Saturday, August 27, 2011

August 25, 2011

Daily Tastings M!ller's IPA Leftovers Garage Project Beer 10 Finally Feral The Pacific Beer Expo

Daily Tastings

Next month we're launching a completely new initiative with visitors to Wellington in mind. Since opening we've been getting a steady and increasing flow of overseas guests who are often keen to learn about the New Zealand craft beer scene. We're expecting that flow to increase in September and October when a certain sporting event is on.

With these visitors in mind we're holding daily tastings designed to introduce guests to New Zealand craft beer. They'll take place at 3pm every day from September 10 until October 10. The price will be a mere $25. Attendees will be guided through samples of a variety of styles from a variety of New Zealand craft brewers, will be entertained by our knowledgeable staff and will receive up-to-date notes to take away on the ever-changing New Zealand craft beer scene. Anyone hosting overseas guests in that period and wondering how you'll keep them entertained between matches can now breathe a sigh of relief!

We won't take bookings for these tastings - guests can simply turn up at Hashigo Zake at 3pm on any day in the Sep 10 - Oct 10 period and join in the fun.

M!ller's IPA Release Leftovers

Last Friday's release of M!ller's IPA A and B (renamed Humulus and Lupulus at the last minute) was the expected triumph for Liberty Brewing. Apparently the version called Lupulus is leading the popular vote at, even though it was Humulus that required rare American malts that Joe had to go through torture to acquire. That's gratitude.

We were allocated just over 200 litres. It's an exhausting beer to drink so it was easy to believe it had all been consumed. But around 80 litres remain and this is a beer intended to be drunk fresh. To track what's on tap, remember to check to see what's on tap when.

Garage Project Beer 10

This week's release lasted from 5pm on Tuesday until about 4pm on Wednesday. The boys will be back on Tuesday with another new release - Bière de Garage. It's a French farmhouse ale conditioned with tart cherry. Don't let anyone accuse the brewery of predictability.

The count off of 24 beers is progressing at a faster pace than expected, although there's talk of a week off some time soon. It's not clear whether it's the brewers or the drinkers who need the rest.

For those already scratching their heads, here's a run-down of the beers so far:

  1. Trip Hop
  2. Manuka Smoke
  3. Pernicious Weed
  4. Hazy Daze A
  5. Hazy Daze B
  6. Lord Cockswain's Courage
  7. Venusian Pale Ale
  8. Hāpi Daze
  9. Golden Brown

The Dominion Post did a reasonable job of describing the brewery (and giving our humble outlet a plug) on Monday. The curious can find it here. And is that shot of Pete good-looking or creepy?

Finally Feral

After months of hints and weeks of unequivocal promises, we finally put a Feral beer on tap last night. It was their Rye IPA. And our first beer from arguably Australia's best brewery didn't disappoint. At the time of writing it's still on tap, and should remain so for most of this evening at least.

The Pacific Beer Expo

Over the coming days look out for the poster for the Pacific Beer Expo. It's been designed by our unofficial Creative Director, Sean Golding, and has been drawing gasps and sighs from all who've been shown a sneak preview over the last couple of days. For your own preview, follow this link.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

August 18, 2011

M!ller's IPA Release... Bonus Garage Project... On Tap Soon... Pacific Beer Expo - More Info... Unscripted... News from Coronado...

M!ller's IPA Release

The sense of expectation around the release on Friday of a new pair of beers from Liberty Brewing is as great as for just about any new beer we've ever had. M!ller's IPA Parts A and B are two interpretations of the original Imperial IPA - Russian River's Pliny the Elder. We'll sneak them both on tap at 5pm tomorrow and invite you all to come down, sample both and try and tell which, if either, is better and why.

An additional topic of speculation is whether the Wellington personality that the beer is named after will make an appearance. In spite of his repeated compliments about this email and the fact that we've created new lines of supply to bring in the very beers that he loves, Neil Miller's trips to Hashigo Zake are meticulously rationed. Generally the appearance of Neil is a sign that we're about to be passed over for another award. Undaunted though, we promise a table and chairs will be ready for Neil and brewer Joe Wood tomorrow evening, in case their fans seek autographs, posed pictures, etc.

