Thursday, April 26, 2012

April 26, 2012

New Release Tuesday - Shunters' Yard... Brewjolais™... X-Ale'd... On Tap Soon... Other People's News... A Couple of Farewells...

New Release Tuesday - Shunters' Yard

Shunters' Yard is a nano-brewery in Hamilton. We're told that the brewing equipment is fashioned from leftover dairy equipment by the brewers themselves, Dave and Pete. It also happens to be the home away from home used by Brewaucracy and 666 to brew their beers.

To the best of our knowledge Shunters' Yard's own beer hasn't made it this far south before, so it's an honour to give them a Wellington debut. So next week's Tuesday New Release will be two beers from Shunters' Yard: No. 7 Pilsner and Shunters Ale. They'll be on tap on from 5pm.

To learn more about the brewery go to

This marks the beginning of a run of new local breweries and brewing companies in the Tuesday New Release slot. Shunters' Yard will be followed by the first releases of two new New Zealand brewing companies.


Brewjolais is actually a trademark held by Lion but since they seem to have stopped using it there seems no reason not to dust it off ourselves. So we're declaring May 4 2012 Brewjolais Nouveau Day and putting all the wet hopped beers we can find on tap at once.

It's almost certain that this is the first time that this many commercial wet-hopped beers have been brewed in the same year in New Zealand. At the moment the lineup of breweries is looking like:

  • Garage Project
  • Townshend (Last of the Summer Ale)
  • Sprig and Fern (Harvest Pilsner)
  • Tuatara
  • 8 Wired (Fresh Hopwired)
  • Golden Bear

There's a question mark over the Garage Project beer at least, so please accept our apologies in advance if sightly fewer than six beers make it. And thanks to Søren Erikson for suggesting this micro festival.

(Of course May 4th is also Star Wars Day, but there's no obligation to come down in costume, except for one or two that we really expect it of. And for anyone wondering about the jargon, "wet-hopped"/"green-hopped" beers are made using hops fresh from the vine that haven't been kilned or pelletised. They can only be brewed within a few hours of the hops being picked.)


At the risk of sounding smug, we were pretty pleased with how X-Ale went on Saturday. As well as putting some pretty amazing and interesting beer out in front of everyone, we were just as experimental in the way the festival was run, from the way we allocated tastings and offered a buffet to the location. Enough of these experiments came off to justify doing it all over again. Although in a year's time the ParrotDog brewery won't be nearly so empty so the search for a new venue starts now.

Now very few of the kegs tapped on Saturday were emptied, so don't be surprised when some of those beers appear on tap here at Hashigo Zake over the coming days and weeks. Fortunately most of the beers are robust to the point of being nearly bullet-proof, so being tapped, partially consumed then re-tapped a little while later should have little if any effect.

On Tap Soon

As mentioned above, there are some pretty interesting X-Ale leftovers making it on tap at the moment. But in addition to those and our usual smattering of interesting imports from our own stocks there's one beer coming that should raise the heart rates of at least a few readers. Yes winter's coming, and so is Three Boys Oyster Stout.

We'll also have not one, but two beers that are the results of collaborations between Graham Mahy (666) and Martin Townshend (Townshend). One is Sutton Hoo which should be well known to many but which we haven't had for a while. The other is the brand new Scissor Jacks, described by Martin as an "India Pale Lager", not because it resembles, ahem.. Kingfisher, but because according to Martin it's an IPA fermented as a lager.

Look out too for our last keg (and quite possibly the last keg) of last year's Four Horsemen of the Hopocalypse, last year's valiant attempt by Luke Nicholas, Kelly Ryan, Stephen Plowman and Joseph Wood to create a beer that was too hoppy.

Other People's News

Garage Project

Garage Project's transformation from nano-brewery to micro-brewery is agonisingly close to completion. Who'd have thought that a concrete floor was something to be excited by? But the floor they've laid on the Aro St property is a thing of beauty, with a raised outside edge, a gentle slope and drainage everywhere it needs to be.

The brand new stainless steel brewing equipment has been delivered and most of the installation done, with more services being connected to it by the day. Commissioning is not far off. Brewer Pete Gillespie says the quality of the gear is as every bit as good as they hoped for. The beginnings of a customer area are visible too. "Exciting" seems the only word that does the whole process justice.

The New Old

There was a watershed in the history of New Zealand broadcast television a couple of weeks ago. A programme was screened about New Zealand craft beer that was responsible, took its subject seriously (but not too seriously) and contained no sniggering. While the programme wasn't perfect, brewers Ian Ramsay (Galbraith's) and Paul Croucher (err... Croucher) did a great job and were actually given freedom to express themselves. After coverage by certain journalists in the past that was simply embarrassing, episode one of The New Old on TVNZ7 was a breath of fresh air.

