Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 28, 2011

Beer is the New Rock 'n Roll... Cock and Bull... Should Auld Acquaintance... Events... This Friday... A Brief Survey...

Beer is the New Rock 'n Roll

It may be a trite slogan but I think we know it's true. Doesn't the release of a new beer by a respected brewer remind you of the excitement felt as a teenager when your favourite band released a new LP? Don't certain brewers with their lurid trousers and their motorcycle-riding, live-fast-and-leave-a-good-looking-corpse, bohemian lifestyles resemble rock stars of the glam era?

Yeastie Boys and Emerson's get it. They show it in their actions - evolving from early demos cooked up in cellars on makeshift equipment to stadium-rousing works developed in massive studios, all the while teasing their fans with limited releases and reprisals or remixes of old favourites while always leaving the mosh-pit wanting more. Not to mention the sex and drugs. They also show it in the beer names they choose.

Bird Dog

The hit-factory that is Emerson's Brewery have been drawing attention to their rock star affinity with the ongoing Flying Nun series of beers. And this time it's legendary Dunedin band The Verlaines to whom tribute is being paid with Bird Dog. Some of us would argue that The Ballad of Harry Noryb is a more worthy song to single out, but it's too long to fit on a tap badge. And the song Bird Dog does finish with the refrain I love this imported German beer, they know how to make it over there.

Strangely though, Bird Dog the beer is not particularly German in style. It's a strongish (5.5% ABV), single-hop pale ale - the single hop being NZ Cascade. Our first keg is trashing our green room right now and might make it on tap tonight.

Rex Attitude

This weekend Yeastie Boys release their third album year round beer - Rex Attitude. 100% of the malt used is peat-smoked, which is about 95% more than is considered safe. Those of us who got to sample a trial batch found it infinitely more drinkable than expected. Beer doesn't come much more rock 'n roll than this, although perversely the name is a reference to a French Techno DJ.

The launch of this cult-beer-in-waiting is at Regional Wines and Spirits on Saturday afternoon. We'll have some in stock that evening.

Cock and Bull

Go right ahead before she tells some cock-and-bull story about some school boy.

- Split Enz, Another Great Divide

We've finally completed a transaction with Steam Brewing in Auckland, the brewing arm of the Cock and Bull chain, and brewers (under contract) of Epic beers, Croucher Pils and any number of other beverages.

This means that for the first time we'll have on tap their witbier (Dirty Blonde), bitter (Fuggles) and the legendary Imperial Red Ale known as Monk's Habit. Look out for them over the next week or two. The Dirty Blonde will go on tonight or tomorrow.

Should Auld Acquaintance

And if you leave here
You leave me broken, shattered, I lie.

- Franz Ferdinand, Take Me Out.

The next time your beverage is served by a certain insouciant, bewhiskered Scot, it may the last. In a rare instance of actual staff turnover at Hashigo Zake, the popular Chris Hogg next week packs his belongings back into whatever luggage he brought with him a year ago and heads back to the Glasgow spring. (Probably a straight swap with Wellington's recent weather.)

The good news is that he may be lost to us but not to the world of craft beer. He's returning to the land of Tennents and McEwans with a new-found passion for home-brewing and cult beer, determined to befriend the lads at Brewdog and continue the struggle.

Chris will be missed. We wish him well.


When you're alone
And life is making you lonely,
You can always go downtown.

- Tony Hatch, Downtown.

As announced last week, our May 10 tasting will be an experiment in matching gourmet Italian antipasti with a variety of beers. The food products will be drawn from the catalogue of The Prodigal Daughter. See for bookings or book at the bar.

And as discussed at length in recent dispatches, we're marking the final chapter of the SOBA v Big Business legal stoush next Tuesday. We would like to serve some actual German Radler, specially freighted over for the event. We would also like to put our own improvised Radler on tap. But DB's trademark makes the serving of authentic products some kind of breach of their rights. So you'll just have to come down and see if we respect their trademark enough to toe the line.

This Friday

(That's tomorrow for the 63% of you who skim-read this email on the day it's sent.)

