Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 27, 2013

Frog's Breath... SOBA Winter Ale Festival... Craft Beer College Exam... Weekend Music... Fourth of July... Next Tuesday's New Release... This Weekend's Charcuterie Tasting...

Frog's Breath

A year ago a slightly unusual beer snuck onto our shelves - Frog's Breath was then a new beer from San Diego's Coronado. It was a 6.5% IPA with the rind of limes, oranges and lemons added to the boil. The result was a beer many of us thought was absolutely delicious, even if it had more sediment than just about any commercial beer.

The second ever batch of Frog's Breath is back in 2013 and we've snapped up an extra large order of it. It will make an appearance on tap and we'll be waiting nervously to see what becomes of all that pith when it's poured from a keg.

For those wondering, the name is a reference to the beer's origin as a home brew developed by two former navy frogmen.

SOBA Winter Ale Festival

The SOBA Winter Ale Festival, also known occasionally as "Matariki", is back in 2013 after an extended search for a new date and venue. That venue is the Hunter Lounge at Victoria University and the date is Saturday July 20. This event sold out easily in 2011 and 2012 and is an incredibly popular get-together for Wellington's community of beer lovers. But then the readers of this email probably already know that.

Tickets are at SOBA's website.

Craft Beer College Exam

Craft Beer College's 2013 curriculum comes to a close with the world's least demanding exam on Saturday July 13. That is to say it's undemanding unless you're keen on taking home some fairly desirable prizes, in which case it might actually be a little competitive.

Participants in the tastings they've been running might be at a slight advantage, but the event is open to all. To join in, get in touch with CBC by email.

Weekend Music

It's a rare double header this weekend and both acts are heavy hitters. First on Friday it's a rare appearance by the one and only Adam Page and the Counts. Adam will be joined by regular collaborator Riki Gooch and Phoenix Foundation's Tom Callwood.

To reinforce just how funk-forward tomorrow evening will be, we've dubbed it Fat Funk Friday and will be encouraging all present to partake of some Funk Estate Oh Lordy!

Then on Saturday night it's the turn of a man who can play the blues with absolute credibility even when he's right in front of an air conditioner. That would be Darren Watson and his Underground Blues Band.

And what would you expect to pay for not one but two nights of amazing live entertainment in the same underground lounge? That's right $0.

Fourth of July

It's seven days until American Independence Day, which is quickly turning into the unofficial, worldwide day of celebration of US craft beer. This year we're not only raiding our keg store, we're also fast-tracking the arrival and distribution of orders of beer from multiple US breweries so we can line up a whole eight taps of American beer.

We've already announced that we'll have Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA (as discussed last week) and Coronado Frog's Breath IPA (see above). We can also announce that we'll have Rogue Shakespeare Stout on tap, which isn't completely new, except that this keg will be nitrogenated and so will be poured with the famously silky texture of a nitro stout.

Remaining details will be liberated independently between now and July the 4th, but will include some pretty amazing returning favourites.

We're also going to try something pretty revolutionary (for us) in the way of food, with American-style barbecue being prepared by Three Little Pigs just outside our premises and for sale to our customers.

Next Tuesday's New Release

Next week it's another one-off keg from Left Coast that's particularly fitting for the middle of winter. This time it's their Oatmeal Stout. We aren't spoiled with information on this beer, but have reason to believe that it's also known as Zombified. It will be on tap from 5pm on Tuesday.

This Weekend's Charcuterie Tasting

This Sunday our second ever Charcuterie Tasting, in collaboration with Big Bad Wolf, takes place in our lounge. We were afraid that we might be forced to postpone as Big Bad Wolf have been closed for a couple of weeks after a nasty refrigeration failure. But we've been assured that we're all good to go on Sunday afternoon. (This event is sold out.)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

June 20, 2013

Glassware, Part 2... Who's Your Big Daddy?... Sunturnday... On Tap Now or Soon... Funk 1... Funk 2... New From Liberty...

Glassware, Part 2

Last week we wasted minutes of your and our time explaining why we settled on the glassware that we did, some three years and ten months ago. This time we actually have something new to reveal.

For smaller servings of tap beer, we've always used stemmed glasses of one or two varieties. They hold a little over 300mls. They're ok - maybe even slightly better than ok. We probably would have gone on using them, if it weren't for a fact-finding expedition to Adelaide's famous Wheatsheaf Hotel last month.

Now we've been hearing about the Wheatsheaf for a while - from such credible sources as Adam Page, Yeastie Boys' Stu McKinlay and Lobethal Brewery's Alistair Turnbull. And our delegation wasn't disappointed - the Wheatsheaf is a magnificent bar in more ways than one. It seems to be comfortably the most important venue for interesting beer in Adelaide, as well as being a great band venue and a big old neighbourhood pub.

