Thursday, February 28, 2013

February 28, 2012

Craft Beer College

After a successful run of tastings in 2012, as well as this year's "Faux Craft" tastings, the Craft Beer Wānanga are bringing back their original curriculum for a run of Saturday afternoon tastings on our very own premises. The first is on March 9. We wholeheartedly endorse CBC's work and encourage anyone wanting some tutoring with their beer drinking to head along to for full details on how to participate.

New Release Liberty

Next week's new release is courtesy of Liberty. It's called Midnight and it's a double oatmeal stout. It will be one of the last new beers to come out of the suburban New Plymouth garage that was the first Liberty Brewery. As usual it will be on tap from 5pm on Tuesday. In the words of the brewer (who rarely holds back if he's pleased with his results), "it's beautiful beer".

A portion of the batch is currently aging in a barrel and will be released as Midnight Deluxe in a little while.

Music on Saturday

Our music on Saturday night comes from travelling acoustic singer/songwriter Bryce Wastney. It should be some contrast with last Saturday's blues. As always it's a 10pm start and no cover charge.


Today's the last official day of summer (depending whose arbitrary determination of these things you go by) and in anticipation of plummeting temperatures we've got some enormous stouts lined up. One was announced above, being Liberty's Midnight. As well we'll have Moo Brew Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, which has been resting in our cool store since last year's Beervana, and Left Coast's Voodoo Stout.

What's Going On?

With the Great Kiwi Beer Festival behind us we don't have so much news of our own this week. But it looks as though New Zealand's brewing industry has a hydro lake's worth of news and the dam is about to burst. As hinted above, we know that Liberty's 300L brewery will be moving to a new home soon. But the air is thick with rumours at the moment and they relate to transactions between large and small breweries. The aggressive buying programmes of Lion, DB and (In)dependent Liquor may be about to bear fruit, although if you believe one rumour that's already in the public domain one of those may find itself being sold and merged with one of the others anyway.

All of which creates the potential for a great dilemma for us at Hashigo Zake. Our business was founded by consumers who resented the lack of choice in Wellington bars - a situation that came about by design, not chance. We've done well by stocking the products of pretty much anyone but the two big breweries. But if those big breweries have their way New Zealand's best small, independent breweries won't be independent any more and if we want to keep stocking their product your and our spending will once again be going into the pockets of the duopolists.

Incidentally, and before we all get carried away with gloom, one of the rumours to come to our attention recently was of a late decision by one brewery not to go through with a partial sale.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

February 21, 2013

Relaunches... Entertainment... Great Kiwi Beer Festival... Tuatara Dinner... Sour Beer... Slow News Week...


Next week our typical New Release Tuesday kind of morphs into Re-Release Tuesday and Wednesday.

Koppi IPA

First up in the Tuesday New Release slot is a beer we have had in bottles but have never had the pleasure of pouring on tap. It's Mikkeller Koppi IPA - a beer that subtly uses coffee to tweak a typically hoppy IPA. It's all explained very succinctly here.

As usual it's on tap from 5pm.

Mike's Imperial IPA

Mike's Imperial IPA (or simply Mike's Organic IPA as it was known a couple of years ago) has been absent for a surprisingly long time. Based on a recipe from Liberty's Joe Wood it was, for a long time, one of the best (and one of the few) local interpretations of an American Imperial IPA.

Mike's are giving us the honour of helping to re-launch this old favourite next Wednesday evening. Brewery owner Ron Trigg (five time nominee for nicest guy in brewing) will be on hand to field any questions or compliments. There will be some kind of discount on the beer as well.

From next week the beer will be available in 500ml bottles, but it is a limited release so we're not sure how long it will be around.


Our first ever week as a fringe festival venue has, so far, been a runaway success. The one online review that we know of for We Built This City was mostly gushing and certainly recognised the sense of fun that has infected everyone who has attended. The show has three more performances. It's been pretty cosy in our lounge so we recommend coming in plenty of time before the 9pm start time.

