5. Renaissance Discovery

And our biggest selling breweries were:

  1. Three Boys
  2. Renaissance
  3. Emerson's
  4. Croucher
  5. Twisted Hop

2011 Tastings

A few weeks ago it was easy to drop hints about our plans for tastings in 2011. Now it's mid to late January, well... it's time to deliver. So here we go...

February 22 is the date of our first ever Sake / Food Matching. Our own Shigeo Takagi, fresh from touring his homeland in the manner of a celebrity chef, is planning a menu of the finest sakes available in New Zealand paired with appropriate morsels of food. Details and prices are still to be confirmed, but please put it in your diaries.

New Treats

There were times in the winter months last year when we seemed to have multiple announcements about novel and exceptional new beers every week. The last few weeks have been quiet though and we've had to pad out these emails with fluff about release parties and fatuous product surveys.

But the hiatus is over and the good times are back. So stand sit back, relax and prepare to change your plans for the (long) weekend because here come some agenda-changing new offerings:

  • Daps Classic is a brand new pale ale from a brand new brewing company in Napier going under the name "Naturale". Please let us know what you think of it.
  • Renaissance have made a wheat beer! At this rate the Pope will come out and Winston Peters will quit politics. They're saying it's a summer seasonal and don't even have a name for it, but we gather that it's a 5% Bavarian-style weissbier.

    Whatever they say, it will be on tap soon.

  • The Yeastie Boys are back with one, and, sooner or later, two different but similar new beers. Actually the first of them snuck onto one of our hand pumps last Friday. It was Europa - a refreshing summer ale fermented with a Kölsch yeast. Yes - a Kölsch yeast. Kölsches generally go down like a cup of room-temperature Rheineck with hopheads, but the odd exception sneaks through (e.g. Hallertau Luxe!). And the rate at which our first 20 litres disappeared suggested there will be no resistance to Europa.

    This week we have Europa in both its CD and 12" hand pumped and cold, fizzy releases. It will be followed any week now by Rapture - the same moderately hopped, balanced summer ale, fermented with a Belgian abbey ale yeast.

    For more information on these two beers, please read our Rock Music History Lesson below.

  • Søren Erikson - a.k.a 8 Wired Brewing - continues to give us reasons to be thankful. This week he has agreed to submit his latest experiment to the ultimate test.

    As if brewing a big, rich Belgian-style Tripel with three different yeasts wasn't experimental enough, Søren has doubled-down and brewed what might be New Zealand's first (semi-) commercial, sultana-infused Quadrupel. (As far as we can tell, Quadrupel is not even a BJCP-recognised style.) And as with the Tripel, Søren is hedging his bets by using different yeasts.

    So waiting in the vault are: The Sultan of Swing (Ardennes yeast fermented) and The Sultan of Swing (Westmalle yeast fermented). Søren isn't yet happy with the portion fermented with Unibroue yeast.

    We're looking for glasses small enough to serve these 11% monsters in. But we recommend asking for 150ml at a time.

Rock Music History Lesson

The following information should be well and truly understood by a high proportion of our regular customers. But for those who don't get the Rapture/Europa reference, please read on.

New York's Blondie were pioneers of the New Wave and Punk scene in the mid-70s. There was a time when they were considered raw and edgy, even though their lead singer was a playboy bunny who possessed "a bombshell zombie's voice that can sound dreamily seductive and woodenly Mansonite within the same song". By the 80s they were having chart success in obscure outposts of rock n' roll like New Zealand. And yet they had enough nous and nerve to be the first act ever to make money from a song featuring rap.

That song was Rapture - a peculiar blend of disco, pop, jazz and hip hop. It was on an album called Autoamerican, released in 1980. Also on Autoamerican was Europa - a mainly instrumental, orchestral piece that strangely wasn't a hit in New Zealand.

For the record, many people of taste and discernment consider Lars von Trier's 1991 movie Europa (a.k.a. Zentropa) to be the most interesting artistic work to go by that name.

Oh - and there was this.

Whatever memory works for you please sit back, relax, sip and reminisce about your favourite 20th century cultural touchstone.

Monday, January 17, 2011

January 13, 2011

Our Best of 2010 Survey... The Menu... Supermarket Beer... Comings and Goings...

