Thursday, December 27, 2012

December 27, 2012

Music This Saturday... New Year's Eve... New Release Tuesday...

Music This Saturday

As a central city, underground bar we choose to deny the need for New Zealand's traditional summer shutdown and urban evacuation. And so it's very much business as usual here, right down to our weekly institutions including this Saturday night's musical slot. This week it's taken by Darren Watson's Underground Blues Band. If you've ever wanted to take in one of Darren's gigs but were perhaps discouraged by their sheer popularity, this Saturday may be your best chance to find a comfortable pozzy, cradle a nice sipping beer and take in the glory of authentic blues played in a subterranean environment.

The doity old blues played filthily (Darren's words) start at 10pm.

New Year's Eve

Having been in business a few years now, we can look back at our own records and tell a little about how our customers behave when certain annual events roll around. And we have definitely learned that for our customers an increment to the portion of the date denoting the year has about the same significance as a typical Saturday night. Which is fitting since both occasions are equally predictable and momentous, even if one happens 52 times more frequently.

So this year we're treating December 31 (next Monday) quite a lot like a Saturday night - we'll get ready to serve a few more rum and cokes and pinot gris and we'll have musical support from the Nick Granville Trio from 10pm, at no charge. And we expect, in fact we promise, a lot less mayhem and carnage than you'll see on Courtenay Place.

New Release Tuesday

Another institution carries on serenely over the New Year period. New Release Tuesday will be back on New Year's Day with a Mikkeller two punch in the form of Hop Burn High and Hop Burn Low. These are top and bottom fermented versions of what are otherwise identical beers. The wort for both is essentially that of an Imperial IPA. And they both come through at a nice round 10% ABV. Fortunately the 2nd of Jan is also a holiday.

They'll both go on tap at 5pm on New Year's Day. Or perhaps, since few if any of you will be coming from a day job, we'll flick the switch earlier in the day.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December 20, 2012

Business as Usual... The End of Time... Two New IPAs... Upcoming Music... IP Watch - Enduring Freedom Edition...

Business as Usual

At the risk of boring regular readers, we'd like to emphasise once again how little will change for us over the next few days. We have no choice but to close on Christmas Day (starting from 11:30pm the night before) but will be trading as usual from Boxing Day until Good Friday next year. Our Saturday gigs in the lounge won't stop and there will even be an extra New Years Eve show (see below). And we'll apply none of those annoying holiday surcharges.

The only component of our regular offering to suffer will be New Release Tuesday. With Christmas Day a Tuesday it would just seem wrong to have it a day late or early during a period when many of our regular customers are away, so New Release Tuesday will have its first hiatus since it started as an institution earlier this year. But it will be back on New Year's Day.

Strange as it may seem this email will be back next week. It's hard to tell what we'll have to say and it's unclear whether anyone will be reading it, going by those terribly useful out-of-office replies you send back to us. You know, the ones detailing everywhere you're going and what awards you've won lately. Oops - no that's just Luke Nicholas.

The End of Time

Joseph Wood has been talking up La Fin du Temps, his Mayan-doomsday beer, on the social networks. On facebook today he wrote:

...Brewing the beer was a labour of love. For the best part, I absolutely do not enjoy using whole flowers in my brewing system. Regardless, I had a fairly generous 10 grams per litre of the whole flowers throughout the boil and in the hopback. Then the yeast… well, let’s just say that at 1.091… you need a LOT of yeast to ferment the wort....
...I am extremely proud of this beer. When a brewery is known for its ability to produce big hoppy beers, and big malty beers it can be a struggle to break the mould and attempt something different. I would describe this beer as an imperial Saison… but please don’t let the style connotations guide your experience.

The full text is at Liberty Brewing's facebook page.

It's our habit to put new releases on at 5pm. We could wait until 7:30pm and make a little extra income by making everyone buy other drinks first, but who would be that cynical?

But tomorrow we suspect a lot of you will be drifting home from your jobs a little earlier than usual, so we'll aim to get this beer on nice and early in the afternoon (subject to it being delivered from our warehouse nice and early).

Two New IPAs

Last week we described Ryefix IPA, a collaboration between Australia's Northdown and Denmark's Beer Here, brewed at Invercargill and being sold by us. It's proven to be a pretty rich, tasty IPA and we've already been through a keg over the last two nights. It's available in bottles right now and will be back on tap in the near future.