What a pity that the channel that screened the programme is scheduled to be demolished to make way for an interstellar bypass. Surely only a fundamentalist libertarian would think the elimination of public broadcasting such as this was a good idea.

The programme in question can be viewed on demand here.

A Couple of Farewells

This weekend two regular customers and Pacific Beer Expo volunteers both happen to be having their final HZ sessions before heading overseas. We wish Hamil and Reiji well.

Friday, April 20, 2012

April 19, 2012

X-Ale... Speaking of Festivals... Hop Craic... On Tap Soon... Stop Press...


There are just two days until the event we considered calling "The Incredibly Strange Beer Festival". We haven't said too much about what's on offer although a couple of brewers have tweeted some hints. So since the cat's out of the bag, here are a couple more of the beers we'll be serving:

  • Liberty Summ!it Imperial IPA - the beer that was for at least a few of us, THE beer of 2010. The seminal Liberty IIPA before C!tra came along.
  • 8 Wired Mighty Imperial Ale an Ice-distilled Barley Wine - a beer so rare Søren had forgotten he had it. It was brewed a year ago in honour of the brewer's new-born daughter, then a portion was frozen to allow water to be removed and concentrate the remaining beer. It's been tested and comes out at 25% ABV. Now there is only a small volume of this beer, so unlike the other beers entry doesn't guarantee a sample of it. Instead it will go on sale late in the day for those whose palates have lasted the distance.

Already announced:

  • Hallertau Funkonnay - a sour ale aged in Chardonnay barrels.
  • Nøgne Ø Aku Aku Lemongrass Ale.
  • Mikkeller 1000 IBU Light - all the bitterness of 1000 IBU but only half the body to balance it.
  • Green Flash Le Freak - one of the most famous "Belgian IPAs" ever made, applying a Belgian yeast to an aggressively hopped, 9.3% IPA.
  • Mikkeller / 3 Floyds Boogoop - the latest in their collaborative series of Barley Wines made with alternative grains, this time buckwheat.

That leaves seven more. That list includes at least three more sours, two smoked beers, one spiced and the obligatory imperial stout. But not just any imperial stout.

The event is three quarters sold out, so we expect a healthy turnout to fill the space where ParrotDog's shiny new brewery will sit in a few weeks. If you'd like to join in, come along and buy a ticket at the bar or get on to

Speaking of Festivals

The festival scene is evolving quickly. This seems a fitting time to mention the ones that are on our radar and that we expect to have some involvement with:

  • The Great Australian Beer Spectapular and Good Beer Week - Melbourne, May 11-19.
  • SOBA Winter Ale Festival. We're not sure of the date but we understand that the SOBA politburo are planning to stage this again in mid to late June at Wellington's Boatshed.
  • Beervana and Choice Beer Week. The New Zealand Brewers Guild Awards are judged in the week starting August 13, with the Awards Ceremony on August 16 and Beervana on the 17th and 18th. We understand that the Brewers Guild are re-branding this period of awards and Beervana as "Choice Beer Week" and we promise that there will be no shortage of peripheral events that week, in case anyone is considering taking time off to get involved.
  • The Pacific Beer Expo. Yes our own showcase of beer from the Pacific Rim will be back at Wellington's Boatshed on the Saturday and Sunday of Labour Weekend (October 20, 21).

Hop Craic

Next Tuesday's New Release is Hop Craic XXXX IPA, an absurdly resiny, hoppy Imperial IPA from Moylan's. We actually tapped this keg last week to get samples for our "New from California" tasting. On that night it came out on top in our poll for best beer of the night. It's reminiscent of Moylan's own Hopsickle but somehow even hoppier.

As usual, our Tuesday release will be on tap at 5pm.

On Tap Soon

Just because X-Ale is taking all the most extreme beer in our stock that doesn't mean we don't have variety and quality in bulk here at 25 Taranaki St. For instance:

  • Two old favourites from the reborn Twisted Hop are back - Golding and Twisted Ankle.
  • Ballast Point Big Eye. Need we say more? Maybe just that its stable-mate Sculpin happens to be on tap right now.
  • Sprig and Fern 3 Berry Cider on tap. Even though it has a dedicated outlet across town we like to get our own fix of this now and then. Also expect one or two others from the S&F range.
  • Nøgne Ø God Jul - is it cold enough yet to drink a Scandinavian Christmas beer?

Stop Press

A keg from the first ever batch of Fresh Hopwired - Hopwired made with unkilned hops from this year's harvest - just arrived and will be on tap as soon as a place becomes free - probably in the next couple of hours!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April 12, 2012

X-Ale... Old Scratch... Avarice... The Americans Are Here... Baird Seasonals...


New Zealand's newest and least predictable beer festival is just over a week away. Ten years from now those who had the foresight and the sense of adventure to come to the first ever X-Ale festival will be admired and respected. That's if their taste buds have recovered.