We have a lunch special tomorrow. Our own Dave has taken Sam's recipe for beer-infused, slow-cooked chilli and adapted it to use ingredients of his own devising. Cooking of this dish will begin late tonight and by lunchtime tomorrow it will be extremely fit for human consumption. We'll be serving it with sour cream, cheese and corn chips. Or you can just order it as a pie filling.

And later tomorrow evening, the deciding match in the Australian NBL will be screened on one or possibly both TVs for those interested.

A Brief Survey

An associate of Hashigo Zake will spend some of next month visiting several European and Scandinavian breweries that we have been or hope to be trading with. Rather than just turn up empty handed we would like this person to come bearing gifts of fine New Zealand beer. So we thought we would ask you what you think that beer or beers should be.

There's no obligation but if you'd like to contribute to the discussion, please pause and think: what beer is not necessarily your personal favourite but would best represent New Zealand and New Zealand craft brewing to discerning European beer-lovers?

Friday, April 22, 2011

April 21, 2011

New Events... New Beers... New Menu Items... Easter Trading Hours... 250...

New Events

New Event 1

Our first new event is quite experimental, while continuing our recent dabbling in the challenging world of food and beer matching.

We've been inspired by the exquisite and distinct new offerings from The Prodigal Daughter. (See below for a couple of new menu items based on her products.) On May 10 we're going to construct a tasting around the concept of Beer and Antipasti. We're looking for combinations of craft beer and gourmet Italian nibbles. There's an element of chance about pairings like these, but we know that the ingredients will be pretty special. See for bookings.

New Event 2

The part-time chefs on our staff are now locked in a rivalry to produce the most stunning beer-themed meal that can be conjured in our micro-kitchen. Last week Sam raised the bar and now Shiggy is developing a menu for another five course extravaganza scheduled for June 14. Shiggy wants this meal to have an Asian theme, and he was brought up in Japan and Thailand, so we can expect some pretty clear influences.

New Event 3

The next date on our calendar is June 21, which happens to be the winter solstice (give or take a day). It's also a few days before SOBA's 2011 Winter Ale Festival. So that night we'll host a dedicated Winter Ale Tasting.

And an Event Reminder

As discussed at length in recent dispatches, we're greatly looking forward to SOBA going toe to toe with the most expensive lawyers that DB and their Corporate Masters can find budget for. It's a mystery to most of us why the makers of products such as Tui, Heineken and Tiger haven't conceded graciously on this one - perhaps an expert in corporate manipulation of intellectual property could come along on May the 3rd and explain.

New Beers

Speaking of DB and the manipulation of intellectual property law, the mega-brewery did have the good grace to relinquish one trademark (that they had stopped using). So for a year or so it has been "legal" to make or import a beer in the style of a Saison.

Which is great news because the 600 litre batch of Saison (or Sa!son) made at Invercargill was one of THE beers of 2010. Last year's experimental beer is this year's official autumn seasonal. Now a keg of this beer is on our premises and may well be on tap by the time you read this. Get in before the proprietor drinks it all.

Did we mention our single keg of 8 Wired Barrel Aged Big Smoke Porter? It's on tap now.

Last year Croucher Brewing made a Christmas beer - a big, warming, spiced beer. Just the thing for the cold, northern hemisphere Christmas. In Wellington's climate we thought Easter would be a more fitting time to serve it. Look for it on tap over the hot cross holiday weekend.

New Menu Items

We've found what might be the perfect accompaniment to the big macho, hoppy beers that too many of us are addicted to. Courtesy of the Prodigal Daughter we have access to rare and exquisite Italian cherry chillies. After soaking in olive oil and garlic they are overflowing with enough flavour to jolt the most desensitised palates. For just $5 you can chomp your way through a small bowl of these.

We're then taking the thoroughly infused olive oil that the cherry chillies have been stored in, adding garlic and sea salt and making the sharpest, tastiest bruschetta you've ever tried. Again it's $5 for a small plate.