Bonus Garage Project

At the rate things are going, the Garage Project will have to rename their experimental programme 24/12. We were expecting to settle into a one beer per week cycle next week, but a day after the two-punch that was Venusian Pale Ale and Lord Cockswain's Courage they've decided to drop off a keg of what they're calling Hapi Daze. It's a prototype for a possible future session ale, but in this early form at 5.4%ABV it's a little strong to be considered a session beer. We were pretty impressed and will try to slot it in with this weekend's crowded lineup of rock star beers.

Meanwhile next week's instalment is called Golden Brown and there is some excited hint-dropping about it coming from the Aro Street brewery. It's described as a juicy brown ale with no less that 55IBUs, made with pale, crystal, chocolate and aromatic malt and no fewer than three different American hops.

On Tap Soon

Trying to predict exactly what will be on tap when is going to be harder than ever over the next few days. About the only thing we can guarantee is that M!ller's IPAs A and B will be on tap at 5pm on Friday (although this assumes a problem free drive down the the 'Naki by Joe Wood).

In the aftermath of Beervana we managed to secure the most luxurious leftovers possible, to go with our own consignment of Feral beers. We have less than a full keg of some, like Murrays 2IPA, and large volumes of others, such as Little Creatures Pale Ale and Stone and Wood Pacific Ale. And we've got some utter gems from the last Californian shipment waiting for their turn. At the same time there are keg fulls of some of the greatest recent releases from local breweries waiting to rotate back in. All we can say is, keep an eye on Or if you're reading this on a smartphone,

Pacific Beer Expo - More Info

Last week's announcement of the Pacific Beer Expo certainly triggered a lot of interest and a number of questions. We can reveal a little more:

Tickets for the event will cost $40. This will include a number of tokens that can be exchanged for a beer as well as a credit on food purchases. All in all the format will be similar to, say, the recent Matariki Winter Ales Festival.

Unlike other recent festivals, the beers on offer will be selected and paid for by the organisers. I.e. there will be nothing that we haven't hand-picked and none of it will be donated or discounted for us. This means that relative costs and, we believe, quality will be higher than for any event with a similar format previously held in Wellington.

Labour weekend is also Finals Weekend for an event whose naming might be a breach of the Major Events Management Act. The sessions of the Pacific Beer Expo will be finished two full hours before kick-off in that tournament's last two matches, which should be plenty of time to get home or find a place in a nearby tavern with a high definition Sky feed.


Over the past two and a bit years we've had a kind of recurring relationship with Wellington's film industry. For our first year of operation we benefited greatly from the delay in production of The Hobbit, enabling us to get a lot of valuable work from some of those who have since been toiling away at Stone Street Studios. We also make our premises available occasionally to people shooting footage for such things as Film School projects, rock videos and Craft Beer TV. We even have a master boom operator on our staff. And if you're lucky enough to find yourself watching a re-run of cop show Shark in the Park some time, that's our building playing itself in a former life as a police station.

So it seems right that we should sponsor Unscripted, which is an upcoming exhibition of work by film industry technicians, including one piece by our own Sean Golding. The Unscripted Exhibition will be open to the public from September 3 to 9 in the first floor gallery at the St James. More details are at

News from Coronado

We learned this week that Coronado Brewing, one of our stable of Californian imports, are expanding into a new brewery. Details are here. Note the short list of export markets. The remarkable part of this is the scale they're brewing at currently. 10 barrels (about 1200 litres) very much puts them at the micro end of the craft brewing spectrum. We really are lucky to be getting these beers.

By the way, a couple of wholesale orders have made Coronado's Saison by the Sea the first beer from our most recent Californian order to sell out from our warehouse. When the current stock here at Hashigo Zake sells out, that will be it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

August 11, 2011

Raising Our Bat... BrewNZ and Beervana... Event Announcement #1 - M!ller's IPA Release... Event Announcement #2 - The Inaugural Pacific Beer Expo... Event Reminder - The Hophead's Picnic... Feral Brewing... The Garage Project Continues... More Bière Québécoise... The Radler Wars..