Also out in time for Christmas is ParrotDog's new American IPA that they're calling PitBull. It seemed a pretty apt name even before the Matts set about intellectualising it:

How quickly and easily America forgets its heroes. Owned by three American presidents and given the highest military honours of any other breed, the American Pit Bull Terrier is a very misunderstood dog. It was even used as America’s canine military mascot during the First World War. However, it’s own extreme power and aggressiveness – which ultimately led to its much less-than-favourable status in today’s society – cannot be underestimated.
And neither can this beer. PitBull has a huge, pungent American-hopped aroma that leaps out of an equally sized rich, golden malt base. The finish is very bitter. This is our most aggressive beer yet in terms of malt, hop and alcohol levels – you've been warned!

Pitbull, which is a limited release, will be on tap very soon.

Upcoming Music

Popular blues band The Nick Granville Trio return this Saturday and will also be back for an extra performance on New Years Eve. And the equally popular Darren Watson will be back with his Underground Blues Band on Saturday the 29th.

IP Watch - Enduring Freedom Edition

Our regular updates from IPONZ regarding trademark activity have had surprisingly few shockers in the last week or two. What has been interesting is a sudden rush by a few brewers that we actually respect to trademark some of their well known and original beer names.

So we're casting a slightly wider net to bring in a shocking misuse of a term we like. Following a tip-off from Hugh of Hopscotch in Auckland we've learned that there's a bar in Ponsonby called Freeman and Grey whose beer taps are 100% controlled by Lion Nathan but are calling themselves a "freehouse". Hugh has taken it up with the Commerce Commission. We wish him luck. Next thing Lion Nathan will be opening their own chain of "Cult Beer Bars". Today's nonsense suggestion is tomorrow's business plan.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 13, 2012

Immediately below Beer Decadence... The End of Time... Rye IPA... Music This Saturday...

Beer Decadence

As foreshadowed in last week's email, next Tuesday Garage Project will unveil what might be the most extravagant beer ever made commercially in New Zealand. The story began when Boundary Road mailed five dollar notes to 22,000 people and Garage Project invited recipients to donate them to a "fermenter fund". The amount raised wasn't quite enough to fund any serious stainless steel purchases, so instead it was used to fund the purchase of the most expensive ingredients possible for a beer.

The result is a Belgian Blonde Ale fermented with a Champagne Yeast, and conditioned on White Truffle infused Honey and fresh grated White Truffles. And we'll be launching this affront to brewing's blue collar roots on Tuesday at 5pm.

The End of Time

Plenty of people seem to have been conflating the alleged Mayan prediction of the end of the world (scheduled for 21/12/2012) with the numerically quaint date of 12/12/12. So really, anyone celebrating having survived yesterday is in danger of looking pretty silly in eight days time.

But for many the question is not "will the world end next Friday?" but "how will we survive?". Yes apparently the end of the world is somehow survivable. Just as well because there's not much point flogging Let's Get Ready to Rapture coffee mugs if you aren't around to spend the proceeds.

But as even the Decembertwentyfirstists admit, they aren't quite sure how the end will come, so it's hard to see what measure will really see any of us through. In other words, we guarantee that the survival strategy we are about to give is as effective as any and every other one.

That strategy is to come along next Friday and inoculate yourself against the end by drinking Liberty Brewing's La Fin du Temps (incorrectly called La Fin du Monde last week) which is an experimental, small batch, strong Saison. Then when you wake up on the morning of December 22 try to remember that we're something like eighteen hours ahead of Mayan daylight time.


A month or so ago we were visited by Adam Betts of Melbourne distributor Northdown and Christian Skovdal Andersen of Danish brewing company Beer Here. They were on something of a tour, mixing white water rafting with some white-knuckle brewing at Tuatara and Croucher, that we believe will result in some collaborative releases in the near future.

They also visited Invercargill Brewery to make a Rye IPA hopped only with Australian "Ella" hops. The resulting beer is Ryefix IPA. At the time of writing kegs and bottles of this beer are on their way north to us and in a day or so we'll be rushing this onto our shelves, taps and to our wholesale customers.

Incidentally Ella hops were once known as "Stella" (just as a slightly better known Australian hop is called Galaxy) until an objection from whichever corporate entity now owns the Stella Artois. No we're not making this up.

Music This Saturday

We host a new musical act this Saturday, just in case there was a danger that some of our regular acts became too much of a good thing. They're Scarlet, a two piece jazz and soul combo. They're on at 10pm on Saturday with the now traditional $0 cover charge.

And just quietly, the 2013 Fringe Festival programme came out yesterday, and there's a small development in our role as a performance venue.

