Thursday, February 24, 2011

February 24, 2011

Time To Change Our Luck... What's On Tap?... Tasting News...

Time To Change Our Luck

Late last week we learned that the victim of a shocking murder being covered in the media was in fact someone with a connection to Hashigo Zake. Matthew Hall was an experienced home brewer who had assisted some of our staff in their own brewing and had attended the first of our occasional home brew tastings.

Everyone at Hashigo Zake extends our profound sympathies to the friends and family of Matthew Hall.

We were scratching our heads trying to come up with a suitable way to acknowledge his tragedy when the earthquake struck.

This is not a time for holding back. So here is what we're doing:

Every cent spent at Hashigo Zake between 6pm and midnight this Saturday will be shared between two beneficiaries. The first is Atareira. This organisation was nominated in the printed guide to the funeral of Matthew Hall, so we're simply following their suggestion. The second beneficiary will be an organisation providing Christchurch earthquake relief, possibly the Red Cross.

The hope here is that anyone wanting to contribute to either of these causes can actually enjoy doing it. So if you have no plans for Saturday night, this is a rare opportunity to simultaneously drink and do a good deed.

What's on Tap?

Note the question mark. We're less sure than ever about what we'll be serving over the next few days and weeks. Every week we get a delivery from BeerNZ, the Christchurch craft beer distributor, of South Island beer, and Christchurch beer in particular. This is probably our single biggest source of products and we don't know when this supply line will resume.

This doesn't mean we're about to run out of beer. But it will be harder to predict what will be on and it will mean that the average latitude of the beer we serve will be heading north for a while. Expect more than the usual amount of Tuatara, a little Hallertau and Galbraith's hopefully, maybe more Mike's, Epic and Croucher and probably a slightly higher than usual number of imports on tap.

In particular, lovers of hand pumped beer might have to wait a few days while we sort out supplies. Please bear with us.

We can announce that our first ever kegs of Moa 5 Hop Ale have arrived, as well as a keg of Moa Pale Ale.

And Ballast Point Sculpin IPA - the world's 3rd best IPA (according to will be on soon.

Tasting News

We did just have one piece of good news. A small order from Squatters Brewery in Salt Lake City just turned up, which was something of a surprise since we haven't been invoiced for it yet or paid excise. (No-one tell Customs.) So we don't know what it's costing us yet.

Now for those who haven't heard, Squatters are the new US brewer of the Mussel Inn's Captain Cooker. We have enough of the US version to try alongside some from the Mussel Inn and Invercargill Brewery (where most Captain Cooker is actually brewed). We also hope to have Andrew from the Mussel Inn come up for the event. There are a few other details to confirm so please don't try and book yet. But we're aiming for March 8th.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

February 17, 2011

Yeastie Friday... New On Tap... Tasting News... San Francisco Beer Week..

Yeastie Friday

The Craft Beer TV Roadshow reaches Wellington tomorrow (Friday). We're told that the film crew on wheels will be at Hashigo Zake around lunchtime to capture some footage and, perhaps, the wisdom of some local identities in the craft beer business.

One of those identities is Yeastie Boys' Stu McKinley who immediately proposed that we share the love by offering specials on the Yeasties' two current releases - Europa and Rapture.

So from opening time tomorrow (midday) and for as long as 20 litres of each beer lasts you can get a small serving of both for $10. And if you buy a pie at the same time we'll knock $2 off that too.

For those who've forgotten, Rapture and Europa are summer ales with identical recipes except for one key ingredient - the yeast. Europa is fermented with a Kölsch yeast and has been on tap and handpump at Hashigo Zake already. Rapture is fermented with a Belgian Abbey yeast and came out this week. The ABV of Europa is 4.2% and we understand that the ABV of Rapture came out higher at 4.5%.

New on Tap

The big news of the week is the Rapture, as discussed above. But there's more - as well as the non-force carbonated version for the hand pump, we have a keg of Rapture's fizzy version, for those who struggle with beer in its flat, "tepid" form.

Another beer that attracts the same kind of religious fervour as the Rapture is Hopwired. 2010's favourite beer (as voted by our customers) has been away too long. One keg going on some time in the next few days - keep an eye on to find out when.

And another favourite makes a welcome return over the next few days - Twisted Hop IPA.

Tasting News

Perhaps that should be Tasting Non-News. Our first tasting of the year, next week's Food and Sake Evening is fully booked. We look forward to seeing those of you who did get in in time at 6:30pm on Tuesday.

Meanwhile we're still waiting to hear about our special order of Utah beer that will make up our next event. Please keep the faith!

Meanwhile an alternative form of regular beer tasting has been quietly getting under way here at Hashigo Zake. Many of Wellington's most dedicated home brewers - including one or two of our own staff - have been organising occasional tastings of each other's output. See for more info.

San Francisco Beer Week

Yes don't pretend you didn't realise that this is San Francisco Beer Week. To celebrate we've rushed our one former San Francisco resident staff member back from his tour of the South Island to work this Saturday night. And until Sunday you can get $1 off any of the large Bear Republic bottles.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

February 10, 2011

2011's First Two Tastings... New This Week... Yeastie Friday... A Plug..

2011's First Two Tastings

Matched Food and Sake

This year our first tasting event of the year is an innovation - our first ever Matched Food and Sake evening. Our own Shigeo Takagi, as well as being our in-house sake expert, has been playing a big role in building our capability at catering for functions. He also spent some time in Japan recently, looking for ideas for this event.