Raising Our Bat

This is the one hundredth issue of this bulletin. The astute will also recognise this as a sign that our second birthday is looming - we'll have a thorough gloat about that in good time. But for now we'll limit ourselves to reflecting on the role of this little weekly missive.

It's hard to believe that a plain old weekly circular has a place in 2011. This can never have the visual impact of a glossy, printed publication, such as the junk mail that falls out of your newspaper or magazine, imposing on you the need to dispose of it. And electronic communications are supposed to be done with typo-filled 140 character messages on social media. The idea that people such as yourselves have the time and patience to read through to the end of a ten paragraph piece of prose belongs in the mid-20th century.

And yet some of you must be reading this right through, because we often get comments on details hidden deep in the text. And we've even had a spurt in subscriptions in the last week or to. We're up to 276. Not exactly News of the World numbers, but the read counts often exceed the sent count, suggesting some of you are forwarding the email to friends. And we believe the level of literacy and, well, general sophistication of our readers is as high as any subscription-based weekly email spam in the southern hemisphere, making any one of you worth ten of other non-subscribing citizens.

Or to put this another way, thanks for subscribing.

BrewNZ and Beervana

The busiest week in the calendar for New Zealand's craft brewing industry is over and beer geeks and brewers are drifting back to their workplaces and homes around the country. Most will be pretty satisfied - perhaps for no reason other than the high level of media exposure the industry received over the last week, some of it actually not at all sniggering and condescending.

Surely the week's biggest winner was Søren Eriksen. How must it feel to win an award last won by DB? Early last week when we launched his new Belgian Quadruple, Sultan, Søren revealed that he now sells a lot more beer overseas than in New Zealand. It's as if 8 Wired are reliving the classic New Zealand experience - modest local sales followed by foreign success then eventual recognition at home. Regardless we at Hashigo Zake are rapt about his triumph.

But it was great to see regular suppliers of Hashigo Zake dominating the trophies and medals more than last year - particularly Emerson's, Renaissance, Yeastie Boys, Liberty, Townshend, Sprig and Fern, Cock and Bull, Tuatara and Epic.

The afternoon after the awards came session one of the re-imagined Beervana. The new owner, David Cryer, took a lot of risks buying the right to stage the event and making many crucial changes, including a move to a venue that was, at least superficially, far less hospitable. To come through with increased ticket sales and a lot of satisfied customers is little short of a triumph. Like many of you, we have strong reservations about certain changes, but the 1000% improvement in the quality of the food probably outweighs those.

We chose to support the event by advertising in the programme and providing duty managers to some of the bars. This created a massive burden for our staff who racked up a lot of hours last week. While it's not appropriate to brag about our own staff here, let's say that their skill, professionalism and stamina has been noticed.

Event Announcement #1 - M!ller's IPA Release

Award winning brewer (as of last week) Joseph Wood, of Liberty Brewing, has been more excited about his next release than any beer we've previously heard him talk about. And this is saying something. In fact he is so enthusiastic about M!ller's IPA that he insists on being present at the release. This would be fine except that his day job puts constraints on his opportunities to come to Wellington and he says that Friday August the 19th has to be it.

Joe has been planning this for some time but was waiting for some very specific ingredients. The concept is to take the recipe for the world's most famous Imperial IPA - Pliny the Elder - and produce two beers based on it. The difference between the beers will be the origin of one of the ingredients.

As mentioned, Joe will be on hand and expects to listen while Wellington's most experienced beer drinkers try to tell what separates the two versions.

Now M!ller's IPA is named in homage to one of this email's most devoted readers - Neil Miller. To be fair, Neil has other claims to fame, such as being New Zealand's most outspoken advocate of the gratuitous addition of hops to otherwise perfectly balanced beers. In fact it's surprising that he hasn't trademarked the slogan "needs more hops". We trust that regardless of the homage Joe is paying him, the mere aroma of these beers will draw Neil down on the night.

