Friday, September 27, 2013

September 26, 2013

Pacific Beer Expo Tickets... Double Newish Release Tuesday... Darren Watson... Old Dogs, New Bottles... On Tap Shortly...

Pacific Beer Expo Tickets

We can now announce that Pacific Beer Expo tickets are on sale. We've even been allowed to sell a few of them ourselves, which can be bought over the counter at the bar. Or you can get them from Ticketek here (or for mobiles here).

We can also start to reveal details of some of the beers we'll be serving. Last year shipping delays meant that beer from Singapore brewery Jungle didn't make it in time for the festival and we had to make do with serving them at the bar (and also taking some to the Great Kiwi Beer Festival in Christchurch). But Jungle's beers - or at least the slightly flamboyant styles that we've brought over - really belong in a festival. At the time of writing our order is closer to Wellington than it is to Singapore, so this year we're confident that we'll be serving some or all of their fruit-infused Tropical Wheat, Kiasu Stout, and the very intriguing sounding Nutmeg & Mace Steam Lager.

Here are the essential details about the 2013 Pacific Beer Expo:The 2013 instalment of Australasia’s most exclusive beer festival takes place on the Sunday of Labour Weekend at Wellington’s St James Theatre Gallery. Attendees will get to enjoy over thirty carefully selected beers from some of the Pacific Rim’s most highly regarded breweries. Look out for new releases and special one-off beers from some of New Zealand’s best breweries, plus rare or seasonal releases from breweries in Australia, Singapore and the United States. Ticket holders gain entry, a souvenir glass, a programme and plenty of tokens for food and drink to get you started. The event runs from 2pm until 7pm on October 27, 2013.

Double Newish Release Tuesday

This week we have not one but too typically unconventional beers from Garage Project. They were both tasted by a handful of people at the Yeast Feast, during Wellington On A Plate, so aren't strictly new, but we make the rules, thanks.

The first is called an "Egyptian" beer, in that it borrows certain techniques and ingredients that would have been used thousands of years ago. For instance there's honey, emmer wheat and the yeast was cultured from the skins of organic raisins and dates.

And from the same family of tiny batches made for Yeast Feast comes a "slightly sour" Flanders Red.

Garage Project Egyptian Beer and Flanders Red go on tap at 5pm on Tuesday. Stocks are very limited.

Darren's Back

Darren Watson and his Underground Blues Band are back on Saturday night. Judging by his recent facebook posts, following a certain early morning sporting event has taken an emotional toll on Darren, so he probably needs the catharsis that will come from a transcendent musical performance.

Our Saturday night gig starts at 10pm and there's no charge. Darren's gigs are usually pretty popular, so come early.

Old Dogs, New Bottles

It's a good week for interesting new bottle offerings from breweries with canine aspirations. First of all, arriving in our fridges on Friday or Monday will be the three latest bottlings from Melbourne's Moon Dog:

  • Jumping The Shark 2013 - Moon Dog's statement beer - a 15.5% Cognac barrel-aged truffled Imperial Stout, packaged in 375ml wax-dipped mini champagne bottles.
  • Mummy Have a Bite - an 8.2% "toffee apple beer" (red/amber ale aged in calvados barrels).
  • Bock Naked - a 7.7% chipotle'd dark lager.

Now that they have achieved complete domination over their difficult bottling plant, ParrotDog have branched out and started bottling a couple of their seasonals. The bottles have a different and much darker style of label that we think will look pretty striking on bar and supermarket shelves:

  • Otis Oatmeal Stout.
  • SleuthHound Scotch Ale.

As with the Moon Dog bottles, we hope to have these on the shelves on Friday evening, but it's in the hands of the freight companies.

On Tap Soon

Christmas is less than a year away, so what better time to enjoy the biggest of Nøgne Ø's three Christmas beers - God Jul. (Pronounced more like goo yule than gojjul.)

Lobethal Double Hop IPA (not actually an IIPA, just a beautifully hoppy IPA) will be on soon, possibly when the beer below runs out:

Waiting out the back is the final keg of the most recent batch of Sculpin IPA to be imported from and with the approval of the Ballast Point Brewing Company. Once it's gone have no fear - the odd keg of Big Eye IPA, Dorado IIPA and one or two others are still in the country. And we're expecting more goodies from Ballast Point in time for the Pacific Beer Expo.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

September 19, 2013

Debate Aftermath

Our Mayoral Candidates Debate took place last night. We're genuinely impressed at and thankful for the support that was shown for this event by the candidates, by our moderators and their helpers and by We're disappointed and a little embarrassed that all our hopes for streaming proceedings over the internet fell through due to technical problems. These will be corrected in any similar, future events.

All the feedback we've received has confirmed that the moderators did a great job, the candidates got their messages across and the whole thing was pretty informative. For anyone who missed out Wellingtonista have compiled the only thing better than a verbatim transcript.

In spite of the technical failings we're sufficiently encouraged by last night's proceedings to consider doing something similar again in future.

