Thursday, November 29, 2012

November 29, 2012

Hobbit-Themed Beer... Mexas Ranger... Upcoming Emerson's Beer... Craft Beer College "Exam"... Live Music... The 2012 Santa Session...

Hobbit-Themed Beer

A little while ago we featured a beer called Our Precious, that we smuggled over from Oregon at great trouble and expense. That beer was the result of a collaboration between Graeme Mahy of Hamilton's 666 Brewing and the multi-award winning Oregon brewpub called Pelican.

As is often the way with collaborative beers, the beer has been re-brewed by the party that had originally travelled to take part. In other words, Graeme has brewed a local version of Our Precious. It went on tap yesterday. For those who missed out on the Oregon-brewed version it's a superb "New World" Pale Ale.

Yeastie Boys have brewed what we understand is a more "official" Hobbit-related beer. It's Golden Perch, "named for the pub that reputedly served the best beer in Tolkien's Eastfarthing". It's a 4.4% golden ale and will appear on one of our hand pumps any minute.

Mexas Ranger

Next week's new release is one we've been looking forward to since rumours of this beer emerged months ago. It's a variant on Mikkeller's incredibly popular chipotle porter (Texas Ranger) but with five kinds of chilli, almond milk, cocoa, black beans and avocado.

It will be on tap from 5pm on Tuesday, before the Santa Session!

Upcoming Emerson's Beer

Yes you read that right. Nothing has changed about our policy of buying from breweries other than Heineken DB and Kirin Lion Nathan. But until the end of the month Emerson's remain independent and the ever-gracious personnel at the brewery were good enough to get in touch this week and let us know that they had some of our empty kegs! So we're getting them filled this week - probably with Weissbier.

Craft Beer College "Exam"

Craft Beer College's inaugural season of tastings comes to a close this Saturday, with an exercise in the important and demanding task of tasting beer "blind". Attendees' ability to discern what they've tasted will be monitored with prizes given to the most discerning. In fact Hashigo Zake is contributing one or two pieces of swag to make sure the prizes are desirable.

Anyone interested in attending should get in touch by emailing

Live Music

This week Darren Watson and his Underground Blues Band return. On past experience this is all that need be said to promote this event.

The 2012 Santa Session

Next Tuesday's 2012 Santa Session is more or less full. If one or two people were to waste no time and proceed to the Cult Beer Store they might pick up the last places.

See you all on Tuesday!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

November 21, 2012

Breaking With Tradition... Garage Project Releases... Craft Beer College "Exam"... Live Music... The 2012 Santa Session...

Breaking with Tradition

We're breaking with a tradition dating back to the end of the first decade of the 21st century by sending this email on a Wednesday. This is to correct a grievous omission from last Thursday's email. On that day we failed to draw attention to an event of some significance happening, ahem... [shuffles papers, mumbles] this evening.

Yes this very evening we have the pleasure of being the first outlet anywhere to tap a keg of the 2012 release of Tuatara American Pale Ale.

This beer has enormous significance for many of us. To be blunt, its release a couple of years ago was the first time in years that hopheads took Tuatara seriously. It paved the way for Aotearoa Pale Ale, Conehead, Mayday and Double Trouble. But this APA is dependent on the supply of those decadent US hops.

So we're delighted that Tuatara have made a large pile of kegs of the stuff available for us to serve tonight and (depending how tonight goes) for a few more days after that.

Those arriving on or shortly after 5pm should find some pretty generous samples of the beer being doled out too. We're also expecting many of Tuatara's key personnel to be on the premises at the appointed hour.

Now we are also aware that a certain other institution of the Wellington craft beer phenomenon returns this evening - Regional Wines and Spirits Beer Options. For the last couple of years we've sponsored prizes in this event, only to see them come back tucked under the arms of members of a team made up of staff from Hashigo Zake and Craft Beer College. We're undeterred and will, once again, try to supply some swag that gives competitors an extra incentive to unseat the reigning Beer Options champions.