Event Announcement #2 - The Inaugural Pacific Beer Expo

Beervana rightly emphasises the Australasian brewing scene with a goal of including every New Zealand brewery. But we think that imported craft beer is important to New Zealand's drinkers, home brewers and commercial brewers. And since we happen to be the importer of a good number of beers from the US, Japan and Australia as well as being fans of many great New Zealand breweries we have decided to stage the Pacific Beer Expo as a showcase of the very best craft beer from the Pacific rim.

The inaugural event will take place on the Saturday and Sunday of Labour weekend. That is finals weekend for the Rugby World Cup. The sessions will finish two hours before kick-off of the 3rd/4th playoff game on the Saturday and the grand final on the Sunday.

The venue will be the Boatshed. For those familiar with SOBA's Matariki festival, which is at the same venue, imagine an event on a similar scale, but over two days instead of one, and with a lineup of beers that will make your head spin.

The lineup will be the absolute pick of everything that has been available to us over the last year. For instance we have a single keg of Baird's West Coast Wheat Wine and their Kiwi Strong Pale Ale. And we held back one of our kegs of Ballast Point's Victory at Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter. From our upcoming shipment of Feral Beer, we'll be holding back the one and only keg of Barrel-fermented Hop Hog. There will also be the most dazzling array of American hop-bombs ever seen in this part of the world. Meanwhile we're in discussions with a number of local breweries about what we might source from them - be it a keg of something famous or a one-off.

Tickets for the event will be available from the bar or from in September.

Event Reminder - The Hophead's Picnic

In the aftermath of Beervana we think that it's important that dedicated beer geeks don't allow blood to pollute their hopstream. And since we started bringing in Californian beer at the end of last year we've never actually built a tasting around any of these beers. That's why next Tuesday we're holding the Hophead's Picnic 2011 - California Edition. Details are at

Feral Brewing

A member of our staff was on Beervana's Australian bar for much of the festival and we know that West Australia's Feral Brewing made a big impression on many attendees. This wasn't a surprise to us. The brewery regularly comes out on top in competitions and those of us who have visited the brewpub in the Swan Valley can vouch for the extraordinary quality of the whole range. So we've been negotiating with the brewery to send us some beer for months. And the resulting order will reach our warehouse tomorrow (Friday).

As it happens our role with Beervana gave us the chance to acquire any Feral beer that was unconsumed during the festival, so we now have a respectable stockpile of beer from them.

So look out for the extraordinary Hop Hog IPA making its first appearance here over the next week, with more from the Feral range appearing too. We also picked up a stock of Stone and Wood Pacific Ale, Little Creatures Pale Ale and a very small amount of Murray's Icon 2IPA so look out for those too.

The Garage Project Continues

Beers four and five of the Garage Project's 24/24 project came on this week. We expect the embryonic brewery to settle into a one beer per week schedule soon, but next week will see beers six and seven released. They come as a pair because they've been brewed with an event in mind. That event is outlined here. To truly understand the event and the beers it helps to have a grasp of local graphic novels, steampunk and the work of Greg Broadmore.

But we won't play the role of popular culture documenter today. We'll simply say that on the same day that Dr Groadbort and Funky Food at the Roxy takes place, we'll also be serving these two beers:

  • Lord Cockswain’s Courage - a 6% robust porter with blackstrap molasses, fermented with abbey ale yeast and conditioned on high toast American oak chips.
  • Venusian Pale Ale – a 7% pale ale made with citric US hops and every citrus-related adjunct Pete could get his hands on, including kaffir lime, lemon grass, grapefruit peal, coriander and galangal. Actually it sounds more like a Thai green curry than a beer, but today's out-of-control experiment could be tomorrow's Rex Attitude.

More Bière Québécoise

Soon - probably next Monday - we'll top up our bottle stock from several Quebec breweries. In particular, look out for:

  • The long awaited return of Dieu du Ciel Route des Épices.
  • Two more beers from les Trois Mousquetaires - brewers of the fabulous Baltic Porter that we've been gushing over for the last couple of months. This time we're getting their Dopplebock and Weizenbock.
  • St Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale from McAuslan.

