Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 24, 2011

Frantic Days... Townshend... Adam Page and the Counts... Garage Project 22/24...

Frantic Days

These are frantic days at HZHQ. We have a container load of ultra-fresh Californian beer somewhere between the wharf and our warehouse, we're working day and night to spread the word about Nøgne ø beer while the brewery's head brewer is in New Zealand and we're planning for next week's Townshend tasting. Even so two of our staff found time to do particularly well at last night's Regional Wines and Spirits Beer Options Competition. (Dave's team made it three wins in a row, while Shiggy's were hot on their heals.)

So please understand if this week's news is low on details.

We can report with pleasure though, that the visit of Nøgne ø's Kjetil Jikiun has been a roller coaster of brewery visits, interviews, collaborative brews, formal and informal tastings but most of all a LOT of travel in planes, cars and boats. If our goal was to exhaust our guest then we may just have succeeded. We are indebted to the energetic, charismatic and knowledgeable Kjetil and his business partner and wife Cathie for their commitment to this whirlwind tour.

It's important that we acknowledge the assistance of the fabulous Museum Art Hotel, near us over on Cable St, for putting up our guests here in Wellington.


As previously mentioned our tasting dedicated to the work of ex-pat Englishman and Nelson ale brewer Martin Townshend is creeping up on us. This tasting takes place on November 29 at 6:30pm. You can book at the bar or here.

Adam Page and The Counts

We had high expectations for last Saturday's first instalment by Adam Page and the Counts and those of us who squeezed into the lounge that night weren't disappointed. Our first use of the room for a late night gig proved that it's a fantastic and intimate venue for music of this kind, even if Adam banged his head on one of the light fittings disturbingly often.

This series of gigs continues next Saturday at 11pm and continues for three more lively, skilled and thoroughly entertaining Saturday nights. And best of all there is no charge.

Garage Project 22/24

Actually the 22nd beer is going to wait another week as the guys toy with us by returning with another rebrew. After all this is an exercise in research and development, and part of research is repeating your experiments. That means the 22nd, 23rd and 24th brews will fittingly come out on the last three Tuesdays before Xmas (and well before the end of 24 weeks).

So it's to be a rebrew of Pernicious Weed which some of us remember as being a particular hit back on August 2nd when the guys brought their first three beers down to Hashigo Zake. It's a 7.5% assault of Rakau and Nelson Sauvin hops, named in honour of the threat to social and moral standards that the hop plant represented in the 1500s and perhaps does again today.

We've heard whispers that the embryonic brewery might be close to ordering more brewing equipment that won't be so.. er.. bonsai. While it will be slightly sad for Hashigo Zake that our privileged position as the brewery's only regular outlet will be lost, it really will be great for everyone if more of their recipes get brewed on full-sized equipment.

November 17, 2011

Second Thoughts... Townshend... Adam Page and the Counts... Garage Project 21.5/24... On Tap Soon...

Second Thoughts

It looks as though we may, for once, have over-estimated what kinds of events you, our customers were ready for. Our banquet to celebrate the visit of one of the world's most gifted and charismatic brewers was always ambitious and holding it on the same Sunday as Toast Martinborough may just have been expecting too much. So we're no longer taking bookings for this Sunday's planned event.

Instead we'll be welcoming Nøgne Ø's Kjetil Jikiun to Hashigo Zake in more informal fashion on Sunday evening, prior to his hectic schedule of collaborative brewing and media engagements.

Anyone still keen to meet a Scandinavian brewing legend might want to consider hanging out in the bar in the early evening of Sunday or Monday.


As previously mentioned our tasting dedicated to the work of ex-pat Englishman and Nelson ale brewer Martin Townshend is creeping up on us. This tasting takes place on November 29 at 6:30pm. You can book at the bar or here.

Adam Page and The Counts

And as if this month didn't have enough special occasions, this is a good time to remind everyone of our first ever musical "residency". For four Saturdays, starting on the 19th of November, we're hosting our favourite new Wellingtonian Adam Page and his band The Counts in our lounge for some late night jazz.

This series of gigs starts at around 11pm each night and there is no charge.

Garage Project 21.5/24

With the last few instalments of Garage Project's 24 experimental beers being somewhat high on gravity, some of these monsters are proving slow to mature. Which means there won't be a new beer ready for next Tuesday. In its place will be a repeat of one of the previous entries that the brewery thinks has particular promise for them. That beer is Red Rocks.

Way back in September the first batch of Red Rocks was described as a ruby red ale with a nice caramel body and an over-generous amount of whole cone Nelson Sauvin hops. A small volume of it will be available from pm on Tuesday.

On Tap Soon

As usual, there are some pretty tasty treats due on tap over the next few days. Look out for:

  • Perth's (and probably Australia's) best brewery, Feral, is keen to put one of the world's most esoteric hops to good use. That hop is the Japan-bred Sorachi Ace. In theory Golden Ace is a Belgian golden ale. In reality it's a vehicle for the hop world's answer to the durian. It's a beer that leaves you questioning just what flavours should be brought into a beer by hops, and yet it somehow works. It will be back on tap over the weekend.
  • Green Flash Imperial IPA and Hop Head Red - we're hanging on for new stocks of Green Flash bottled beers, but we have a few kegs left of some of their hop monsters from our previous shipment.
  • Hopwired. Any more information needed?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 10, 2011

Dining Event of the Year... Townshend... Adam Page and the Counts... A Good Thing... Garage Project 21/24... On Tap Soon... Mikkeller in the Fridge...

Dining Event of the Year

As mentioned last week, we're very excited about the event at the centre of what is a surprisingly busy November for us. To the best of our knowledge, our Zibibbo / Hashigo Zake / Nøgne Ø Banquet, with Nøgne Ø Head Brewer Kjetil Jikiun in attendance, is about the most ambitious food and beer event staged in New Zealand this year. The matching of Zibibbo's rich, Mediterranean-inspired cuisine with the ambitious, complex beers of Nøgne Ø should be compelling.

The dinner takes place on Sunday, November 20 at 6pm (not 7pm as previously stated). Ticket holders can come down to Hashigo Zake from 5pm and enjoy a pre-dinner drink from Nøgne Ø's range from our taps. Tickets cost $165 ($150 to SOBA members) and are on sale at Hashigo Zake. Full price tickets are also available online here. Places are limited.


We have one other pretty special event before the end of the month as well. It's our first ever tasting dedicated to the beers of Martin Townshend. We're already seeing a disproportionate number of bookings coming from customers with English origins, but it will be nice to hear some other accents too. This tasting is on November 29 at 6:30pm. You can book at the bar or here.

Adam Page and The Counts

And as if this month didn't have enough special occasions, this is a good time to remind everyone of our first ever musical "residency". For four Saturdays, starting on the 19th of November, we're hosting our favourite new Wellingtonian Adam Page and his band The Counts in our lounge for some late night jazz.

This series of gigs starts at around 11pm each night and there is no charge.

New Release Tuesday

Don't say we don't know a good thing when we see it. Garage Project's 24/24 programme of rapid fire experiments in brewing is nearing its end, but the cycle of Tuesday releases has been so much fun for all concerned that it would be tragic not to continue it.

Now we'll leave it up to Garage Project to explain the next phase in their plan for world domination, but we believe we will still see experimental beers from them, just not at the rate of one a week. Meanwhile we receive a steady flow of new beers from other local and overseas breweries. (In fact we generally put on around four new beers a week!) But few of these beers receive the fanfare they deserve. So when 24/24 is over the tradition of a release at 5pm every Tuesday will live on.

Garage Project 21/24

As mentioned, we're into the home straight of 24/24, and there are hints that none of the last four will be in any way small. On Tuesday it will be an American Barley Wine going by the name Hellbender. In Pete's own words:

A powerful American style barleywine with a huge malt grist and a hop bill responsible for consuming the last of our not insubstantial supplies of Amarillo, Centennial and Columbus hops. Big malt, big hops.

On Tap Soon

As usual, there are some pretty tasty treats due on tap over the next few days. Look out for:

  • ParrotDog's second beer and one of the hits of the Pacific Beer Expo - the hoppy red ale Bloodhound.
  • A rare keg of Invercargill Boysenbeery.
  • Our last keg of the 2011 batch of Renaissance MPA.
  • A one-off keg of Baird's wilfully tasty brown ale known as Angry Boy.

Mikkeller in the Fridge

As mentioned last week, we just received a small amount of a few Mikkeller beers. This afternoon we're going to try and find room for some of them in the fridge.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

November 3, 2011

Celebrity Visitor... Speaking of Scandinavian Beer.. Townshend Tasting... Hard Act To Follow... Spiced Beer Season...

Celebrity Visitor

This month we're organising what is for us a completely new kind of venture. We invited Kjetil Jikiun, founder and head brewer at Norway's Nøgne Ø, to come and visit New Zealand as our guest and he has accepted.

We think the Nøgne Ø story is of uncanny relevance to New Zealand's booming craft brewing sector. Kjetil started the Nøgne Ø brewery with no justifiable expectation of success - Norway had little history of craft brewing, a conflicted attitude to alcohol consumption and high excise tax. But by producing beers of uncompromising character and quality and taking advantage of export markets early on the brewery survived and helped foster the local market which is now more accepting.

(For more background on the brewery, read this blog entry.)

Kjetil will only be in New Zealand for a short time and we're trying to show him around and introduce him to some local brewers. But we're organising one major public event :- we're collaborating with our neighbour (and landlord!) Zibibbo restaurant on a meal so extravagant that rather than call it a degustation or beer dinner, we're calling it a Banquet.

One of many highlights of the banquet will be serving the result of a previous Nøgne Ø collaboration. A year ago Kjetil and Mikkel Borg Bjergsø of Mikkeller visited Scotland's Brewdog where they came up with a hybrid of their respective uber-strong imperial stouts - Mikkeller Black, Brewdog Tokyo* and Nøgne Ø Dark Horizon. The result was Black Tokyo* Horizon and we're looking forward to trying it with dessert.

The Nøgne Ø - Zibibbo - Hashigo Zake Banquet takes place on Sunday, November 20 at 7pm. Tickets will cost $165 ($150 to SOBA members) and will be on sale at Hashigo Zake from Monday November 7. Places are limited.

Speaking of Scandinavian Beer..

It's been a while since we took delivery of anything new from Mikkeller. That just changed because as this is being written a pallet has arrived at our chilled warehouse. Unlike previous batches from Mikkeller, this shipment is mainly made up of kegged beer, which means that we'll soon be offering the likes of 1000IBU, Big Worse Barleywine and Black on tap. Yes you read that right. We may have to revisit our policy of not serving shots...

Townshend Tasting

To those of our customers sporting English accents it's likely that Martin Townshend is our most popular supplier. Martin is an ex-pat pom himself who has turned his hobby into a mission to create authentic English-style ales at his small brewery in Rosedale, Nelson. Those beers have become a mainstay on our beer engines.

It is a pleasure then to host a tasting dedicated to celebrating Martin's contribution to the New Zealand craft beer scene and work our way through most or perhaps all of his range.

This tasting will take place at 6:30pm on November 29. Tickets cost $35. You can book and pay at the bar or at

Hard Act to Follow

This week's Garage Project release broke all their previous sales records (gone in about 70 minutes) and it may just have been the most universally popular. So the chilli chocolate black lager was a welcome reminder that experimentation can yield great results, since a few people with hyper-sensitive palates seemed to struggle with the green coffee bean saison.

So suddenly expectations must be high again when the guys wander in next week with Home Bake. It's described as a spiced roast kumera ale, playing on the new tradition of pumpkin beers (that should arguably be called cinnamon/nutmeg beers) that often appear at this time of year. Apparently cubes of kumera were tossed in brown sugar, roasted until caramelised, then thrown into the boil with cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla beans.

It does beg the question - if and when these Garage Project experiments are scaled up to a much bigger plant, will they employ assistant brewers or kitchen hands?

Spiced Beer Season

Continuing on the theme of seasonal spiced beers, we can provide updates on a couple of beers of interest to many of you.

  • The remains of our single keg of Brewaucracy Bean Counter, the vanilla bean infused porter that was released at the Pacific Beer Expo, are on tap right now.
  • A single 20L keg of the second batch of Brewaucracy Punkin Image Limited is in our clutches. We thought of getting it out for Halloween, but have been advised that the fourth Thursday of November will be a more fitting occasion for it.

Greig McGill of Brewaucracy assures us that it was never his intention to create a brewery dedicated to spiced beers and that something far more experimental and less spicy is on its way.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

October 27, 2011

El Día de los Muertos... Wine... Pacific Beer Expo T Shirts...

