Thursday, October 25, 2012

October 25, 2012

La Calavera Catrina... Pacific Beer Expo Credits... N-N-Nineteen... The Return of Adam Page... US Presidential Election... Growler Howler, the Epilogue...

La Calavera Catrina

Plenty of us have vivid memories of last year's pilot batch of Day of the Dead - the chocolate, chilli and agave infused dark lager, launched on 1/11/11, the Día de los Muertos. Many considered it the most successful of Garage Project's 24/24 programme.

Earlier this year it was followed up by Double Day of the Dead, brewed largely for Melbourne's Great Australasian Beer Spectapular in May. But some of that beer made its way to the local market and a little more made its way into bourbon barrels. Indeed we got a foretaste of the barrel-aged version at the Pacific Beer Expo.

Now it would be pretty exciting if all three of those variants on the Day of the Dead beer were available at one place and time. And they will - here, next Thursday, November 1. But Garage Project's brains trust aren't satisfied with that and have come up with a small batch of a completely new beer to commemorate 2012's Día de los Muertos. It's La Calavera Catrina - a maize lager brewed with organic smoked habanero and conditioned with rosewater and watermelon. The result is a spicy complex blonde lager. The artwork alone has been a major project, suggesting that Garage Project see a big future for La Calavera Catrina. But only a handful of people will get to tell their grandchildren that they were there when it was launched, at Hashigo Zake on Friday November 2.

(Reading up the historical and cultural meaning of La Calavera Catrina is left as an exercise for the reader.)

Pacific Beer Expo Credits

Many readers of this email will have attended the Pacific Beer Expo on Saturday or Sunday. Rather than tell you how successful it may or may not have been, we'd like to take time to acknowledge a pretty extensive list of people who made the whole thing work.

Craft Beer College's Steph Coutts and Jonny Day made sure we had a team of knowledgeable and dedicated volunteers. Again, this isn't the first time they've provided this service at a festival and do it so well that they're in danger of being taken for granted, which would be a travesty. They cobble together for us a team of volunteers who turn up so motivated that even after a long shift they seem convinced they've enjoyed themselves. It's hardly fair. So we thank Steph, Jonny and their magnificent team.

With little or no prompting some of New Zealand's best brewers changed their brewing schedules to let us have new or special releases that complemented the festival's imported beers perfectly. We were extremely lucky.

After putting ourselves through the stress of running our own catering operation last year, we took the smart option this year and engaged Sarah Searancke Catering. Their food, we think, was of a quality that completely vindicated the move.

And the Boatshed remains the best venue of its kind of Wellington. And incredibly it is almost unique in being available to hire without an obligation to use a particular caterer and/or brewery.

Finally it may not be decent to praise our own staff in public, but the fact is that they deserve it, especially after tolerating extra duties, long shifts and long demands on their versatility and patience. This was both before and during the event. In particular we rely on General Manager David Wood to keep the beer flowing in trying circumstances at this and several other festivals and he never lets us down.

Remember also that we're currently in a phase of "mopping up" Pacific Beer Expo leftovers. This means that small quantities of some pretty festive beers are appearing on tap then being quickly drained and replaced with other luxury leftovers.


We recently received a shipment from Mikkeller that included a number of kegs from their latest Single Hop IPA series. This series, which consists of 19 different beers, includes several that are new to us. In fact many of us had never even heard of some of the hop varieties themselves.

Now as part a previous "Single Hop" series, Mikkeller included an extra beer, called 10, that used a blend of all the hops in the series. This latest series led to a similar blend, called 19.

So next Tuesday we're putting both 10 and 19 on side-by-side as our new release. They'll go on tap at 5pm. And don't be surprised if more Mikkeller Single Hop IPAs appear in the New Release Tuesday slot in the near future.

The Return of Adam Page

Our original late Saturday night music act, Adam Page and the Counts, make a one-off comeback this Saturday night. We're pretty excited about it. But we still aren't charging admission. From 10pm.

US Presidential Election

Hot on the heals of next week's celebration of things morbid and grotesque comes the US Presidential Election on November 6 (November 7 to us). Our specially brewed batch of White House Honey Porter is fermenting away at Garage Project. We look forward to putting that on tap while vote counts and the pontifications of pundits are beamed to us via satellite and fibre all afternoon and, who knows, all evening.