Some years ago the Wheatsheaf took the dramatic step of investing in glassware from the German producer Spiegelau. Referred to there as "Fancies" these were the kind of glasses that we would admire but generally dismiss as being far too fancy and delicate for a bar. They are made of relatively fine crystal, are pleasant to hold and have a tulip shape that makes it easy to savour aromas, provided they aren't filled to the top. But there they were, in use and surviving the rigours of daily use in a noisy Adelaide pub.

On the premise that if you're going to steal, steal from the best, we're unashamedly copying the Wheatie and have invested in our own supply of Fancies. And they replace our old stems today.

Our Fancies have come with 300ml fill lines marked on them, so we'll be intentionally leaving a gap at the top when pouring them. No doubt that will upset a few. But for anyone hoping to really savour their beer and not afraid of ordering slightly less at a time, we encourage you to try drinking from a Fancy.

Who's Your Big Daddy?

It is with great pleasure that we announce that we'll soon be stocking the beers of celebrated San Francisco brewery Speakeasy. We'll not only be serving them here at Hashigo Zake but making them available to our wholesale customers around the country. So feel free to have a word with your dairy owner.

At a time when our decadent, pinky-out, IPA-sipping ways are threatened by a resurgent neo-prohibitionist movement, it's refreshing to bring the products of a brewery whose branding mocks an era of prohibition. Who knows, if the Wellington City Council's draft Local Alcohol Policy is as much of an assault on the hospitality industry as some claim, every Wellington bar wanting to continue trading may have to convert to an unlicensed speakeasy.

Speakeasy's flagship beer is a classic American IPA known as Big Daddy. Kegs of this beer are halfway across the Pacific right now and we're going to be scrambling to get it on tap at Hashigo Zake and a few other bars around the country on the 4th of July.

Speaking of which, we look forward to revealing more about celebrations on the USA's national day between now and then.


Apparently in Norway, the winter solstice is called 'solsnu', or 'sun turning'. It's called that because of a belief that the sun was changing direction in its path around the earth. At least that's what Nøgne Ø's Kjetil Jikiun told us and he should know - as a former long haul airline pilot he probably watched it happen.

To celebrate this astronomical phenomenon, Nøgne Ø brew Sunturnbrew every (northern) winter solstice. It's a smoked barley wine - made with a decent proportion of peat-smoked malt.

We've been waiting for winter to put our first keg of this cult favourite on tap and what better day than the southern hemisphere's winter solstice. After a glass of this perhaps the sun will change direction. Or perhaps water will go down the plug-hole in a different direction.

On Tap Now or Soon

This Tuesday's new release was so good - and so popular - that we put a second keg on straight after the first. So Baylands Black IPA is still on tap.

We have a couple of rareties from Hamilton waiting to come on tap - Avarice IIPA from 666 and Bale Out from Brewaucracy. We've had Avarice before, although rumour has it that not everything went right with the previous batch and this one is promised to be on form. Bale Out is a hoppy American wheat ale.

ParrotDog's seasonal American IPA PitBull was a huge success when it came out late last year. So news that they've brewed another batch is welcome. Now it turns out that one last keg of the original batch has been unearthed. We'll have that on tap soon.

The Mussell Inn's contribution to the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular was Bush Baby. It's another variation on the great Captain Cooker - this time with kawakawa leaves and some rata honey in addition to manuka leaves. And it's good.

We have a keg of Garage Project's extremely successful California Common beer - California Über Alles. We're also getting a keg of their radical new Sauvin Nouveau - a highly hopped pilsner that also happens to have a good amount of Sauvignon Blanc juice blended in with the more conventional water.

We also have a keg of Schippers Chinook IPA, made with NZ grown chinook hops.

Funk 1

We've a mini-season of funk acts in the lounge. This Saturday local "surf funk" act, The Digg, appear for the first time.

Funk 2

Our first ever live musical performance was from Adam Page and the Counts. Adam and co are so in demand these days that there seems little chance of getting them back for the very Saturday night slot that they inaugurated back in late 2011. Instead we've managed to book them for a Friday, so we present Fat Funk Friday, next Friday the 28th.

To help the funk go down we're looking at some kind of a deal on selected Funk Estate bottles. More details close to the time.

New From Liberty

The first ever large batch of Liberty Darkest Days Oatmeal Stout left the brewery this week. We'll have bottles on sale today and probably on tap soon as well.