Finally, and still on the subject of live music, Hashigo Zake's management mourns the recent tragic death of the unique performer and uncannily nice Wellingtonian, Steve Andrews.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

December 6, 2012

Beer Decadence... More Beer Decadence... Tropical Beer... Music This Week... Christmas Rituals... Something Free!...

Beer Decadence

Way back in late 2011 a certain company specialising in the production of RTDs and green bottle beer that we'll call erm... "Independent" launched a beer brand that we'll call ahm... "Boundary Road". As part of an early brand-building exercise they enlisted volunteer tasters who would later receive a letter with a $5 note paperclipped to it, a little like this.

Many of us were puzzled by this practice of signing up members of the public then just sending out five bucks as reward - an amount that on its own was token but if done 22,000 times dwarfs the annual advertising budget of most of New Zealand's craft breweries. Since Boundary Road didn't seem to need to the cash, Garage Project invited recipients to donate their Hillaries to a Garage Project "fermenter fund".

Now the eventual use that the collected monies were put to will be explained next week. But in the meantime Garage Project invites those who passed on their Boundary Road notes to remind us who you are by getting in touch (replying to this email will do). And maybe leave a little of the evening of December 18 free.

More Beer Decadence

Allegedly the Mayan calendar ends next Friday (December 21) and the world's going to explode. Liberty Brewing have taken this little understood threat seriously and are inviting us to accept the planet's fate and drink a beer fit for the end of the world. Although going by reports from New Plymouth this beer's yeast doesn't appreciate the urgency of the situation and is taking longer than expected to ferment out. But Joe is confident that by Friday December 21 his La Fin du Temps strong saison will be ready to drink.

Now for many of you the 21st will be your last day of work for 2012. (Perhaps it was the upheaval that would be caused by the sudden departure of most of New Zealand's workforce on December 21st that clouded the view of the future for the Mayans, inadvertently triggering today's confusion.) It seems a perfect circumstance for a radical, big new beer from the extraordinary Liberty brewery.

Tropical Beer

Our next Tuesday New Release is another from Singapore's Jungle Beer. In Singapore's climate it seems their fruit-infused wheat beers are enormously popular, to the extent that there are several variants. And international visitors frequently comment on how Singapore-like Wellington's early summer is. Tragically we missed out on the durian-flavoured beer, but we did pick up a couple of others, including this week's new release - Tropical Wheat - Pink Guava and Soursop.

Now before anyone thinks we've sold out and are stocking beer-flavoured alcopops in the style of Stone's notorious (and fictional) Extreme Lemony-Lime, there's another side to this beer. It turns out that Soursop is something of a wonder-fruit with cancer-curing powers. We look forward to demand for this beer resembling the great 1999 mussel-rush.

And speaking of beers perfect for the Wellington, ahem, summer, it was about a year ago that a visit by Nøgne Ø's Kjetil led to the release of Summer Sommer, an attempt by him and Garage Project to create a southern hemisphere Christmas beer, using rye malt and pohutakawa honey. For a tiny batch of beer it over-achieved, picking up a trophy for Best Speciality beer at the Australian International Beer Awards earlier this year. There was even a video made.

Next week Garage Project release the first large batch of Summer Sommer. We look forward to putting it on tap, and if pieces fall into place it may back up our fruity, wheaty friend in Tuesday's new release slot.

Incidentally there are hopes that a batch of Summer Sommer will be brewed at Nøgne Ø some time in 2013.

Music This Week

On Saturday night The X-Ray Catz return to mine the mineral-rich ground beneath the meeting point of rock and roll, rockabilly and swing.

We'd like to offer discounted admission to people with dancing shoes, but there's no charge to start with. From 10pm.

End of Year Rituals

This will be our business's fourth Christmas & New Year period since opening and over the years our attitude to the holiday season hasn't changed. And that is that our duty is to maintain as consistent a service as possible for our regular customers. So apart from Christmas Day, when we're legally required to stay closed, we'll be opening as usual at noon every day. And we will not apply any of those annoying holiday surcharges.

Experience tells us that new year revelry and quality beer don't necessarily go hand in hand and we've learned not to expect New Year's Eve to be a big night for us. Nevertheless we owe it to our customers to provide an alternative to whatever it is you call what goes on in your average Courtenay Place establishment. So we will have live music on New Year's Eve from the Nick Granville Trio.

Our annual survey, which we believe leads to the most reliable and considered report on what's good in New Zealand craft brewing, will be back very early in the new year. (Because no-one would be stupid enough to choose Best Of 2012 awards before the end of the year, would they?)

Something Free!

Thanks to Sky TV we have a couple of massive "Summer of Cricket" posters. Free to a good home.