Growler Howler, the Epilogue

Sanity, or perhaps inactivity, has prevailed and Hancock's application to trademark the name "Growler" has been officially abandoned. Sounds like the perfect time for Hashigo Zake Brands Ltd to sneak in and trademark it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

October 18, 2012

Pacific Beer Expo This Weekend... New Release Tuesday... Live Music This Week... Día de los Muertos... US Presidential Election...

Pacific Beer Expo This Weekend

As this email goes out there are just under 48 hours until the first session of the second ever Pacific Beer Expo. At this time last year we had more or less announced every beer in the lineup but this year things are a little different. This is partly because there has been uncertainty about some of our international orders. And this year we're including far fewer of the great and iconic beers that we frequently have on tap at Hashigo Zake in favour of truly unusual or rare offerings.

And now with just days to go we have to announce two pieces of bad news about this year's lineup. Orders from Japan's Baird Brewery and Singapore's Jungle Brewery are not going to reach us in time. This is a big blow for the geographical diversity of the lineup and for this we apologise. Customers at Hashigo Zake over the next couple of months will get to drink the beers that would have been in our lineup and will have to imagine still being in the Boatshed as they sip.

But we still have complete faith in the quality and stylistic diversity of this year's offering. And here are some reasons why:

  • We have a preview, not only of a new local beer but a new brewery. It's Fitzpatrick's Brewing Company of Tauranga. Their founder, Craig Fitzpatrick, has been good enough to sell us a keg of beer from an early trial at their brand new 500L brewery - Fitzpatrick's American Amber Ale. Craig wants it made clear that this beer is no more than an early trial, but those of us who are familiar with Craig's work as a home brewer predict great things for the brewery.
  • 8 Wired have provided an early sample of a future release - Barrel Aged Imperial Big Smoke.
  • Wellington's own ParrotDog have a brand new beer receiving it's debut on Saturday - SleuthHound Scotch Ale.
  • Renaissance have sent us a keg of a pilot batch of a future release - Red IPA.
  • Liberty's Joseph Wood recently enquired what "yakima" might mean if it were a Japanese word. One possible answer is "burning devil". Inspired by this he has brewed a one-off small batch of 焼魔, or Yaki Ma. It's an imperial version of Yakima Monster, with most ingredients more or less doubled and worthy of the name.
  • Being from New York State, Southern Tier aren't exactly a Pacific brewery, but they are from a Pacific country. And in lieu of products from our Asian suppliers we're going to stretch the point. So from Southern Tier we will have two of the most outrageously sweet, drinkable and potent beers ever brewed - Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale and Creme Brulee Imperial Stout.
  • Mike's Brewery in Taranaki have brewed a new beer for us - it's a white IPA that they're calling Great Wit. We're also raiding the far corner of our cool store to dig out a keg of Mike's Whisky Porter

We've now named most of the 32 beers that will be on offer on Saturday and Sunday. There are still one or two surprises that may be worth the price of admission on their own.

Time for a few "public service announcements" regarding the Pacific Beer Expo.

  • Many of you chose to collect your ticket(s) from Hashigo Zake but then our web store rather stupidly asked you to give a shipping address. In these cases we have kept your tickets here for collection. If this or any other complication has left customers confused about where your tickets are, please reply to this email.
  • Any tickets still awaiting collection at Hashigo Zake 30 minutes before the festival session starts will be transferred to the Boatshed for collection at the door.
  • Saturday's session is sold out and we aren't holding any tickets back for door sales. (Having said that we are getting a trickle of tickets returned for various reasons and whenever this happens they are put back on sale.) At the time of writing there remain a number of tickets for Sunday's session. If these don't sell out in advance then there may be door sales.

New Release Tuesday

This weekend's festival won't slow down our programme of new releases every Tuesday evening. We just took delivery of some big orders from Nøgne Ø, Mikkeller, Waldhaus and Rogue which give us all sorts of options for interesting releases in the coming weeks.

So next Tuesday it's a new Nøgne Ø beer with a difference. It's a collaboration between Nøgne Ø and a certain brewer who visited New Zealand some months ago at the invitation of a Japanese corporate brewery. His name is Spike Buckowski and he was one of the founders of the Terrapin Brewery in Athens, Georgia. The beer in question is their Imperial Rye Porter. It will be on tap from 5pm on Tuesday and available in bottles soon.

Live Music This Week

Blues return this week in the form of the Nick Granville Trio. They play in the lounge from 10pm.