And Liberty is collaborating with Dragon's Fire Chillies again. For this year's Chilli Eating Contest they've produced a Bhutty Chocolate Stout - a chilli chocolate infused double stout. It's our new release at 5pm next Tuesday.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

June 13, 2013

Glassware, Part I.

Yes it's the news story of the year - Hashigo Zake's stunning two part exposé on the contentious subject of glassware for beer. Or maybe it's just a slow news day.

A man walks into a bar and ask for a pint of craft beer. Before he gets served three fights start - one over what a pint is, one over what craft beer is and one over why it has to be a man who walks into a bar.

Like craft beer, the pint is one of the most overused and misused terms in the lexicon of the beer drinker. Someone asking for a pint in New Zealand may end up with a vessel containing any amount between 330ml and 600ml. But unlike "craft beer", the pint at least has a strict definition. Or does it? For people with a certain accent a pint can only mean 20 fluid ounces or 568.261485 millilitres. (And oh, we live to hear that word "proper" used as a prefix for "pint".) A cursory glance at Wikipedia suggests that that the 20oz Imperial Pint is a modern innovation dating back to just 1824. Before that a pint was more often 16oz or 473 millilitres.

As it happens, that 16oz pint survives and is often known as the US pint. It's the standard serving size for beer in the US, which means when we pick up branded glassware from US breweries, they will typically be that volume. Interestingly when we acquire branded glassware from breweries in other countries they're often that size too, suggesting that the US pint is a kind of default serving size in the craft beer world. Whatever craft beer is.

Now back when Hashigo Zake opened we settled on the US pint as our standard "large" serving. We thought that the size is a sensible one. 473mls is a reasonably large serving, but we thought that serving 568mls at a time of beers between 5% and 8% ABV was irresponsible and expensive. And it means that we can swap in the branded glassware of our favourite breweries without having to agonise over the volume.

And by the way, yes we do intentionally understate the volume on our menu to allow for the beer's head.

We also like the aesthetic of the glass known as a "shaker". And for a busy bar they're quite practical. Not everyone agrees with us. We acknowledge that for the fussy drinker trying to savour and study their beer, this type of glass is not ideal. Which is why we have alternatives, of which we'll say more next week.

Now back in 2009 when we made our choice we were aware that some Wellington bars used glassware that resembles the US Pint glass discussed above, but wasn't quite the same. This happens in other parts of the world too, in same cases inciting claims of cheating. It turned out that our research was a little off. It's apparent that virtually every Wellington bar uses the "cheater pint", leaving us, poor, naïve fools, serving 12% more beer than everyone else without anyone realising.

It's obvious then what we need to do. We must immediately replace all our 473ml glasses with the more common 425ml glasses. Naturally we won't change our prices and only the handful still reading this will be aware, since the 425ml glass is so fiendishly, brilliantly deceptive.

As if.

So nothing to see here, move along, the status quo remains. Next week though we'll make an announcement about our glassware that will actually be new and interesting. Honest.

Meat Mania

Bookings for our encore tasting of pairings of Big Bad Wolf products and beer were coming along nicely. That is until a couple of days ago when, in a short space of time, all the remaining places got snapped up.

So we get the message - the demand for this event is far from satisfied. Now if we repeat the event once more in late July or early August we'll be running into the period around Beervana, the Brewers Guild Awards and even Wellington On A Plate. Which is probably what we'll do. Stay tuned.

On Tap Now or Soon

  • Can anyone spell C!tra? On tap now and about a third of a keg left.
  • There's a little of this week's new release, Left Coast Baltic Porter, left.
  • We have a keg of De Molen's coffee infused imperial stout Mout & Mocca coming on in a few days. It's in the 99th percentile on and the second to last reviewer said "This is an incredibly wonderful beer!". The most recent reviewer said "A harsh, sweet, boozy, dirty dark beer. Low drinkability". We like divisive beers. They're why we have more than one tap.
  • From Townshend we have his so-called India Pale Lager Scissor Jack.
  • And our old friend Coronado Idiot IPA is back.

Baylands Black IPA

New local brewery Baylands have made the first keg of their new Black IPA available to be our new release next week. Aidan is promising a complex beer with a cocktail of four American hops, many of them starting with "C".

Baylands Black IPA goes on tap at 5pm on Tuesday.

X-Ray Catz

Coinciding nicely with this weekend's Vintage-Orama festival, we have the X-Ray Catz playing in the lounge on Saturday night. We're back to the usual 10pm start but the non-existent cover charge is unchanged.