Our Best of 2010 Survey

Last week we announced our Best of 2010 Survey, in which we invite you to identify your favourites from the beers we poured on tap last year. Its main purpose was to amuse those of you sitting alone in your office while your colleagues remained at the beach, but it seems to have caught on better than expected and participation has been high.

But we're assuming that many of you would have been oblivious when we announced it last week so we'll take submissions for another week.

To take part, follow this link:

We'll announce the survey's findings next week, along with a few juicy factoids gleaned from sales reports for 2010 coming out of our till system.

The Menu

A month ago we proudly announced the re-skinning of our website to bring it in to the 21st century. Well the Entertainment and Technology Division of Hashigo Zake International has stayed active and we can now announce Version 2.0 of the bar's own electronic menu.

If you thought the arrivals board was mesmerising, wait until you take in the new version.

Supermarket Beer

Perhaps you've wondered how one little Wellington bar could possibly have the turnover to justify bringing container loads of rare beer from American breweries. We wondered too, although the way kegs of Sculpin and Victory at Sea are getting drained it's easy to see how a container could be emptied.

But the fact is some of our recent shipment is destined for outlets other than Hashigo Zake and the Cult Beer Store. For instance Island Bay New World have been stocking a few of our Rogue imports for several months and have just started stocking Racer 5 and Hop Rod Rye from Bear Republic.

If you'd like to be able to source some of our extraordinary imported beer from your own local supermarket, feel free to whisper our name in their ear.

Comings and Goings

We're delighted to have both Shiggy and Rei return from exhausting fact finding trips to their native Japan. Shiggy in particular went to a lot of trouble to establish more contacts in the Japanese craft brewing scene and made a moving pilgrimage to the Baird Brewery.

Over the coming months some of our other imported staff will be touring the South Island. We're confident that the South Island's brewpubs and craft beer bars will be better for it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

January 6, 2011

Best of 2010... Business as Usual... 2011 Tasting Calendar.

Best of 2010

There's much reflecting going on right now about what the best beers of 2010 were. We're not above a little idle speculation ourselves. So we're dabbling with some technology courtesy of Google, and offering everyone the chance to join in. If you follow this link:, you can take a survey on what the best beers on offer at Hashigo Zake in 2010 were. (Also, please discreetly let us know if our experiment with the survey tool let's us down.)

We'll reveal the results in a week or two. Enjoy!

Business as Usual

It's another lightweight summer edition this week. But the kegs continue to rotate and the variety is as good as ever.

Right now we're steadily working our way through our biggest ever shipment of American beer. For the foreseeable future we can guarantee that you can come in and find at least one and maybe more of our taps dedicated to beer from Green Flash, Bear Republic, Coronado or Ballast point. And if the one you were hoping for doesn't happen to be on tap when you come in, we're steadily finding room on our shelves for the bottled versions.

Tasting Calendar

We're working on our tasting calendar for 2011. We can't confirm any events yet, but here are some predictions:

  • A sake and food matching evening.
  • A tasting of beers from the Squatters chain in Salt Lake City, including the American version of the Mussel Inn's Captain Cooker.
  • One or more tastings built around the best of the aforementioned shipment of Californian beer.

More info in the coming weeks.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

December 30, 2010

The Fun Continues.. Ballast Point..

The Fun Continues

It's a funny time of year and while some of you and some of us drift in and out of Wellington, Hashigo Zake is still battling to put new and interesting beverages in front of you every day that we are legally allowed to open. Meanwhile our own circumstances mean that this message will be shorter than usual. Please accept our apologies - normal service will resume shortly.

The highlight this week will be the simultaneous release of multiple Ballast Point beers, but before and after that will be plenty of other stunning firsts.

Over the last few days we've snuck Bear Republic Racer 5 on tap (don't worry if you missed out - there's more) and right now Coronado Islander IPA is on.

In addition there remain many of the local treats mentioned last week that have yet to make their way on to the taps.

Ballast Point

Last week's launch of Green Flash beers was such a success that we've decided to repeat the formula for another brewery new to us - Ballast Point. And what date could be more appropriate that New Year's Eve.

The pitch is pretty much the same. You can come in and pay $20 for a ticket that entitles you to a 300ml serving of each of four Ballast Point beers. The tap beers in the mix will be Big Eye IPA, Sculpin IPA, Calico Amber Ale and Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter.