Thursday, January 26, 2012

January 26, 2012

Subscriptions... Waitangi Bowl... Upcoming Releases... Our First Dinner of 2012... On Tap Soon...


In the last few weeks we've had a flurry of new subscriptions to this email, and we warmly welcome those people.

A few people seem to have ended up in the purgatory that is having a "pending subscription" - they've signed up but not responded to the confirmation email that our service provider insists on to distinguish us from the spammers. If you suspect that someone you know intended signing up for this email but somehow still doesn't seem to be au fait with its contents each week, please suggest they check their email (or spam folder) for the confirmation email.

Waitangi Bowl

As mentioned previously, the NFL have contrived to schedule the 2012 Super Bowl (aka Super Bowl XLVI) for Waitangi Day, New Zealand time, meaning those who aren't taking part in or observing acts of protest, reconciliation or commemoration can spend their holiday watching the Super Bowl in glorious high definition.

To make the whole prospect even more appetising, we'll start late the night before and prepare not one but two big rich chillies. One will be a relatively conventional American one, with beef, kidney beans, and an authentic cocktail of hot and aromatic spices. The other will be a New Zealand reinterpretation, with lamb, manuka smoked chipotles and any another fitting, locally raised agricultural product we stumble over.

We understand that kick-off in this quaint event will be at 12:30pm.

This time of year is also when another sporting event that should excite us happens to come around. Unfortunately as much as we love the sporting spectacle that is the Wellington 7s, the event's effect on Hashigo Zake as a business are modest. So please join us in treating February 3 and 4 as business as usual.

Upcoming Releases

Judging by what was popular in our recent customer survey, the next two new releases should create some excitement. First up, next Tuesday, is the newest beer from the new local heroes ParrotDog. It's a golden ale made with "English malts and an array of aromatic hops". And predictably it's going to be known as FlaxenFeather.

It's possible that we'll come to an arrangement with the Matts that will let us be somewhat over-generous with samples of this beer. It's also possible that the lads will want to let some other news about their plans slip out during the evening.

A week later, on February 7, we have a new release from brewer of the year (tied with 8 Wired) - Liberty. It's an American Red Ale, made with a complex mix of grains and a tasty blend of US and New Zealand hops. And it will be known as Yakima Scarlet.

Joe has plans for this to become a regular beer but for the time being there will be very limited supplies of Yakima Scarlet.

Our First Dinner Of 2012

Among the highlights of last year for us was a series of dinners, matched with beers, staged by our resident occasional chefs, Shiggy and Sam. Shiggy has put his hand up to begin a new series of similar events in 2012, with a dinner of five dishes from different Asian cuisines on February 12. This is a Sunday, which is a departure from our practice of the last couple of years. We hope it's convenient for plenty of you - feedback is welcome.

The size of our kitchen means that places have to be strictly limited. We're taking bookings here.

On Tap Soon

As always there are treats in store for anyone coming down over the next few days. Look out for:

  • Golden Eagle Coalface Stout.
  • Yeastie Boys Digital IPA.
  • Invercargill Boysenbeery.
  • Renaissance Tribute Barley Wine.
  • .. and finally, if everything else is consumed... Hallertau Beastwars IPA - our second instalment of the hottest new New Zealand IPA.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

January 19, 2012

A Tie Is Not A Draw... The Results... The Great Kiwi Beer Festival... Bar-top Casks... Upcoming New Release Tuesdays... Anniversary Weekend... Waitangibowl...

A Tie Is Not A Draw

Cricket lovers will understand this distinction. A draw merely indicates an inability to arrive at a result, be it due to unfavourable conditions or an act of defiance by one side, and is only occasionally something to get excited about. A tie on the other hand says that after an extended contest in which the advantage may have changed hands many times and many contests-within-a-contest have had their own outcomes, the contestants really did arrive at the same score and to contrive some means of breaking the tie is to create an injustice. Ties are results to marvel at.

Now the results of this month's survey of what you, our customers, thought were the best beers and breweries of 2011 produced no fewer than two ties. Hashigo Zake officials could have surreptitiously created a new survey rule to find a winner or made a sneaky casting vote, but this would prove less than to reveal the naked truth to the waiting public: these two really are no better than each other equally great.

The Results

One of our ties came in probably the most important question: "What Was Your Favourite New Zealand Brewery of 2011?" If bets were being taken on a winner then 8 Wired would surely have been favourite. The Blenheim based contract brewery has enjoyed success after success since first releasing Rewired back in late 2009, including winning the top award at the 2011 BrewNZ Awards.

Meanwhile New Plymouth's Liberty has been making a similarly profound impression on drinkers since Joseph Wood told us in late 2010 that he was turning part of his home into a Customs Controlled Area so he could sell the output of the home brewery he had assembled. He wanted to sell beer to us in cornelius kegs (normally used for soft drinks and home brew) and encouraged us to adapt our systems to work with them.