Beer Options competitors are welcome to return to Hashigo Zake after the competition to sample some of the new batch of Tuatara APA. And if you latch on to Dave or Shiggy you might even be able to sponge a taxi ride.

Upcoming Garage Project Releases

There's an unintended theme to this week's news. Just as Tuatara release their clearly American influenced beer, Garage Project are about to release a succession of beers with American "inspirations". The first of those comes on Tuesday. It's California Über Alles, an interpretation of the famous but not so common California Common style. (As in Anchor Steam™.)

The vital info is that California Über Alles is brewed with US Northern Brewer hops, Pale, Vienna, Crystal and Caramel malts and California Lager yeast. We're told that in the next few weeks Garage Project will be releasing batches of Pils'n'Thrills, Golden Brown and Angry Peaches - all with US connections. There's more info on Garage Project's own site.

Note that as a beer made for general release California Über Alles isn't part of Garage Project's 24 More programme. But we know that more experiments in that series are waiting in the wings. We expect more from 24 More before Christmas.

There's some bonus news for fans of Wellington's most garagey brewery. All pretence of secrecy over their trip to Tuatara about a month ago has been abandoned and we can talk openly about their "contract brewed" batch of Red Rocks Reserve. When you turn up at someone else's brewery with your own hot rocks it hardly seems to fit the classic definition of a contract brew. The reason Garage Project took themselves and their rocks to Paraparaumu was to take advantage of Tuatara's bottling capability. So a massive batch of Red Rocks Reserve was brewed and it all gets bottled this Friday. We'll have stock in time for next Tuesday's California Über Alles release - maybe even earlier.

In case anyone has forgotten, Red Rocks Reserve is the beer that results from taking the wort for a pretty tasty, hoppy red ale and passing it through and over ultra-hot rocks, in an adaptation of the tradition of stein-brewing.

And at the risk of repeating a point made earlier, we're very excited to see two Wellington breweries collaborating.

Craft Beer College "Exam"

Craft Beer College's inaugural season of tastings comes to a close on December 1st, with an exercise in the important and demanding task of tasting beer "blind". Attendees' ability to discern what they've tasted will be monitored with prizes given to the most discerning. In fact Hashigo Zake is contributing one or two pieces of swag to make sure the prizes are desirable.

Anyone interested in attending should get in touch by emailing

Live Music

We have to acknowledge another failing in last week's email from us to you :- we failed to mention last Saturday's live gig. But last week's shortcomings are this week's steps on a path of continual improvement.

So we can announce that this Saturday evening live musical entertainment will be provided by the Tony Mad Trio performing Texas Boogie in the tradition of Stevie Ray Vaughan. From 10pm and at no charge.

The 2012 Santa Session

A handful of places remain for the 2012 Santa Session, coming up on December 4. More details and bookings are at the Cult Beer Store.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

November 15, 2012

Fresh Baird Beer... The First Hashigo Zake Smartphone App... The 2012 Santa Session... Other Things To Look Forward To...

Fresh Baird Beer

It has been a while since we took delivery of any kegs from Japan's Baird brewery. But they recently made a switch to using plastic key kegs for exporting and we put in an order. When that shipment turned up at our warehouse last week with two of those kegs suffering catastrophic damage en route, the choice of keg was looking slightly problematic. The silver lining is that there's nothing wrong with the beer in the 16 kegs that survived the journey.

So next week we get to put a Baird beer in the New Release Tuesday slot. It's Big Red Machine Fall Classic Ale, a beer released in October every year since 2005 to mark baseball's "World Series". The "Big Red Machine" is a reference to Bryan Baird's childhood and the Cincinnati Reds team of 1975 that won the "World Series".

Big Red Machine won a bronze medal at the 2008 World Beer Cup in Category 19 - "Cellar or Unfiltered Beer".

The First Hashigo Zake Smartphone App

Many regular customers will be used to the sight of our especially regular customer, Robin Sheat, toiling at a laptop in the Red Room while sipping quality ale. We should have foreseen that all that beer-fueled work would yield something inspired. Because a couple of weeks ago he made the first "Hashigo Zake" Android app available. It hooks into the data files we hold on our website to generate our own menu and presents that menu in a more productive and interactive form.