So on the 22nd of this month from 6:30pm he'll be in charge of food and drinks for the lucky few who get in and book. To book, go to

Mile High Beer

Plans are inching forward for a pretty unusual tasting. One of the owners of Squatters Brewpub in Salt Lake City wandered into Hashigo Zake on Christmas Eve, leading to a small one-off order that we hope will be winging its way here soon. Included in the package will be the US version of Onekaka's own Captain Cooker. Confused by that last sentence? Check out:

Once we know the beer has left the brewery we'll confirm a date and price.

New This Week

8 Wired have spent most of the last 18 months looking for ways to blow us away with beers that are strong in flavour, alcohol or both. Their latest beer is designed to turn that paradigm on its head. It's Underwired (yes, Underwired) and it claims to be an IPA with 2% alcohol. To find out more, read Søren's own blog about it at

Our research on the Golden Eagle Brewery has been pretty thin, but we've decided to throw caution to the wind and put on a keg of their South Island IPA.

If the South Island IPA lets us down there will be plenty of old friends returning, such as Emersons 1812.

At some point in the next few days the wheat beer tap will be thrown over to a Californian, in the form of Coronado Orange Avenue Wit. Other Californians coming on soon include Green Flash 30th St Pale Ale, Bear Republic Apex IPA and Coronado Islander IPA.

Yeastie Friday

A week tomorrow (the 18th) Luke Nicholas and Kelly Ryan of NZ Craft Beer TV cruise in to town to interview Stu McKinley of Yeastie Boys (and apparently yours truly) on our very own premises. Stu has suggested that we mark the occasion by putting the Yeastie Boys' current pair of releases - Rapture and Europa - on our hand pumps at the same time and offer lunchtime specials. More details next week.

A Plug

Some of our best customers don't actually live in Wellington. That's some feat so to show our appreciation we'd like to draw attention to an upcoming performance by one of you.

Charismatic multi-instrumentalist Adam Page breezes into Wellington from Adelaide occasionally to squeeze a performance or two between his tireless search for fine beer. He has a show at Downstage this Sunday that we would endorse if it weren't for the fact that it's a world premiere, so we can't possibly have seen it. More details here:

Anyone attending Adam's show on Sunday can show their ticket at Hashigo Zake before or after and receive the same discount as SOBA members.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

February 3, 2011 2011's First Tasting... Upcoming Treats... The Sevens... The Superbowl...

New Zealand breweries have done well in's new announcement of the top beers in Australasia. That is to say, New Zealand breweries did particularly well compared to Australian ones. But there are no New Zealand breweries or beers in the worldwide top 100 lists.

Now Ratebeer are quiet on exactly how they aggregate their results, but we know that 8 Wired's Hopwired IPA was a deserved first place getter because that's consistent with the way you, our customers, voted in our survey of everyone's favourite beers of 2010.

But what's really interesting about Hopwired's success on Ratebeer is the fact that most of the recent ratings have come from abroad. Søren has managed to send a few pallets of beer off to Denmark and the US and it looks as though the hardcore beer geeks in those countries are lavishing it with praise.

So perhaps if it wasn't for overseas consumers, 8 Wired beer would miss out on some of the accolades it is now receiving. Similarly, Epic Armageddon and Renaissance Elemental have had a good year on ratebeer and we understand that both of these have been made available in Australia and beyond over the last year.

Now Ratebeer doesn't have nearly as much of a following in New Zealand as it does in certain other countries, particularly the US. And it's notoriously skewed by the biases of its most regular contributors. (I.e. an average Imperial Stout or Imperial IPA will get a higher score than a really good Kölsch.) But it serves a useful purpose sometimes, especially when championing up-and-coming or experimental breweries like Mikkeller. Or 8 Wired.

So perhaps patriotic fans of local beer could do a simple service to our heroic local brewers by turning into authentic anorak-wearing beer-geeks and spending quality time on ratebeer.

If the idea appeals, here are a couple of notes:

  • The administrators of ratebeer weren't born yesterday, and they discount scores that are extreme or that come from novice "raters".
  • We would be remiss if we didn't mention SOBA's own Beer Map, that lets customers at bars anywhere in New Zealand track what they're drinking where, for the benefit of fellow consumers. In fact we (Hashigo Zake) are sponsoring prizes for top contributors. Go to
  • has a competitor called Beer Advocate, which is arguably equally deserving of your attention. (We also subscribe to the Beer Advocate magazine and have copies available at the bar.)

2011's First Tasting

This year our first tasting event of the year is an innovation - our first ever Matched Food and Sake evening. Our own Shigeo Takagi, as well as being our in-house sake expert, has been playing a big role in building our capability at catering for functions. He also spent some time in Japan recently, looking for ideas for this event.

So on the 22nd of this month from 6:30pm he'll be in charge of food and drinks for the lucky few who get in and book. To book, go to

Upcoming Treats

Wanaka Brewski will make a rare appearance on the pilsner tap.

On Monday (as discussed below) Ballast Point Big Eye IPA will be one of our Superbowl Special beers.

Right now the one and only keg in New Zealand of the big, rich Pete Brown Tribute Ale from Bear Republic is on tap.

Renaissance's new weiss beer that was a runaway success a couple of weeks ago is back and will be on tap soon.

Frankly there are so many distinctive and delicious beers in the On Tap Soon section of our menu that it would be tiresome to list them all.

The Sevens

The Wellington Sevens begins tomorrow and if last year is anything to go by, many of you are planning to lock the front door and stay in.

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. We'll have to settle for a couple of beers from Oregon and California. So bottles of Rogue American Amber Ale and glasses of Ballast Point Big Eye IPA (on tap) will be discounted, and discounted again for anyone ordering our signature chilli.

The coverage on telly starts at midday, which coincidentally is when we open.