The small (for a festival) but spectacular lineup will cover smoked, spiced, barrel-aged, sour, ludicrously strong, incredibly hoppy and absurdly strong AND hoppy beers. And your ticket entitles you - obliges you even - to try all of them.

The date is Saturday April 21, from 1pm and places can be booked here or at the bar. There is only one session and we only have 20 litres of some of the beers, so seats on this flavour roller coaster are strictly limited.

The cost of joining in the fun is exactly $50. For this you not only get your first 13 samples of beer, you also have access to a buffet of beer-friendly snacks like strong cheeses and chewy small goods to soak up the beer and compete with the extreme flavours.

Old Scratch

This Friday happens to be the 13th. This wouldn't normally raise an eyebrow with us, but there was also a Friday the 13th in January. On that day Garage Project brewed an English Barley Wine. A week's fermentation and thirteen weeks' conditioning end this Friday at which time this barley wine goes on tap. It's called Old Scratch, being a reference to Dominion Breweries the devil.

Old Scratch was brewed with Pale, Amber, Crystal and black malts and weighs in at 8.2% abv, with just enough English Admiral and Challenger hops to balance the hefty grain bill.

It goes on tap at 5pm on Friday and we have two cornie kegs. As quickly as Garage Project beers usually go, we expect the strength of this one to act as a brake and help it last at least a few hours.

Another Garage Project beer gets released at GABS next month and the guys have produced this rather slick and splendid video to ensure maximum anticipation as we head to Melbourne.


We like to think that every beer that gets showcased in our "New Release Tuesday" slot is pretty special, but it's easy to make the case for next week's. Any beer from 666 Brewing is rare anyway, at least until Graham Mahy gets his own brewery. But to the best of our knowledge no-one outside the Mahy household has tasted Avarice Imperial IPA for about three years.

The taste a few of us had back then is a distant but happy memory now - of an extravagant yet beautifully balanced hop-bomb.

666 Avarice will be poured from the tap with the extra long 666 tap handle from 5pm on Tuesday. We have one 50L keg only, and one other keg will be available at a certain other Wellington outlet a little while later.

The Americans Are Here

We don't want to cause civil unrest, but once again we've facilitated an infiltration of sorts by some of the better Americans that we know. Now it actually takes time to turn a container-load of beer into bottles on shelves complete with regulatory standard-drinks labels. Nevertheless the next day or two will see a return to our fridges of a number of sorely missed Green Flash, Moylan's, and Bear Republic beers, plus the products of Left Coast, a new brewery to us.

A few of Wellington's more astute beer aficionados joined us last night for a preview of the Left Coast beers, some new Moylan's beers and Green Flash's Rayon Vert. There were some striking beers, not least of which was Rayon Vert, Green Flash's "brett-beer" - bottle conditioned using brettanomyces, to produce a beautifully balanced, slightly sour, Belgian ale.

Left Coast's beers were consistently good and come in some of the best packaging we've ever seen. Hop Juice Imperial IPA and Voodoo Stout would be worth buying just to admire the beautiful screen printed labels. Fortunately we can recommend the content of the bottles too.

The winner on the night was deemed to be Moylan's Hop Craic. This is a ludicrously hoppy, resiny Imperial IPA that's similar to Moylan's Hopsickle, but is somehow even hoppier. It's available on tap only and will make its official debut in the New Release Tuesday slot on April 24.

Baird Seasonals

As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we recently took delivery of an order of fresh beer from Japan's Baird Brewery. It turns out that two of the seasonals that came in that shipment were released in Japan today. Here's the blurb on them from Baird themselves:

Four Sisters Spring Bock 2012 (ABV 7.5%)

Baird Four Sisters Spring Bock is brewed in the spirit of a German Maibock, albeit one of the type that was brewed centuries ago in the city of Einbeck and that was noted for its generous use of malted wheat. Four Sisters Spring Bock sports a deep copper-gold color and enjoys a sweet floral nose from aroma additions of German Hersbrucker hops. In the mouth, a rich malty character will introduce itself before quickly giving way to an extremely smooth, round finish in which a hint of honeyed-malt flavor and warm alcohol character lingers.

Pacific Century Citrus IPA 2012 (ABV 7.5%)

We have brewed this unique IPA annually for the past several years, each time combining a different local citrus fruit with a changing blend of hop varieties. This year we chose aoshima mikans as the citrus fruit and combined them with the following blend of hops: Magnum, Nelson Sauvin, Cascade, Santiam and Ahtanum. The result is a deeply complex IPA that enjoys a nuanced and layered citrus-fruit character.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April 4, 2012


After much planning - well, a little planning over a long period - we have a confirmed venue, a fearsome lineup of beers and an even chance of being granted a liquor licence. So it's time to announce New Zealand's newest and most rock-n-roll beer festival ever:
Don't be fooled by the short notice - there have been months of planning and venue scouting for X-Ale, and we can finally confirm that the venue will be 29 Vivian St, the site of the ParrotDog Brewery. We say the site of the ParrotDog brewery because brewing and fermentation equipment are still weeks away and it's highly questionable whether a working brewery is anywhere to hold a piss-up.