Saturday is going to be fun for all concerned because the final performance of We Built This City will lead into a gig by the ever-popular Darren Watson's Underground Blues Band. The usual 10pm start time for our Saturday night gig will be delayed by as long as it takes for Adam Page and James Nokise to make way for Darren and his band. Please be patient.

Great Kiwi Beer Festival

For the second time a Hashigo Zake delegation is travelling to Christchurch this weekend with a truck-full of our favourite imports to present the "World of Beer Marquee" at the Great Kiwi Beer Festival. It will be a little like a mini-Pacific Beer Expo taking place within a larger (10,000-strong) beer festival. It should be a lot of hard work and a lot of fun. If any of our customers or supporters will be in Christchurch on Saturday or have friends living there, please put in a word for us.

Tuatara Dinner

We've been asked to draw our subscribers' attention to this event taking place at the Zealandia Cafe in a week's time, featuring the beers of Tuatara matched to the cafe's food. We understand that Tuatara's new Tripel will feature in the lineup.

Sour Beer

We're getting to put some sour beer on tap very shortly. One is 8 Wired Grand Cru, which Søren explains here is a complex blend of several beers and some funky barrel treatment that has been much feted but barely seen in public. We'll also have Mike's Strawberry Sour on tap - possibly timed to coincide with next week's Imperial IPA launch.

Slow News Week

Some quite weird media coverage ensued earlier this week after something unpleasant (but not that unusual) happened to us and we reacted exactly the way we promised to when we put warning signs - two of them - in our porch.

Now it seems to be accepted that a business in central Wellington can expect to suffer property damage, tagging, defilement, theft and whatever other unspeakable offences our security camera has had to witness. And for some reason it is also accepted that all these offences are to be tolerated in silence. Quite why the rights of vandals, thieves and the paralytically drunk are so sacred is a bit of a mystery. But we've built our business on being true to our own values rather than anyone else's, so this week, as promised, we used about the only weapon at our disposal - information - to defend ourselves.

So when the sniggering and hand-wringing are over we hope that you will understand why we will continue to use words, pictures and other non-lethal means to protect our premises, our staff, our customers and everyone's property.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

February 14, 2013

Local Beer! In Bottles!... Music... New Release Tuesday... Returning to our Food Menu... On Tap Now or Soon...

Local Beer! In Bottles!

Normally a couple of local beers making it into bottles would be good news, but not earth-shattering. But there's something particularly satisfying about some of our latest arrivals.

First, as predicted last week, the first ever large batch of Liberty C!tra Imperial IPA finally got packaged on Monday of this week, and we snuck a few bottles onto the premises yesterday. If there was a way to measure and collate the levels of unsatisfied demand in the market for various beers, then C!tra would score highest. But perhaps no longer. With a batch that is ten times the size of any previous one, supplies should last a while. Or will they?

For months the words "line" and "bottling" used together ran the risk of triggering an outbreak of Tourette's Syndrome at ParrotDog brewery. But no longer. The Matts appear to have tamed the Iron Serpent that is their Chinese bottling plant and case after case of BloodHound, DeadCanary and BitterBitch have rolled off the production line in the last week or two. One of two have even found their way into our fridge. But don't be surprised to see them appearing at supermarkets, bottle stores and dairies in the coming weeks and months.


This Saturday in our usual 10pm slot the Nigel Patterson Trio return for more from the "edgier side of jazz".

Then next week comes a whole new scenario for us as we become a Fringe Festival venue. The show is Adam Page and James Nokise's show We Built This City. Every night from Monday (Feb 18) at 9pm they'll perform their reinterpretation of the history of '80s music.

There will be no tickets available in advance for the show and it will be very much a case of the performers turning up and getting on with it, as it were, in our lounge. We're assured that the set up for each show will be minimal and all that will be asked of the audience will be to consider contributing a koha at some point during the show. So in a way it will almost be as if they aren't there and regular customers needn't be concerned. But we encourage everyone to come along and be entertained by our favourite multi-instrumental bearded former South Australian.

We Built This City will finish its run on Saturday 23 when it will be followed by a gig by Darren Watson's Underground Blues Band, in a memorable marathon of great local music.

