Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May 26, 2011

Australian International Beer Awards... On Tap Soon...

Australian International Beer Awards

We hope that by now that the success of a number of New Zealand breweries at the Australian International Beer Awards is not news.

Moa did their best to boast about their success, only to consolidate their reputation for crass publicity by issuing a press release that gloated about "sticking it to the Aussies". Their release went on to congratulate New Zealand's Epic brewery on their awards. But Epic's Luke Nicholas hadn't actually entered any beers at Melbourne after being scathing about the judging and awards dinner last year. (The Epic brewery that won gongs in Melbourne was in fact from Utah.)

But there is no more pleasing success at these awards than that of Renaissance. It wasn't mentioned in last year's awards publication but at the dinner they were named as having come close to winning the award for Champion Small Brewery. (That prize went to Nøgne Ø.) This year their Craftsman Chocolate Oatmeal Stout not only won a gold medal but took the trophy for Champion Stout.

We can't wait for our allocation of this year's Craftsman to turn up soon on a very big pallet at our front door.

Last year certain of us had the pleasure of attending the 2010 AIBA Awards Dinner and sharing the table of the Australian importer of Nøgne Ø, as they surprised everyone there by taking away the gong for the champion brewery. This year Nøgne Ø submitted more of their beers for judgement and while they didn't take out the big prize again, they did pick up a gold medal for their amazing Imperial Brown Ale. We have a keg of this beer waiting in storage and it will come out some time in the next few weeks.

Plenty of other favourites of ours did well in Melbourne. Cock and Bull's Monk's Habit picked up a gold medal which is well deserved although it was categorised simply as "Draught Ale - Other", whatever that means. The aforementioned Moa got a gold for Five Hop Ale as a "British Style Pale Ale". Yeastie Boys picked up a swag of medals, as did Invercargill Brewery.

Altogether there were over 30 awards to New Zealand beers. Anyone interested can find the full results at http://www.beerawards.com/pdfs/AIBA%20Cataloge%202011%20Final%20V.3.pdf.

Apart from New Zealand breweries, big winners at the AIBA were Perth's Feral whose Hop Hog was the Champion Ale and Northern California's Moylan's who took over from Nøgne ø as Champion Brewery. The good news is that we expect to be able to give our customers a taste of the output of these amazing breweries in the coming months.

On Tap Soon

Fans of Epic Brewing will have little to complain about over the next week or so. Their new Imperial IPA, Hop Zombie, is on tap right now and Armageddon and Mayhem are set to make it on tap any day.

Rescue Red Ale, the collaboration from Yeastie Boys, Renaissance and 8 Wired was an enormous hit last week and we'll have more of it on soon. Remember that drinking this beer raises money for victims of the Christchurch earthquake and Queensland floods.

Invercargill Brewery have another new beer out. It's a Scotch ale answering to the name Men’nskurrts. See how it stands up next to Bear Republic's Red Rocket Ale.

A new Yeastie Boys arrived a few days ago with a lot less fanfare than Rex Attitude got. It's Fool's Gold, a beer expressly aiming for the "sessionable but hoppy" category, much loved by us and you. We had a small amount for the hand pump that was consumed ridiculously quickly earlier this week. We also have a kegged (i.e. cold and fizzy) version of the beer to go on tap shortly.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May 19, 2011

Preamble... Events... On Tap Soon...


Yes that’s right, it’s a “preamble”. In other words: for actual news, skip this section.

Procuring extraordinary beer is inevitably a cyclical process. The need to assemble large volumes of beer for international freight, rather than just posting a keg at a time, imposes that on us. And while Hashigo Zake has averaged four new beers on tap each week since opening, there are some weeks when we have twice as many and some weeks slightly fewer.

And arranging the importation of those beers means there are times when our minds are elsewhere. Right now we are in the midst of negotiations with parties in Australia (where coincidentally the Australian International Beer Awards are taking place), Scandinavia, Japan and California.

Some of these negotiations will bear fruit within weeks, maybe even days. It may take months or years before we all see the benefit of others.

So if you think the last 20 months have been good drinking, the fun has only just begun. We’re conniving to make Hashigo Zake during the winter of 2011 the most beer-spoilt time and place in New Zealand history. As it happens we have some gems coming on tap in the coming days that deserve your full attention. But if these look tempting (as they should), keep in mind that the best is yet to come.