Beard Beer

At the risk of drawing attention to the fact that a high proportion of our staff and customers struggle with finding razors, we take pleasure in bringing our customers the long awaited Rogue Beard Beer.

Clearly this is a beer that confuses people and causes a little discomfort. The story is that Rogue brewery were looking for yeasts that may have evolved spontaneously in or around the brewery; and as an afterthought, or maybe just a joke, they tested hairs from the beard of brewer John Maier. It turned out that the only viable brewing yeast they identified was from Maier's beard. calls the resulting beer an "American Wild Ale". But call it a "Belgian Ale". Maybe this says something about perceptions of hygiene around the world. Or maybe it's more to do with where John Maier had been holidaying. The surprising thing is that consumers are getting past the ick factor and are actually said to be enjoying Beard Beer.

We'll find out for ourselves tomorrow evening when New Zealand's first case of Beard Beer goes on sale.

New Release Tuesday

There are at least four commercial beers called Vuur & Vlam (Fire & Flame). About the same number as there are called Zombie Hopocalypse in fact, but probably less of a coincidence. We previously had a small amount of the beer by this name from Midtfyns Bryghus in Denmark. We now have what we suspect was the original from De Molen. (In fact this blog provides a likely explanation of the proliferations of Vuur & Vlams.)

So De Molen Vuur & Vlam, which is, by the way, an American IPA, goes on tap at 5pm on Tuesday.

Ramen Friday

We're onto a fortnightly cycle with Tsubasa and Asher from the Ramen Shop. They'll be back at noon tomorrow with supplies of their Ramen for lunchtime diners. They'll stay until interest and/or supplies dwindle - between one and two hours.

Saturday Music

Appearing this week in our Lounge are the Wellington City Shake 'Em On Downers. We say they're appearing in the Lounge but last time this heavily populated swing band appeared at Hashigo Zake they chose not to be confined by the four walls of the lounge and played en promenade.

The fun starts as usual at 10pm.


We've been fielding a lot of queries lately about the Pacific Beer Expo. There was a good reason for delaying any announcements - we've been working through the implications of a shift in venue from the Boatshed to the First Floor Gallery at the St James Theatre. It's a much bigger venue and it's only available to us on one day of Labour Weekend, which means that this year PBE takes place on one day only, Sunday October 27.

Tickets will go on sale early next week. As a condition of using the venue the ticket agent is going to be Ticketek.

This year's event will feature, as usual:

  • More geographic and stylistic variety and quality than any beer festival in New Zealand.
  • A number of beers that have never been available in New Zealand before.
  • High quality food.
  • A generous allocation of starting tokens for food and drink.

We can also make a few other firm promises about the 2013 Pacific Beer Expo:

  • No oompah music.
  • No-one (or no event staff at least) will be wearing lederhosen.
  • No $22,500 ratepayer subsidy.
  • The Pacific Beer Expo proudly remains, perhaps, the only beer festival held in New Zealand in October, that isn't called Oktoberfest.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

September 12, 2013

The Debate... Music This Saturday... New Release Tuesday... Ramen... On Tap Now or Soon...

The Debate

We're pleased to announce that Councillor Morrison has declared his availability and we now have a full complement of mayoral candidates coming along next Wednesday evening for our debate. So for the third and final time we invite readers of this email to propose questions (by replying to this email) that our moderators might put to the candidates next week.

The debate starts at 5:30pm on Wednesday in our lounge. We plan to mic the participants and broadcast proceedings throughout the bar. We encourage our regular customers to take this opportunity to participate in the democratic process by submitting questions and/or attending on Wednesday.

Speaking of the Wellington City Council, they (and we) were in the news earlier this week over modifications to their proposed local alcohol policy. The main reason we saw for relief was the apparent rejection of the "entertainment precinct" concept. For those who haven't heard, that proposal was that operators wanting to create a venue with a late licence would only be allowed to do so in parts of town that are already saturated with bars.

They also appear to have rejected the idea that those of you wanting to take home a bottle of exceptional beer from our selection would have to do so by 9pm.

What seems to have been overlooked by the media in the Council's revision of their own plans is that they have added a fleeting mention of large events and the Wellington Sevens. It doesn't say much but we're relieved to see a passing acknowledgement that there might be improvements in the way alcohol is used over the period of the Sevens. It probably won't be enough to persuade us to risk staying open on February the 7th and 8th next year, but it's a start.

Music This Saturday

We've another new (to us) act this week in a the form of Rhinoboogie, a four-piece side-project of local "hip-hop neo-soul chunk-funk" outfit Brockaflowersaurus-rex. We expect horns, drums and samples.

As always, music comes at no charge to customers and kicks off at 10pm.

New Release Tuesday

Next week's new release is another collaboration between a relatively new brewery and one of the country's most respected brewers. The new brewery is Taupo's Lakeman. The wise old head that assures us we're getting something good belongs to Graeme Mahy of 666.

So at 5pm next week we're putting the new Lakeman/666 IPA on tap - we believe for the first time in Wellington.