Día de los Muertos

Last year Garage Project created an instant tradition when they released Day of the Dead, a chilli chocolate dark lager with agave syrup on November 1st. It was one of the most popular beers in the 24/24 programme. So in 2012 they've set out to build on the tradition.

Earlier this year they made Double Day of the Dead and a portion of that batch has been ageing in bourbon barrels. A fresh batch of the original Day of the Dead will be ready for release on November 1st this year. They've also brewed a small batch of a completely new beer also referencing the tradition of Día de los Muertos, that will be released on November 1st as well. (More on this in the coming weeks.)

We suggest keeping November the 1st free.

US Presidential Election

A few months ago, rumours emerged that within the White House beer was being brewed and served at functions there. A petition was started to get the recipe or recipes released. And eventually White House staff relented. Two recipes are available for anyone to download here.

Now the US Presidential Election is less than three weeks away and vote counting will take place on the afternoon of November 7, New Zealand time. We understand that some people find the ordeal of vote-counting, vote-count-reporting and televised punditry compelling entertainment. We're happy to assist such people by putting our Sky subscription and internet connection to good use that day and, if necessary, that evening. So our thoughts naturally turn to the question of what beer should be consumed at such a time?

Like a paparazzo's flash the answer came - White House Honey Porter! Now the White House hasn't been in touch to discuss exporting, so we needed to take their recipe, find a replacement for White House honey, and have a crack. This is exactly what happened this morning at Garage Project brewery, when our own Dave and Dylan were given the keys to the pilot brewery and mashed in presidentially. Which would have sounded much saucier in the Clinton era.

All going well we'll have a keg or two of White House Honey Porter on tap on the afternoon of November 7th. In the interests of bipartisanship we may put Coronado Idiot IPA on beside it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

October 11, 2012

New Release Tuesday... Live Music This Week... Pacific Beer Expo News... The Pathway to Hoppiness... The New Tuatara Brewery... IP Watch...

New Release Tuesday

On October the 2nd we got to serve the first in a series of variants of Garage Project's recently brewed Bastard Rye strong blonde ale. That beer was the raspberry infused version. Next week Bastard Rye returns in another variant - one infused with sour cherries and a dash of Six Barrel Soda's kola nut syrup. It's Bastard Rye: Lola, Lola being the name of Aro Park's resident cat, for those not in the loop.

Bastard Rye: Lola goes on tap next Tuesday at 5pm.

Live Music This Week

We have great pleasure in announcing another new act (new for us, that is) for our Saturday night slot. The Nigel Patterson Trio play in the lounge from 10pm.

Our musical schedule is looking about as good as it ever has right now. The following Saturday (also the evening of the first day of the Pacific Beer Expo) features the return of blues from the Nick Granville Trio, and the week after (October 27) we welcome back the act that started it all - Adam Page and the Counts.

The details of upcoming acts are at eventfinder and, if we've been diligent, at our own website.

Pacific Beer Expo News

Earlier this week Garage Project announced one of the more adventurous beers that we'll be serving at the Pacific Beer Expo. It's their Kava Coconut Brown Ale - a beer made with not only toasted coconut, but kava. If anyone else has ever made a commercial beer incorporating the South Pacific's favourite recreational drug, we'd love to know about it. Seriously, do let us know.

Speaking of Wellington breweries, ParrotDog have a new release coming out at our festival - a Scotch Ale called Sleuthhound, the Shleuthhound being the Shcottish ansher to a Bloodhound.

Meanwhile Kereru have a new beer and it was brewed with assistance from our own Dave and Sam. It's a brown ale made with kumera. And Kereru's Chris is making available a small amount of another of his beers - Velvet Boot, a strong Belgian ale.

From Hamilton we've already announced 666 Brewing's contribution, which is a rare Cream Ale. We can now add that it's called Angels On A Pin. Also from Hamilton Brewaucracy are sending us a keg of their rare Punkin Image Limited.

Meanwhile ticket sales are coming along and there's every chance that the Saturday session will sell out in advance. They're for sale here at Hashigo Zake or at our web store.