We went along with Joe's suggestions and have been glad we did ever since. (Apart from one or two times when the plastic cornie connectors played up.) And what Liberty beer doesn't get consumed here at Hashigo Zake we now proudly distribute around the North Island.

We tipped off both 8 Wired's Søren and Liberty's Joe that they were doing well in our little survey and they were both pleased and gracious. Søren related this win to his triumph at BrewNZ last year, singling out the "kudos of customers and fellow beer geeks" as being closer to heart. Joe said he was "chuffed" that his decision to build his own brewery is working out, but added: "On the other hand - I am not suprised. The whole reason that I started brewing in the first place was so that I could brew beer that you can't normally buy."

The full results await your scrutiny at Our press release is there too -

The Great Kiwi Beer Festival

As mentioned last week, February the 25th is when Christchurch gets to host what might be the country's biggest beer festival. Their website went live a few days ago and the astute would have seen Hashigo Zake's name mentioned.

Now we share our range of imports with bars, bottle stores and supermarkets in places like Auckland, Hamilton, Greenmeadows, Palmerston North and Dunedin, but not, as yet, Christchurch. So at the Great Kiwi Beer Festival we're taking down some of our finest Californian, Norwegian and Danish beer, along with some from Malz & Hopfen's stable of German beer, and giving Christchurch a taste of what our regular customers get to choose from every week.

We encourage readers to encourage their Christchurch friends and family to support this event.

Bar-top Casks

Garage Project continue to make up for volume with variety. A couple of times recently they've surprised us by appearing with 20L casks of fresh, low-gravity real ale, ready to be tapped and poured straight from the plastic barrel. This time we've decided to hold one of these casks back a few days so we can at least tell you all about it.

So late tomorrow afternoon we'll be hoisting the second and last barrel of Left Field Best, an ordinary bitter (subtitled Out Of The Ordinary), onto the bar and filling glasses gravitarily.

Upcoming New Release Tuesdays

The hardest part of our new institution - New Release Tuesday - is squeezing all the upcoming releases in. We're already often releasing two beers on the same night.

Next Tuesday will be another double header. We've been holding back what is probably the only keg of Norwegian Pilsner in New Zealand. And Garage Project have decided that their collaboration with Norway's Nøgne Ø is ready. That beer, whose name is being changed due to a clash, is a strong rye pale ale with added pohutakawa honey. So both of those beers will be coming on at 5pm next Tuesday.

The schedule after that is crowded and not yet finalised. Liberty's Yakima Scarlet, a red IPA, will be with us in a week or so. As will ParrotDog's new blonde ale. Stay tuned.

Anniversary Weekend

Monday is a holiday for Wellingtonians, but as usual we'll be making no change to our opening hours and we won't be applying public holiday surcharges. In fact since it's a Monday our discount to SOBA members will apply.


Over the last couple of years we've enjoyed coaxing a few people down on a Monday afternoon to watch the Superbowl while eating and drinking something suitably American. This year the NFL have contrived to schedule the event on Waitangi Day. This may necessitate adding some kind of unlikely Kiwi adjunct to some quintessentially American dish. The imagination of our staff is being taxed right now.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

January 12, 2012

Slow News Week

We don't have as much of our own news as usual this week, so here are a couple of pieces of other people's news that we happen to have an interest in, relating to beer festivals.

On Saturday February 25th - only six weeks or so away - a new beer festival kicks off in Christchurch. It's called the Great Kiwi Beer Festival and the organisers are ambitious. The venue is Hagley Park and there will be room for up to 8000 participants and we understand that a lot of tickets were sold before Christmas. The format creates plenty of room for corporate brewers, craft brewers and imports. In fact we're talking to the organisers about bringing a swag of our favourite imports from around the world and setting up a temporary Hashigo Zake within the larger festival. The full event website should go live any day at

Meanwhile another festival that could be even more ambitious is being planned for Melbourne in May. It will be the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular and is a venture of the extraordinary Local Taphouse in St Kilda. It will feature 60 beers from Australia and New Zealand, all brewed specially for the event. Again we have a little inside knowledge of this event and have reason to believe it will be pretty special. And again the event's website is still in development but the odd piece of news is being posted on the Taphouse's blog at

Two Appeals Repeated

Once again we invite customers to join us in supporting the completion of the Beer Hunter film, a documentary following two years late in the life of the great Michael Jackson. An appeal has gone out to raise funds to finish production and we'll match every dollar that anyone puts in the can behind the bar, make a consolidated donation and hopefully earn the right to host an early screening of the finished film.

Last week we launched our second (and therefore now annual) survey of what our customers think were the best beers, breweries and pies of 2011. In a short time we've matched the number of submissions we got twelve months ago, which is extremely encouraging. Some of the categories are foregone conclusions but other are producing neck and neck contests, and someone voting soon will end up making the casting vote. You can join in the fun at

We'll keep accepting responses for a few more days, then our outsourced survey analysis service will be engaged and promises to deliver preliminary results by this time next week.