After two test runs with popup restaurant The Ramen Shop, they're happy, we're happy and there seemed to be quite a few happy customers as well. So we're taking our relationship to the next level and we don't care who knows.

The Ramen Shop will now be bringing their broth, pork, tofu and fresh noodles to Hashigo Zake once a fortnight for Friday lunches. This new arrangement starts next Friday (the 20th) and will run until Christmas.

On Tap Now or Soon

We're pretty impressed with our current lineup, if we may say so ourselves, with a local collab helped by a rockstar Californian brewery, an always popular staple from Green Flash, a rauchbier from upstarts Brewaucracy, a pilsner from next big thing Panhead and the experimental Screwtop on a hand pump.

But there's always room to tweak things, so look out for:

  • Baylands Brewery's Berry Brownie - the berry-infused brown ale that just about everyone reading it thinks is "Berry Brownlee" and some kind of reference to a certain politician. We're assured that no such connection was intended.
  • Liberty's 'Ow'd ye' like 'dem Apples, the beer made without yeast or water, unless you count wild yeast and apple juice.
  • Christchurch's Wigram Brewery have a Hefeweizen and it's time it had a turn on our wheat beer tap.
  • Coronado's citrus peel-infused IPA known as Frog's Breath.

Oh and bottles of Ben Middlemiss's Nota Bene and Baird Red Rose Amber Ale are back in stock.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

September 5, 2013

May Or Rill Candidates Debate... Degustation Dinners... Ramen Returns... On Tap Now or Soon... Finally...

May Or Rill Candidates Debate

Save the date - September 18. At the office worker-friendly time of 5:30pm, Wellington's mayoral candidates and the city's best informed voters will squeeze into our lounge to listen and watch as a few truths about those candidates are systematically exposed. That is all the mayoral candidates except the one to whom invitations seem as ephemeral and inconsequential as the "autumn leaves" that his left-arm orthodox spin used to be known as.

We've appointed (well, begged) journalists Hadyn Green and Megan Whelan to be moderators for the debate. They'll pass on questions from readers of this email (yes, that's an invitation to submit questions), ruthlessly stamp out obfuscation, pivoting and bridging, keep candidates on topic and expose all the vital differences in their platforms.

So we're doing our best to make it easy for voters to actually participate in what passes for democracy. Please don't write local body politics off as unimportant and consider submitting questions and coming along on the 18th.

Degustation Dinners

Just a few tickets remain for next week's collaborative dinner with Big Bad Wolf. So there's little point elaborating.

Slightly more remain for next month's event at Tatsushi. The previous season of this dinner was an enormous success. This time the meal and drinks will be similar but a little different. Wellington's foremost expert in the art of matching beer with Japanese food will be running proceedings. (That's our Shiggy for those who don't realise.) Tickets are on sale now at the Cult Beer Store.

Ramen Returns

Another different but special opportunity to eat Japanese food is making a return. The Ramen Shop - popup ramen restaurant - returns to our kitchen this Friday lunchtime. That would be tomorrow - or if you were away today, last week.

When the Ramen Shop came along a few weeks ago they brought limited supplies and ran out of food within about an hour of kick-off, which was at noon. They'll be bringing double the supplies this time, but again it will pay to get in quick.

On Tap Now or Soon

It's time to get some iconic American IPAs back on tap. So look out for our old friend Big Eye from Ballast Point some time in the next few days. Likewise Southern Tier IPA. Oh, and Green Flash West Coast IPA is on tap right now.

From Wellington breweries, we'll be pouring Garage Project's Trip Hop and Pils 'n Thrills, ParrotDog's Dead Canary (on now) and Panhead's Port Road Pils. Oh and Garage Project's Extraordinary Ordinary will be back on the hand pump.

Having drained a two year old keg from the first ever batch of 8 Wired iStout we now have a more recent keg of the same beer.

It's time we dipped into our recent shipment of kegs from Adelaide's Lobethal, so it's going to be great to welcome back their amazing Chocolate Stout - which incidentally has absolutely no cocoa added, just some really carefully chosen malts. Speaking of Lobethal, see below!

Lastly... *Cult Beer Alert* Invercargill Smoking Bishop is on tap now!

New Release Tuesday

Last month's Lobethal shipment included a couple of new (to us) beers, including the brewery's Pale Ale. As Yeastie Boys will attest, Lobethal is one of the great unsung heroes of Australian brewing. Their consistency is amazing but for the most part they quietly plug away in their Adelaide Hills retreat, making great beer that's mostly consumed at their own bar (and at Adelaide's Wheatsheaf Hotel).

As a consequence of Yeastie Boys' collaboration with Lobethal, we got the chance to bring an order of kegged Lobethal beer across the Tasman.

Lobethal Pale Ale goes on tap at 5pm on Tuesday.


Is there much significance in a fourth birthday? Perhaps - if you were given a life expectancy of a few months. So for anyone who worries about these things, we turn four on Tuesday. We'll wait another year to really make a song and dance.