While the app is still quite simple we're in awe of Robin's enterprise and willingness to work with our own haphazard file formats. Serious geek cred.

If you're reading this on an Android device, perhaps consider following this link:

Now, strangely, the idea of creating a version of this app for Apple devices doesn't excite Robin. So we're left with an unintended google-bias in our 3rd party application manifest. Perhaps iOS developers don't like good beer.

The 2012 Santa Session

As predicted last week, we can now announce details of the 2012 Santa Session. It's our chance to celebrate the end of a thoroughly enjoyable year with many of our favourite customers - particularly SOBA members, who get to join the fun for just $20. Not only is the price the same as last year, participants will be able to take away their souvenir glass afterwards!

Anyone interested will need to book, which is done via our webstore: here.

Other Things To Look Forward To

8 Wired have a new pale ale, which we'll have on tap soon.

As promised last week, Liberty XPA (Extra Pale Ale) is very close.

There's a new batch of Funk Estate's Black IPA, which these days is going by the name Funk'nstein. Funk Estate's owners remain oblivious to what an awesome name Blaxpoitation would be for this beer, having all been born in the '80s.

We were saving a keg of Twisted Hop Marmalale, but apparently the brewery need the empty keg back, so we'll have no choice but to put this on shortly.

For those who like their pilsners and wheat beer to taste authentically German, we have Waldhaus Schwarzwald Weisse on tap now, with Diplom Pils coming soon.

As well as next week's New Release, there will be more Baird on tap soon with Suruga Bay Imperial IPA returning.

Finally, since this has been a relatively short dispatch, anyone dissatisfied can find extra reading here.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

November 8, 2012

Phew... New Release Tuesday... Saturday Night Gig... On Tap Now or Soon... Some Upcoming Dates...


What a strange few days it has been. After the extremely enjoyable Day of the Dead releases and celebrations late last week, Tuesday brought the bombshell of the sale of Emerson's and we got in something of a debate by press release, blog post and radio interview. Still on Tuesday we launched two chilli beers then yesterday we hosted some of our busiest mid-week trade ever thanks to the US election.

There has been an awful lot said in a short time about the Emerson's sale, so for now we'll just repeat the gist of our stance. That is that Emerson's new owners are a brewing company whose products we decline to stock as a matter of policy. Emerson's investors deserve congratulations and thanks for twenty years of magnificent, pioneering work for which they will now, finally, receive financial reward.

But from our point of view, and unlike the sale of Emerson's, yesterday's presidential election was a victory for good beer. Our take on White House Honey Porter, brewed on Garage Project's pilot system by our own Dave and Dylan, turned out to be actually quite nice. It's a pity it ran out so quickly. And a home brewer (yes, that's a stretch) was returned to the White House.

New Release Tuesday

After two chilli beers from the Pacific Rim next week's new release also features unconventional adjuncts, but comes from Scandinavia. Yes it's another new Nøgne Ø beer with a pretty intriguing name and description. It's called Citrus Hystrix, which happens to be the botanic name for Kaffir Lime, which is in the beer in some form, along with tangerine juice, rye and oats. It's categorised as an IPA, but since we haven't tried it yet ourselves we can't add much more. But reviews on ratebeer are promising and we're looking forward to this a lot.

Nøgne Ø Citrus Hystrix IPA goes on tap for the first time on Tuesday at 5pm.

Saturday Night Gig

The Kirsten Te Rito Trio bring funk back to our lounge this Saturday night from 10pm. As always admission is rounded down to $0.

On Tap Now or Soon

Our lineup is changing as frequently and unpredictably as ever right now, as we juggle special releases (like yesterday's election beer), Tuesday releases and a handful of remaining luxury leftovers from the Pacific Beer Expo. Even on a Thursday it's risky to try and predict what will be on tap on Friday night.