Since last week the last few places in Shiggy’s Asian Beer & Food evening have been snapped up. This leaves the Winter Solstice Tasting on June 21 as the only event that we are currently taking bookings for. Participants can expect some of the darkest, most decadent and most warming beers in our cellar. We’ll confirm some of the lineup in early June, but you can assume that some of the beers will come from countries with winters far darker and colder than ours. You can follow the link to the Cult Beer Store to make a booking or do it in person at the bar. http://www.cultbeerstore.co.nz/collections/tastings/products/winter-solstice-tasting

The Fourth of July

It is with great pleasure that we can announce our Great US Beer Spectacular on July the 4th. By July we expect to receive fresh stocks of Californian beer, including a number that should be completely new to New Zealand. We’ll offer a special ticket that will let you buy tastes of every US beer on tap at the time at a bargain price (a little like what we did for our Green Flash and Ballast Point launches last year). We’ll also put on some fitting celebratory food.

And all opinions on foreign policy are to be left at the door, please. This is an occasion to celebrate craft beer and one or two other of the numerous things that the US does extremely well.

This event won’t require booking. But since it’s a Monday we do recommend that to enjoy it properly you take some or all of the afternoon off work.

On Tap Soon

From Baird in Japan (in our opinion Asia’s best brewery) comes possibly the first Imperial Pale Lager we’ve ever tried. It’s called Hatsujozo and was designed to be drunk in the middle of the northern hemisphere winter. It should be on tap in the next few days.

Also new this week is the beer that was intended to cheer Christchurch residents up. We’re not sure how happy they’ll be to hear it’s being drunk in Wellington, but it is also a fund-raiser. Rescue Red Ale is a collaboration between Yeastie Boys, Renaissance and 8 Wired and it’s described as a red saison. We have great expectations, especially since they did away with the working title – Bag Of Suck.

Mike’s in Taranaki have decided to release in its own right the Imperial Porter that will be the base beer for the next Whisky Porter. Our first keg of Mike’s Imperial Porter will be on shortly.

There are plenty of beers returning that are rare or favourites or both:

  • From the Cock and Bull, Fuggles and Monks Habit.
  • Bear Republic’s Apex IPA
  • Mash Up Pale Ale
  • Golden Ticket Black Emperor
  • Mata Blondie Wheat
  • Renaissance Elemental Porter – still our fastest selling porter and almost certainly the best beer of its kind in Australasia.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

May 12, 2011

No News... Truffled Baby Peaches... Coming On Soon... Asian Cuisine and Beer...

No News is err... no news

We're getting a steady flow of enquiries about the outcome of last week's hearing into SOBA's challenge of DB's trademark of Radler. Unfortunately the process isn't instant and a decision is expected to take a matter of weeks.

We have heard bits and pieces about what went on during the hearing. It sounds as though SOBA's stance was given the most thorough legal test that money can buy and the outcome is very much in the balance. At least we know which side was in the right, regardless.

Truffled Baby Peaches

One of the hits of this week's tasting of gourmet italian foods matched with beers were the Truffled Baby Peaches, paired with Baird Rising Sun Pale Ale. The peaches are picked when they're about the size of a large olive for the purpose of thinning the crop and are preserved in vinegar and oil with pungent slices of truffle.

There were some expressions of interest from people hoping to take some of these delicacies home, so we've secured a few jars and as a service to our customers will re-sell them at a very reasonable markup.

We've also put them on the menu to be served in a manner similar to the Italian Cherry Chillies that are proving something of a cult hit.

Coming On Soon

It would be wrong to let a week go by without putting on something new. This week we have Apache Amber Ale from up-and-coming brewery Golden Eagle.

There's also a brand new beer from Joseph Wood at Liberty. It's called Darkest Day and Joe's describing it as an American Stout.

We're expecting a delivery of Epic's new Imperial IPA, named Hop Zombie in an apparent homage to Luke's favourite bar. To fill out the shipment from Auckland we're expecting some Epic Mayhem and Armageddon.

Things must be returning to normal at Harrington's because we not only have a keg of Rogue Hop Pilsner, we finally have bottles of Three Boys Oyster Stout, which suggests that Harrington's bottling line is working again.

In the way of imported beer, we have Baird's amazing Teikoku IPA on tap right now, with Nøgne ø's #100 (is it a barley wine or is it an imperial IPA?) waiting in the wings.