El Día de los Muertos

Believe it or not, this will be the 19th beer in Garage Project's 24/24 exercise. This time it's a Chilli Chocolate black lager. Or to quote the flyer many of you found in your festival glasses at the Pacific Beer Expo:

brewed with smoked chipotle chili, refermented with organic blue agave syrup (the basis of Tequila) and conditioned over raw cocoa nibs - rich and dark, Day of the Dead is smooth and drinkable with a complex mix of smoke, chocolate and restrained chili heat.

For those wondering, the Mexican Day of the Dead - which some of us may know as the day after Halloween, and others will know as All Saints Day - coincides conveniently with next Tuesday's release.

Beer #18 - also People's Project #2 - has succeeded in dividing people this week, to the extent that it has moved relatively slowly. It seems that the unroasted coffee beans impart flavours and aromas that some find unpleasant. To some of us the beer is simply a Saison with a hard-to-pin-down additional character. It certainly has been baffling drinkers since Tuesday and may continue to baffle us for a day or two longer. We consider this a bonus.


Talk of wine at Hashigo Zake is normally drowned out by beer talk. Arguably this is just desserts considering the dismissive treatment beer often receives from many quarters with an interest in promoting wine. But we like to be above petty jealousy since sneering at beer is usually done by those who don't really understand what they're drinking themselves, let alone what others might be drinking. It is our aim to give wine far more respect at Hashigo Zake than beer typically gets in wine bars.

To this end we have had a dedicated and semi-independent wine consultant working on our wine list for several months. It's time we passed on some notes from her:

Over last few months, we’ve had a focus on subtly changing our small but perfectly formed wine list of 17 hand-picked NZ wines.

  • We now focus on the smaller NZ wineries, largely family or independently owned.
  • We use the various wine competitions to select the best quality wines (mostly Gold Award wines) at reasonable price points.
  • We care for the majority of our wines, by using an Enomatic inert gas preservation system. “The flavours and characteristics of the wine remain intact for more than three weeks, as if the bottle had just been opened” say Enomatic. We wouldn’t know – our bottles are very rarely around that long.
  • The winter months have seen a focus on warm reds from Otago, Marlborough and Hawkes Bay. That doesn’t mean the whites have suffered, and we have added Kumeu Village Chardonnay and Forrest The Doctors Riesling onto our list recently.
  • We use table talkers in the bar, and the daily menu to keep you up to date with the changing wines.

If anyone has feedback or comments about the wine offering at Hashigo Zake, please contact as we are always looking at ways to improve your enjoyment – and would love to hear from the wine drinkers amongst you.

Pacific Beer Expo T-Shirts

The kegs have been dropped off, tapped and taken away again, the beer brats and curry have been consumed and the venue has been returned to its owners. We'll probably spend weeks picking over the bones of this one, but the important thing for now is to thank the participants and volunteers who came along and took part in a thoroughly enjoyable and colourful event over Labour weekend.

Having said that there is another important duty - many of you wanted event t-shirts but your sizes had run out. Sean Golding's design came out remarkably well and it is tempting to keep supply short, let the black market turn it into a collectors item and watch the price go through the roof. But instead we'll get the supplier to run off some extra prints and keep everyone happy. So could anyone who would like one, please submit an order by Monday by replying to this email? The price will be $35.

Unlike the shirts, we did oversupply ourselves with festival glasses, so extras can be bought here at Hashigo Zake at the absurd price of just $5.

We've also had at least one request to post some of the photos taken over the weekend. So here is everyone's chance to relive the thrills, beers, sunshine and, ahem, the beards of the Pacific Beer Expo 2011: Thanks to photographers Steve Cossaboom, Dylan Jauslin and whoever else grabbed the camera and went nuts over the weekend.

Naturally we made sure that there was more than enough beer to go around on Saturday and Sunday, meaning that there are an awful lot of unfinished kegs crowding our storage facilities. These will all turn up on our taps over the next week or so, making the Pacific Beer Expo the festival that keeps on festering. We can look forward to second helpings of local rarities such as Brewaucracy Bean Counter, Liberty C!tra, Renaissance Tribute Barley Wine and maybe even 8 Wired Double Brown. From the rest of the Pacific there may also be the last of the last keg of Coronado Saison by the Sea, a little of the only keg of Baird West Coast Wheat Wine and some of the two incarnations of Feral Hop Hog ("regular" and barrel-fermented).