The Radler Wars

The legal fight may be over for now, but many of us will take every opportunity we can to mock to DB's misuse of intellectual property law. This week though the fight turned ugly. Our underground premises rely on a pump to make all sewerage and drainage work. They stopped working late on Tuesday because a beer bottle had been dropped into the vent that lets air into the pump. The beer brand... Monteiths.

Friday, August 5, 2011

August 4, 2011

Californian Beer... Garage Project... Friends in the Media... Beervana Rebooted...

Californian Beer

We are, once again, probably the best source of Californian beer in the southern hemisphere. On Tuesday a team of our best and brightest young staff squeezed into Dave's car and headed off to our refrigerated warehouse and emerged half a day later, unshaven, dishevelled and frostbitten after applying individual labels to around 4000 bottles. Since then we've been re-stocking the bar's fridges and fulfilling wholesale orders to customers around town (and a couple in Auckland).

The climax of our container-welcoming activities is tonight's (Thursday's) Moylan's launch. On tap will be Nor*Cal IPA, Irish Red, Kiltlifter Scotch Ale and Dragoon's Stout. You can try a stemmed glass (around 330ml) of all four for just $20.

Fittingly today is International IPA Day and we can think of no better way to mark it than to launch a great Californian IPA.

Over the coming weeks we'll rotate more Moylan's, Green Flash, Coronado and Bear Republic beers onto the taps. Keep checking to know what's on, or just come in every day.

Garage Project

On Tuesday night Garage Project became what we understand is Central Wellington's only full-time, commercial brewery. It was an exciting evening with no fewer than three extremely good new beers tried for the first time, media present and, inevitably, not enough beer to satisfy everyone. We knew this would happen and tried to find a way to ration it fairly but there were a few disappointed on the night to whom we apologise.

To those who missed out, please note that similar volumes of the same beers will be available at Beervana, but may not last beyond one session. Then early next week we'll have two more new beers from the Aro St nano-brewery. They will be a pair of pale ales made with one point of difference - which of two new varieties are used. These hops are so secret that we only know them as 97-77-09 and 99-38-29. The beers will be named Hazy Daze - Experimental Hop A and Hazy Daze - Experimental Hop B. And this time the beers will actually be for sale, and there will be more of them, so our guess is that they won't run out as fast.

Please also note that the brewery take the fact that they are in what is essentially an R&D phase very seriously. So they have gone to great lengths to facilitate the collection of feedback. We now have Garage Project coasters around the bar and they are actually small but perfectly formed feedback entry sheets. And there's also a collection box mounted beside the entrance to our lounge. So if you want to influence future releases from Garage Project please fill in and drop off a coaster.

Friends in the Media

One of the innovations in the leadup to this year's Beervana has been to pair breweries with journalists. The journalists cover the brewery in whatever kind of style they are blessed with while some kind of collaborative brew takes place.

One of the pairings was of Yeastie Boys and Radio New Zealand's This Way Up programme. Coincidentally the Boys have another date with Radio New Zealand. They will appear in the prized Playing Favourites slot with the mother of the nation, Kim Hill, this Saturday morning.

We've previously discussed the mastery that Yeastie Boys have of Rock 'n Roll culture. We're delighted that this news has got through to the state radio elite and we wish them well. Sadly Saturday's broadcast clashes with the AGM of SOBA and we know how much everyone is looking forward to that. We'll do our best to play recordings of the show back at Hashigo Zake later in the week.

Meanwhile our friends at the aforementioned Garage Project were paired with TVNZ's breakfast television programme. That was their camera snooping around at the launch on Tuesday night. We're told that a story on their collaboration will air on Friday morning. We can but hope that this time Lucas de Jong tastes the beer before reporting on it.

Beervana Rebooted

The 2011 version of Beervana kicks off tomorrow with a new owner, a new format and a new venue. We wish David Cryer well and we welcome those of you who have left your home towns around New Zealand and Australia and are here in the bar now drinking while this email is written and won't actually read it until next week.

Look out for a selection of our staff keeping the event's volunteer force compliant with the Sale of Liquor Act. We'll also have an ad in the programme and we're promised that we have first rights to pick over the leftovers to provide stock for next week.