The lineup is a collection of the fruitiest, riskiest, biggest, bitterest, sourest and strangest beers that have been made available to us over the last year. Here are a few examples:

  • Hallertau Funkonnay - a sour ale aged in Chardonnay barrels.
  • Nøgne Ø Aku Aku Lemongrass Ale.
  • Mikkeller 1000 IBU Light - all the bitterness of 1000 IBU but only half the body to balance it.
  • Green Flash Le Freak - one of the most famous "Belgian IPAs" ever made, applying a Belgian yeast to an aggressively hopped, 9.3% IPA.
  • Mikkeller / 3 Floyds Boggoop - the latest in their collaborative series of Barley Wines made with alternative grains, this time buckwheat.

This is just five from the lineup of 13 starting beers plus one mind-boggling finishing beer for anyone who makes it through the first 13.

The date is Saturday April 21, from 1pm and places can be booked here or at the bar. There is only one session and we only have 20 litres of some of the beers, so seats on this flavour roller coaster are strictly limited.

The cost of joining in the fun is exactly $50. For this you not only get your first 13 samples of beer, you also have access to a buffet of beer-friendly snacks like strong cheeses and chewy small goods to soak up the beer and compete with the extreme flavours.


The Great Australasian Beer Spectapular is another bold and exciting new beer festival, happening in Melbourne a few weeks after our own X-Ale, on May 11-13. GABS's organisers, St Kilda's Local Taphouse, have asked 43 Australian and 17 New Zealand breweries to submit completely new beers for the event. It's hard to think of another circumstance when so much new beer is available in such a short time. Except perhaps a typical week at Hashigo Zake.

Now it's well known that at a lot of big beer festivals working is more fun than actually paying to attend. GABS should be no exception as they'll be relying on volunteer labour to succeed. And a big chunk of the workforce at GABS is going to be made up of Wellingtonians. Steph Coutts - well known in Wellington for her work at festivals such as Beervana and the Pacific Beer Expo - will be in charge of GABS' volunteers and even some of Hashigo Zake's ruling elite are going to make the trip over and observe GABS from the inside, before crossing to the customer side of the bar for the later sessions.

So we endorse GABS as a great way to spend a long weekend in Melbourne and recommend volunteering as an even better way to experience the whole thing. As well as the job satisfaction they get, GABS volunteers are pretty well looked after in terms of perks. Full details and a chance to sign up are at Anyone still dithering can pose questions to

Easter Beer

As always we have a juicy combination of established favourites and new offerings waiting for you this weekend. Look out for:

  • Coronado Islander - the San Diego IPA that many think outshines the bigger names that come out of this brewing centre.
  • Townshend King Tide - another experiment in higher than usual hopping rates from Nelson's Martin Townshend
  • For the first time since the visit by the brewer last November, it's Nøgne Ø Double Hop IPA.
  • A fresh batch of Croucher's Galaxy IPA.
  • Some time in the next few days, look out for a keg of what else but.. Galbraith's Resurrection. It's actually the last keg from an old batch that we're confident will have aged beautifully. In the near future we'll have some of the latest batch - in kegs filled by none other than our own Shiggy, who has been on loan to Galbraith's for a few days.

Next New Release Tuesday

It's another Mikkeller Double Header next week, with two more from the Single Hop IPA Series. But this time, one of them will be Sorachi Ace, the head-scratching, Sapporo-developed hop that has a tendency to dominate any beer it is present in, for better or worse.

Alongside it will be the Bravo single hop IPA, with Bravo being another American bittering hop with very similar origins to Apollo (featured this week).

These two beers go on tap at 5pm on Tuesday.

Easter Trading Hours

Easter is a strange time for us, being our closiest time of the year. Of the three and a half days when we're legally obliged to stay closed over the course of a year, two are this weekend. Those days are the Friday and Sunday of Easter. That means we have to cease all hospitality at midnight (effectively 11:30pm) on Thursday night and then do the same again on Saturday night. But we will be open and surcharge-free on Saturday and Monday.

6000 Pies

This evening some lucky diner will be chomping on the SIX THOUSANDTH PIE to come out of our faithful Pietomiton 100®. Not bad for a dish that was a last minute idea for dealing with the leftovers of our daily meals. Congratulations to us. We're so excited we may even give Dave Wood a small discount on his birthday pie!