Fans of Green Flash have it good at the moment. Their Tripel is on right now, with Double Stout not far off. And we can be confident of continuing to source beer from the terribly fashionable Green Flash, judging by the scale of the expansion they're going through at the moment: http://www.greenflashbrew.com/blog/?cat=3.

Asian Cuisine and Beer

A handful of places remain for our next beer dinner - Shiggy's East Asian/South East Asian inspired, five course, beer-matched dinner on June 10. Details are at http://www.cultbeerstore.co.nz/collections/tastings/products/beer-and-asian-cuisine.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

May 5, 2011

New Improved Cult Beer Store... Antipasti and Beer... Last Week's Question... Rex, Rex, Rex... New This Week...

New Improved Cult Beer Store

The Cult Beer Store was launched just over a year ago using a fairly unadorned implementation of an off the shelf e-commerce tool. The objective was pretty simple - make our products available to those who can't make it down to the bar.

We've taken the odd jibe about the look and feel and general usability of the site. Now those jibes are set to evaporate, or err.. perhaps redouble. Because we tracked down the Web Development Division of Hashigo Zake Corporation and told them they had to stay away from the maid cafes until they came up with a revamped site. So, ladies and gentlemen, please put your mice, trackpads and touchscreens to good use and click through to ... the NEW Cult Beer Store.

The good news is that we've come up with a simple but effective way to navigate to each brewery's whole range. We've also built in some useful predefined searches to easily find beers by style.

There are some peculiarities. Google Chrome offers to translate the Dieu du Ciel page into English. And Firefox inexplicably decides to dynamically redraw the outlines around the menus as they are used, creating a weird effect.

The design is a lot more economical with space, so even though we don't have alternate pages for smart phones, it should be easier to see on a little screen.

One thing that hasn't changed is our payment options. We believe that bank deposit and paypal between them offer enough choice for you, without imposing on us the expense and trouble of dealing with the local providers of payment gateways.

Antipasti and Beer

It's a matter of days until one of our most experimental tastings. We've already added the Prodigal Daughter's Cherry Chillies to our snack menu (to ecstatic groans from most who've tried them), and this is a chance to see what other foods from their catalogue might go well with beer.

What might go with truffle oil soaked baby peaches? Or with roasted capsicums having a flavour and texture half way to a nectarine? Or here's an easier one: what could we match with sardines?

Whether the pairings work or not we know that the quality of both components is such that everyone should have a great time.

You can book at http://www.cultbeerstore.co.nz/products/beer-and-antipasti or by going up and paying at the bar in the next few days.

Last Week's Question

Thank you to everyone who participated in last week's nano-survey, asking for suggestions for what beers would make good gifts from Hashigo Zake to some of our northern hemisphere brewing friends later this month. There were a lot of votes for Hopwired, PKB and Oyster Stout. And a lot of suggestions that something from Emerson's should be there. In other words, no surprises.

Rex, Rex, Rex

Congratulations are due to Stu and Sam at Yeastie Boys for garnering press attention on an epic scale for their new beer, Rex Attitude. Perhaps the day will come when the attention of the mass media actually comes with some understanding of the product.

The mass hysteria they generated meant all the initial supplies in Wellington were consumed in a few hours last Saturday. But we've all restocked. The real test will come when we and other bars start putting this challenging new beer on tap. This will happen in the next day or so.

We're also going to sacrifice a bottle to go into this Friday's overnight chilli - the dish so overloaded with flavour it needs all night to cook.

New This Week

One of our favourite breweries has been quiet lately, presumably because they've been thinking up new names for their beers. But this week, from Nelson's Golden Bear, we've taken delivery of Party Pils and Hanky Panky Pale Ale. Hanky Panky will be on tap very shortly.

It's been a while since we had Invercargill's Pitch Black on tap, but it's going to be our stout of choice over the coming days.

Our first keg of Emerson's Bird Dog single hop pale ale was consumed in a matter of hours last Friday. Bird Dog (reprise) will be on shortly.

Mash Up is a New Zealand Pale Ale produced collaboratively by a number of breweries. Altogether just about every New Zealand brewery was involved, although not so many were actually there in Auckland on brew day, where the effort was led by Epic and Steam. Most of it has been bottled but we have a keg that will go on very soon.

Finally for those who get excited about these things... Three Boys Oyster Stout is both on tap and handpump right now.