Turning The Clock Back

After a couple of relatively quiet New Release Tuesdays during the Christmas and New Year period, on Tuesday of this week it felt like late 2011 all over again. A new Garage Project beer was on (L'il Red Rye, along with Ballast Point Even Keel) and many of Wellington's elite beer nerds were in attendance. You know who you are.

So we've another intriguing new release lined up for next Tuesday. It's another one fresh of the boat from San Diego's Ballast Point. Called Schooner, it's a wet hop ale - a beer made using un-kilned, fresh-off-the-vine cascade hops from the recent US crop.

It will come on tap at 5pm on Tuesday.

Other Goodies

Some other treats to look out for over the next few days and nights:

  • Yeastie Boys PKB back on tap.
  • Another keg of 8 Wired's Haywired. Wheat beers that aren't specifically modelled on a German Weissbier or a Belgian Witbier usually struggle to make an impression. But we were impressed that this beer manages to be recognisably wheaty and a hoppy pale ale at the same time.
  • Adlib Mashup - we've had Epic's and Liberty's versions of the open source New Zealand Pale Ale, now comes one from Christchurch.
  • Liberty West Coast Blonde - Pacific Jade. Our allocation of the Pacific Jade edition of Liberty's West Coast Blonde should make it here before the weekend. Or maybe we'll pop a keg of the Simcoe version on instead. Or maybe both.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January 5, 2012

Funding The Beer Hunter... New Release Tuesday Double Header... Our Best of 2011 Survey... Another Intersection of Beer and Rock 'n Roll...

Funding The Beer Hunter

We've been following progress of the film The Beer Hunter for a while now. When it's finished the documentary will be a record of a period in the life of the late, great Michael Jackson. For those who haven't heard of him, Jackson was the world's foremost beer and whisky writer and probably did more to inspire the current boom in craft brewing than anyone else. The film will also raise funds for research into Parkinson's, the disease that killed Jackson in 2007.

A few days ago the producers announced a campaign to stitch together funding to help get the project finished using the Kickstarter website. Basically they're asking for donations but there are perks for those who donate enough, including copies of the finished product in DVD form and even the right to host a premiere. So we think if we pool our resources with enough of our customers' we can make a significant contribution and get to host some kind of screening here in our lounge to boot.

So we'll take donations here at the bar and for every dollar collected Hashigo Zake will donate another dollar. We'll take contributions until January 25. If all goes well we'll get to show the resulting film in some form later in the year.

New Release Tuesday Double Header

First of all we must apologise to anyone who expected Mikkeller 1000IBU to be this week's new release. The reasons we deferred this beer and put Ballast Point Dorado IIPA on instead are a little convoluted and we promise that 1000IBU will be on tap at a future date. We're confident that Dorado was an adequate substitute - it could certainly compete with 1000IBU for general hoppiness. And any self-respecting hop head should be excited to hear that there is some left at the time of writing.

Next Tuesday we're releasing not one but two new beers. And for a little while it might just feel like late 2011 because one of them will be from Garage Project.

That Garage Project beer will be L'il Red Rye. It's described as "a nice little red ale, made with Chinook and Summit hops, caramel, Munich and melanoidin malts and a good dose of rye."

The other beer will be another seasonal from Ballast Point - Even Keel Session Beer. No-one here has tried it before but we know that it's a rare thing for an American craft brewery - a session beer with less than 4% alcohol by volume.

Both beers will come on at 5pm on Tuesday.

Our Best of 2011 Survey

Since well before the end of last year critics have been piling in with their lists of best this and best that. With new beers going on tap here right up until the end of the year we chose to wait until 2012 to start speculating on what was best about 2011. And as tempting as it for Hashigo Zake management to overrule the opinions of those critics by publishing our own answers, we're content to collect and aggregate the answers of our customers.

Which is all a roundabout way of saying our annual survey is open and taking answers. Have your say here.

We like to think that the continual, collective sampling performed by our customers constitutes the most considered and thorough beer judging performed in New Zealand. So when we collate the survey results we'll have what we think are the truest indicators of what was good in New Zealand in 2011.

Having said that, please understand that the questions are built around the range of products that we've served here in 2011, and tap beer products in particular. There are occasional chances to offer answers outside of our suggestions, but if your drinking experiences in 2011 were too different from ours then you might just find it frustrating.

Another Intersection Of Beer and Rock 'n Roll

A few months ago Stephen Plowman at Hallertau in West Auckland launched a beer to coincide with a tour by Wellington metal band Beastwars. Bottles of that beer - Beastwars IPA - sold out everywhere in absurdly quick fashion. (We never saw any.) But it has been re-brewed and any day we will join Auckland outlets like Hallertau and Golden Dawn in having this Auckland homage to Wellington music on tap.