New Release Tuesday

In defiance of the current unseasonally summer-like weather, we're going for a true winter beer next week. So yes, if it suddenly turns cool, blame us. We are in possession of a keg of Mikkeller Weizenbock which we understand to be the first and only ever brought to New Zealand, so it gets the treatment next Tuesday.

But if a big, warming, dark, strong wheat beer isn't for you, we may just have a pretty funky alternative. It is highly likely that by next Tuesday we'll have our hands on a small shipment (in bottles only) of a bacon and maple infused beer. Intrigued? You should be.

By the way, this week's new release - De Molen Amarillo Imperial IPA - was undermined somewhat by a faulty keg. We worked around the issue and the beer did make it on eventually, is still on tap and is rather good. "Caramalised peaches" was a pretty fair description.

Returning to our Food Menu

In the next day or so, and in a slightly different form and from a new supplier, look for dumplings returning to the menu.

On Tap Now or Soon

Some randomly selected highlights....

From Four Avenues, the new brewing operation emerging from within Pomeroy's in Christchurch, comes a new, sessionable, English Pale Ale.

A small keg of Garage Project's Bourbon Barrel-Aged Lord Cockswain's Courage was left over after Wellington Anniversary Weekend and it just snuck onto one of our lines.

Any new beer from Golden Bear is worth celebrating and we've an Oatmeal Stout to try out.

And we've found another keg of Liberty's staggering Burning Evil Monster - the batch of Yakima Monster brewed with only half the normal amount of that key ingredient, water.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

February 7, 2013

Last Week... New Release Tuesday... Carlos Navae... C!tra...

Last Week

Last week's edition of this email had a higher read count than any previous week. This would appear to indicate that a few people forwarded it around. Did we say something controversial?

Speaking of last week and controversy, here's some news that may surprise a few. For three years we've tried to persuade our regular customers to patronise our business over Sevens weekend (or "Munter Halloween" as it has become known) while trying to persuade "irregular" customers to stay away. After last weekend it's clear there's no point. When you combine the reduction in trade with the increased stress on our staff, property damage suffered, increased security costs and above all the feral behaviour visited on us no matter what we do to keep it out we really are better off closing our doors. Considering that we make a point of staying open on days when others don't bother, such as Boxing Day and New Year's Day, it takes a lot to rob us of the desire to open for business. But that's what Munter Halloween does.

So next Munter Halloween we'll be recommending that Wellingtonians do as we will:- bolt the door and get out of town.

New Release Tuesday

Next week we return to the fertile ground that is the catalogue of Dutch brewer De Molen, this time to try their Amarillo Imperial IPA. This comes with a pretty big reputation and stylistically should be right in the sweet spot for many of our customers, not to mention staff. And there's just the one 30L keg, so we recommend not waiting to see if it lasts until Wednesday.

As usual our new release will go on tap at the user friendly time of 5pm on Tuesday.

Carlos Navae

After a suspiciously long absence the Mexican born and raised singer and guitarist returns on Saturday evening. The Latin entertainment starts at 10pm in the lounge.

Now is probably a good time to remind you that as well as our usual Saturday night musical performances, we're branching out during the week of February 18-23 (Monday - Saturday) and hosting a fringe show. It doesn't mean we'll suddenly become a temporary theatre, simply that at 9pm each night our lounge will host Adam Page and James Nicoise performing We Built This City, their re-telling of the history of 80s music. Admission is by koha, or, for some of you, free!

On Saturday the 23rd this all adds up to a pretty heady lineup with We Built This City at 9pm, followed by Darren Watson's Underground Blues Band.


It's been a long time between drinks but it's likely that Liberty C!tra will be back next week. This time it will be in same 500ml bottle that Liberty's three previous large scale batches (Yakima Monster, Yakima Scarlet and Alpha Dogg) have gone into.

Finally, participants in the world's hippest industry conference will no doubt be looking for a bar with complimentary wifi and a 21st century internet connection next week. And to make Web Stock attendees even more at home, we look forward to securing some of Garage Project's contribution to Web Stock - a beer they're calling API. Maybe we'll get in special glasses to serve them in.