Easter Trading Hours

On three days a year we're required by law to remain closed. Two of those three days are this weekend. And remember that being closed on those days means closing by midnight the night before. So here's the full rundown:

  • Thursday: open from midday until midnight.
  • Friday: closed all day.
  • Saturday: open from midday until midnight.
  • Sunday: closed all day.
  • Monday: we open one hour late, at 1pm, as it's Anzac Day.

We won't be applying a surcharge on Monday. In fact being a Monday, we'll be offering our standard discount to members of SOBA. And we endorse the views of Wellingtonista on the subject of surcharges:

Surcharges must be clearly indicated BEFORE you order food, not after. This is the same for credit card charges (some places claim extra card charges on public holidays). Feel free to tell any infringers of this that it breaches the Fair Trading Act and that you'd be happy to report them to the Commerce Commission.


We now have 250 subscribing to this email. Congratulations to you, the old-school readers of this email, who receive a far better class of glib propaganda than our facebook followers.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April 14, 2011

More on the Radler Trademark Hearing... Sexual Chocolate... Other Treats... Tastings... For Sale...

More on the Radler Trademark Hearing

A couple of readers have suggested that there has been a tone of premature triumphalism in previous messages on the subject of the upcoming Radler Trademark Hearing. If that is how the messages have been perceived then that is unfortunate. Because while there is as-good-as universal agreement about who is in the right in this dispute, it would be foolhardy to rule out the possibility that a colossal multinational corporation will conjure some kind of legal travesty and win on the day. So any self righteous confidence in our tone should simply reflect our belief in the rightness of SOBA's stand, not certainty regarding the outcome.

That's one reason why we want to celebrate being on the right side before the hearing itself. Plus of course we don't know when the adjudicating body will deliver its decision.

Sexual Chocolate

Joseph Wood at Liberty has a new creation. It's actually a collaboration with home brewer Barry Hannah. We're not sure which of them came up with the name and how much significance it has. But we have confidence that this "intercontinental brown ale" will be as much of a hit as Liberty's West Coast Blonde series. The first keg went on last night, Wednesday.

Other Treats

We've been lucky enough to have a steady supply of Mike's Imperial IPA since the middle of last year. But interruptions to that supply are becoming more common and the next keg to go on could be the last for a while.

Those who enjoyed Yeastie Boys Hud a Wa on the handpump have just a day or two to wait for it to be on tap.

Our last keg (for a month or two) of Green Flash West Coast IPA is on tap now.

There's more of the Sprig and Fern's absurdly aromatic Harvest Pilsner on tap over the next day or so, along with their Doppelbock.


The first Beer & Food Dinner masterminded by our own Sam Whitney took place on Tuesday and was every bit as successful as we expected. Our only regret was that we couldn't fit any more of you in, but we are truly constrained by a kitchen that is little more than a glorified cupboard.

Similar events will follow. It's just a matter of juggling the ideas of Sam and Shiggy and fitting them in with the other tastings we have in mind.

The long awaited Sour Beer Tasting is next week. We know that some of you appreciate that this will be the tasting equivalent of heli-bungying without a helmet and have signed up accordingly. A few places remain for those still wondering whether you're made of the right stuff. Details are here.

We are working on our tasting programme for May and June. Without spoiling the surprise we can promise more extreme beer, more food and something seasonal. Watch this space.

For Sale

Want to own your own working piece of Hashigo Zake? We've upgraded the "naughty fridge" - the one with all rare and expensive bottled beauties behind the bar. You can bid for the original on trademe.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Message to our Customers

In the year and a half since opening, we've received a steady stream of compliments for our staff and service.

Occasionally some customers, with justification, have found fault with the way they've been treated, and have come forward and voiced their complaints in a constructive manner. We believe that in every case we've been able to make peace with those individuals.

Over the last few days however, an odd trend has emerged. From the relative anonymity of twitter a couple of slurs have been thrown our way. It's easy to write these off as the rantings of cranks or even as some kind of campaign. But perhaps these people have valid complaints.

So if anyone reading this was responsible for one of those complaints, or if you know who the complainants were, please let us hear these complaints in a way that lets us take them seriously. For instance, there's an email address on the website. And the bar is open from midday every day. Otherwise can we suggest that those without enough courage to voice their convictions openly and civilly keep them to themselves?