But we'll give one beer a fanfare, although it may not get on tap until next week. It's a new beer from Liberty called Extra Pale Ale. It's designed as a hoppy but very light and easy drinking pale ale. Joe is confident that it will be a hit over the, ahem, "warmer" months. It's packed with Amarillo hops and for many of us the Amarillo version of his West Coast Blond beers of the last couple of summers was the pick of that series.

Some Upcoming Dates

Tuatara's American Pale Ale has always been incredibly popular with our customers and it's about to become available again. In fact we're talking to the brewery about hosting a (re-)launch of the beer in the near future. Stay tuned for more details.

The 2012 Santa Session will take place on Tuesday December 4. We aren't taking bookings yet - all going well we'll open bookings at the same time that next week's email goes out. The format will be more or less the same as the previous two years. We'll bring in lots of the slower moving products from our warehouse, work through them one or two beers at a time and pour liberal samples to all those taking part. We promise extremely good value for money, particularly for SOBA members whose tickets will be discounted.

This very day Liberty's Joe Wood is brewing a new, high-gravity beer that he plans to release in several bars simultaneously on December the 12th - or 12.12.12.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November 1, 2012

Día de los Muertos... Chilli Beers... Darren Watson... US Presidential Election...

Día de los Muertos

Very shortly we'll be hosting a triple release of Garage Project Day of the Dead beers. Those are Day of the Dead, Double Day of the Dead and Bourbon Barrel Aged Day of the Dead. As many of you will be tired of being told, last year's Day of the Dead was one of the most popular beers, or perhaps the most popular beer of the original 24/24 programme.

Then tomorrow it will be the turn of Day of the Dead's new sister beer - La Calevera Catrina. This maize-based, habanero-infused, watermelon and rose-water-finished curiosity has most of us scratching our heads before we've even tasted it. It could be the start of a phenomenon. But with only a tiny initial batch made it would be tempting fate to not race along to try it tomorrow evening.

Garage Project aren't the only brewery with a liking for the Mexican Day of the Dead. Rogue have been making Dead Guy Ale and Dead Guy Whiskey for years. We started stocking Dead Guy Whiskey recently. The first bottle is nearly finished and whoever orders the last serving can take home the glow-in-the-dark bottle!

Finally to coincide with the next two days' special releases we've tweaked the lighting in our red room to make it even redder and today's music is streaming direct from Mexico.

Chilli Beers

Hot on the heals of our somewhat chilli-infused Day of the Dead beers, the finals of the national chilli eating contest take place on Saturday. Liberty have made a special chilli beer for it, called Dragon's Whaia. Given Joseph Wood's notorious appetite for ridiculously hot chillies it seems reasonable to assume that this will be a challenging drop. It will be one of our new releases next Tuesday.

Now we haven't tried Dragon's Whaia yet but are making a few assumptions about its intensity. So for the sensible among us who prefer our capsaicin in quantities that aren't life-threatening we're putting on a second beer. It's Jungle Brewing's Cerveza Habanero.

Cerveza Habanero will be our first ever Southeast Asian craft beer. We just took delivery of a pallet of beer intended for the Pacific Beer Expo but which (obviously) didn't quite make it in time. We're assuming that a brewery who specialises in wheat beers infused with tropical fruits is going to show a little restraint when making a chilli beer. But then again it shouldn't come as a surprise if something originating in Southeast Asia has a little kick to it as well.

We'll all know for sure at around 5pm on Tuesday

And since we just mentioned the Pacific Beer Expo, a review just appeared on Australia's Crafty Pint.

Darren Watson

Darren Watson's Underground Blues Band are back in the lounge this Saturday night. The complimentary entertainment starts at 10pm.

US Presidential Election

The US Presidential Election is next Wednesday - New Zealand time and weather permitting. As the vote counting begins we're looking forward to tapping the only kegs in New Zealand (that we know of) of White House Honey Porter (Garage Project / Hashigo Zake remix). We'll pipe a combination of a satellite news channel and internet-sourced coverage through the TVs and look out for early signs of an impending zombie apocalypse.