A Little Actual News

Following a hysterical plea (literally "Front up or be closed down") from the local branch of the Hospitality Association, Hashigo Zake today sent a delegation to a meeting at the Wellington City Council. The subject was the soon to be drafted Local Alcohol Policy. While the nature of the meeting bore little resemblance to what the Association implied, it was interesting to hear arguments from the likes of Police, the Retailers Association, assorted medical experts, hotel operators and of course our own local Hospitality Association.

One clear outcome of the recent debate on the alleged misuse of alcohol is that retailers and bars are in some kind of a battle to blame each other whenever anyone gets drunk. While Hospitality (and others) repeated the pre-loading/side-loading mantra, the representative of supermarket operators came up with a new platitude - "it's the last drink that matters". And it seems there must have been some kind of side bet among some of the speakers to see who could utter the word "vibrant" the most times in their allotted five minutes.

Most of the deliberations come down to what future constraints there will be on bar closing times in downtown Wellington. We believe that at Hashigo Zake we have little to worry about because we don't generally stay open as late as the times that are being discussed. However it does seem that the Hospitality Association are trying to persuade the Council to make official Courtenay Place's status as Wellington's nightlife ghetto, by allowing later closing times there. Since craft beer bars generally avoid Courtenay Place and the street remains in the grip of the big breweries it could mean that people wanting a drink late at night will be denied much in the way of choice. More disturbing is the lack of understanding that nightlife stays "vibrant" (word of the day) by regularly reinventing itself in new locations. Instead it seems that Wellington's bar culture will be mandated to remain penned in Courtenay Place. Oh dear.

Congratulations though to the mayor, who asked the best question of the day, to the police. The gist of it was: In rural areas where there's no particular nightlife, do people drink much? No answer was available.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

June 6, 2013

Baltic Porter - This Year's Saison?... All This Jazz... Big Bad Encore... Playoffs... On Tap Now or Soon...

Baltic Porter - This Year's Saison?

As brewers look for more ways to keep consumers intrigued that don't involve extreme innovation (or just extremes), is Baltic Porter the next style to come back into fashion? There seem to be a few more around all of a sudden, with local examples from Harrington's, Emerson's and Garage Project coming to mind.

To test the theory we're making Left Coast Baltic Porter our new release next Tuesday. It goes on tap at 5pm next Tuesday. It's our only keg of this one-off beer.

Here's's description of the style: The historical remnants of the 19th c. Baltic trade in imperial stouts, Baltic Porters are typically strong, sweet and bottom-fermented. They lack the powerful roast of an imperial stout, but have an intense malt character, and moderate to strong alcohol. Though they are typically lagers, there are a handful of top-fermented examples.

All This Jazz

The 2013 Wellington Jazz Festival kicks off this evening and runs until Saturday. We have live performances in our lounge every evening. Specifically:

  • Tonight from 9:30pm, it's drummer Roger Sellers.
  • Tomorrow from 10pm, it's chanteuse Tessa Q collaborating with the Nick Granville Trio.
  • Finally on Saturday, at the unusually late time of 11pm, it's the James Illingworth Trio.

Big Bad Encore

As promised, we're reprising our incredibly popular tasting of small goods from Big Bad Wolf matched with beers by our tastings dude, Sam. This time it's at the family-friendly time of 3pm on Sunday June 30. Bookings are essential and can be done over the bar or at our web store.


The finals series of the NHL and NBA are both a matter of days away. In fact, a glance at Sky's listings suggests that the first game of the NBA Finals clashes with an NHL Conference Finals match tomorrow afternoon. The thing is we're able and willing to screen these games. Where there's a clash we might have to go with popular demand. If you'd like to watch a game and the TVs are off, feel free to ask our bar staff.

On Tap Now or Soon

  • A rare keg of 666's Gabriel Pale Ale snuck onto the taps a couple of days ago.
  • The appalling weather on Tuesday and Wednesday meant that there is still some of this week's new release left - it's Bear Republic's Single Hop IPA called Rebellion. The single hop that Bear Republic use in this beer changes, but the kegs we got use Columbus.
  • Sticking with the Columbus hop theme, a keg of Mikkeller's Single Hop IPA using Columbus is coming too.
  • Left Coast Hop Juice will be back, having given up its spot to Rebellion back on Tuesday.
  • If the hop-addicted regular customers come to the party we might get to a keg of Liberty C!tra within the next seven days.
  • We've a keg of De Molen's string Belgian ale called Mooi & Meedogenloos. Interesting fact story: Mooi & Meedogenloos means Beautiful & Ruthless and was the Dutch name for the venerable American soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful.
  • For anyone a little traumatised by certain fictional events broadcast on Monday night, there could be some Townshend King's Landing Scotch Ale on tap soon to settle your nerves.