Friday, April 8, 2011

April 7, 2011

Radler Trademark Hearing... Moa... Hud-a-wa'... Marchfest Beer... Treats from the US... Oyster Stout...

Radler Trademark Hearing

Last week, in a well thought-out ploy to confuse Dominion Breweries' lawyers, we announced that our pre-Radler Hearing Social would be on May 2nd. We can now reveal that the first Tuesday of May is in fact the 3rd. So SOBA members and anyone supporting SOBA in their legal fight with a certain multinational industrial brewing corporation should come down and join in the mocking.

Here are some things we would consider doing on the night if DB's trademark didn't make it illegal:

  • Serve free samples of a genuine German Radler from the Waldhaus brewery.
  • Reproduce an authentic Radler by spontaneously blending lager and lemonade.

Instead, all we'll be offering is Monteith's Radler. Yeah right.


Speaking of breweries whose behaviour we don't necessarily approve of, Moa have been in the news lately. Moa is now controlled by the same interests who persuaded many New Zealanders to invest in 42 Below Vodka, before forcing them to sell out to a multinational corporation. And they're revisiting the 42 Below play book, one chapter at a time, starting with goading some of society's most easily riled factions into gifting them publicity.

As irksome as these activities are, they aren't on the same level as subverting intellectual property law and using deep pockets to shut out competition, so we can't be too hard on Moa. Plus there's no sign of the beer deteriorating.

So in that spirit we look forward to Black Power. Yes that's what they've called their chocolate wheat beer. That's right a chocolate wheat beer. According to our scouts at Marchfest, Black Power rewards the drinker with a nice blend of chocolate and isoamyl acetate. And equally welcome will be the return of the beautifully aromatic Five Hop Ale.


In their eternal quest for the most obscure beer name possible, the Yeastie Boys have outdone themselves with Hud-a-wa'.

We'll delegate the task of explaining this to Stu McKinlay himself, who has been looking forward to having a succession of customers approach him (he's the one with randomly coloured trousers) and say "hud-a-wot?".

Meanwhile here's the official description:

Hud-a-wa' Strong (6.8%) could loosely be described as a new world Imperial ESB (or perhaps a mini-Barleywine?). Strong, red, richly malty and judiciously hopped with Nelson-grown Styrian Golding, Pacifica and Cascade hops. Those who liked His Majesty 2010 (and we certainly did) should find this to be their kind of beer.

Hud-a-wa' is making its debut on our hand pump as you read this. (Unless you've left it in your inbox for too long.) It will be on tap soon.

If Hud-a-wa' proves popular, and maybe even if it doesn't, we'll continue to stock it in bottles. That's because it's destined to be Yeastie Boys' second year-round beer. Their third isn't far off either. It will be Rex Attitude, thought to be unique in being a commercial beer made with 100% peated malt. But more about Rex another day...

Marchfest Beers

As well as the aforementioned Moa Black Power we've picked up a handful of other beers that featured at Marchfest. One is Renaissance's Sons of Liberty. What's noteworthy about Sons of Liberty is that the wort comes from the second runnings of Renaissance's yet-to-be-released Barley Wine. Look out also for the elusive Dead Good IPA and Australasia's best porter - Elemental.

We've also picked up a couple of beers from Founders, including their Marchfest beer. That is AK4.7, a hoppy autumn ale. Presumably it's still autumn in Nelson.

Treats from California

A few months ago certain outlets, including ourselves, well.. especially ourselves, were seemingly awash with big, aggressive, hoppy and fresh beer from Ballast Point, Green Flash, Bear Republic and Coronado. We've all done our part because the stocks of Californian beer in New Zealand are starting to run down. Luckily we have access to what supplies are left. But over the next few weeks, be warned that each time a Big Eye, a Sculpin or a Green Flash IPA appears on tap somewhere, it might be the last time for a while.

The good news is that planning has begun on our next shipment of similar products.

Oyster Stout

On handpump.