The Pathway to Hoppiness

Last week's Pathway to Hoppiness tasting, run by our friends from Craft Beer College on our premises, was such an overwhelming success that extra attendees were accommodated and there was still a waiting list. For the benefit of those on the waiting list CBC are considering putting on a repeat event this Saturday. Anyone interested should let CBC know as soon as possible by emailing

The New Tuatara Brewery

Tuatara Brewery and, indeed, Wellington's craft brewing industry passed a significant milestone yesterday with the official opening of the new Tuatara facility in Paraparaumu. Instead of having capacity continually trying to catch up to demand at what was basically a rural site, Tuatara suddenly have a brewery that they can grow into and is on a sealed road.

So great is the capacity at Sheffield St that smaller breweries are beating a path to Tuatara's door to get help increasing their own output. Suddenly Tuatara are assuming a wider role in the rapid development of the craft beer industry in our region. Details like this weren't lost on yesterday's guest of honour, the Prime Minister, who said it was important that he not be seen chundering after drinking Tuatara's beer.

IP Watch

IPONZ and New Zealand's brewing industry didn't conspire to come up with any clangers in the world of trademarks in the last seven days. Instead we can report a little good news. Kirin-San Miguel-Lion Nathan have voluntarily cancelled their trademark on the name Blind Pig, although the reason given was that they didn't need it any more, not that they cared that they were borrowing someone else's beer name.

But to be fair, Castlemaine-Toohey-Lion's lawyer did mention that "[Lion] does not condone any actions which subvert the trade mark rights of brand owners or the integrity of a category (for instance, in the beer category, attempts to trade mark a beer style)."

Fist bump.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

October 4, 2012

IP Watch... Experiments in Televised Entertainment... New Release Tuesday... Live Music This Week... Pacific Beer Expo News...

IP Watch

Our weekly update of comings and goings in the trademark world arrived on our metaphorical desktop from IPONZ this morning. There were some uncontroversial titbits to digest, such as the successful trademarking of "ParrotDog" by the ParrotDog brewery. And there was Lion Nathan successfully trademarking "Crafty Beggars", the name that we believe will be used in their next claim to host a "craft beer brand" within their industrial-corporate entity.

Then this appeared. It seems Lion Nathan have trademarked Blind Pig, the name of one of the world's most celebrated and highly rated IPAs. As documented in wikipedia, the term Blind Pig dates back to the prohibition era to describe a kind of illegal bar. Perhaps Lion Nathan wanted to reference this tradition for some purpose, but they have registered the trade mark for a beer. So it wouldn't have been hard for Lion Nathan or IPONZ to dig around and learn that Blind Pig is the name of an iconic American IPA that is rated 6th highest in the world on

On the other hand, Hancocks' application to trademark "Growler" and Stoke's application to trademark "Snakebite" are both still languishing in the "Under Examination" state. Perhaps IPONZ are beginning to recognise spurious trademark claims.

Experiments in Televised Entertainment

This Sunday afternoon sees us, once again, push back the boundaries of what qualifies as suitable entertainment for a bar. We'll be streaming direct from New York, over our very own fibre connection to the interwebs, the Jon Stewart vs Bill O'Reilly debate, which we predict will be more entertaining than this afternoon's Romney vs Obama debate.

The fun starts at 1pm, provided our time zone adjustments are better than Jetstar's.

New Release Tuesday

After the heady excitement of Garage Project's pretty remarkable Bastard Rye (Raspberry), a new Imperial IPA from New York seems kind of mundane. But participants in last evening's tasting of recent imports from the US will know quite how striking some of the Southern Tier beers can be and the brewery boast that this is a "hop lover's dream".

Southern Tier's 2XIPA goes on tap at 5pm.

Live Music This Week

This week's musical offering is another trip back to the genre of Gypsy Jazz, this time from local five-piece Black Spider Stomp. The music starts at 10pm.

Pacific Beer Expo News

A couple of weeks ago we announced that Oregon's Pelican Brewery will be represented at the Pacific Beer Expo by their Doryman's Dark. We can add to that that their fantastic IPA (India Pelican Ale) will be on tap too.

Pelican's collaborator from earlier this year, Hamilton's 666 Brewing, will be represented too, with a Cream Ale. While it's important for a festival to have its share of show ponies and hop bombs, it's also fitting to have stylistic diversity. Pre-prohibition Cream Ales are pretty rare in New Zealand - Golden Ticket made one once and we brought in a few cases of an example by Mikkeller and Revelation Cat. So we're pleased to announce that 666's Cream Ale will be there to be enjoyed by beer-style geeks and everyone else.

We can also announce the return of a big success from last year - Feral's Barrel Fermented Hop Hog.