Monday, December 29, 2014

December 29th, 2014

A Modern Times Eve

Every year at this time Wellington becomes a ghost town. To help prove this point, I was in Christchurch last Wednesday enjoying the breweries of Woolston. I tried writing up this email, but the real ales of Cassels and Twisted Hop demanded my attention.

This means I can now announce our plans for new year's eve - so they'll be fresh in your mind two days from now.

Modern Times is a brewery I fell in love with during my visit to San Diego. I love that their core range is not your standard 'lager, pale ale, IPA, and something dark', but consists of a red IPA, hoppy wheat, saison and coffee stout.

All of their core range beers are flawless examples of their styles, so I sent Steve at Beer Without Borders a picture of their cans, insisting they import them. He promptly sent me back a picture of the same cans in the BwB coolstore - coincidentally they'd just received samples.

Luckily they were just as impressed as I was, and the first shipment from Modern Times arrived just before Christmas.
I documented this night with more detail in issue 12 of BorderPost.

We're launching Modern Times core range on new year's eve, this Wednesday.

On tap will be:

  • Fortunate Islands: Hoppy Citrusy Wheat 
  • Blazing World: Hoppy Dank Amber 
  • Black House: Roasty Coffee  Stout 
  • Lomaland: Bright Rustic Saison

If you'd like to have a try of each of these amazing beers to help ring in the new year, we'll be offering a 'four trip ticket' of sorts. This will get you a fancy of each Modern Times tap beer for just $35. That's even slightly better than SOBA discount.
Also, just for fun we'll also have Almanac Bourbon Sour Porter on tap - the last keg in NZ. Because why not?

Stomping in the New Year

New year's eve won't just be about the beer, we've managed to secure the talents of Black Spider Stomp to add to the atmosphere of the night.
They'll be playing adding to the atmosphere from 10pm with their Gypsy Jazz Fusion. And of course, this will cost you nothing.

More Modern Times

While we're on the Modern Times bandwagon, we might as well round it off with a Bottle Pour Saturday of the seasonal beer we're also getting from them.Aurora is one of very few beers from Modern Times that gets the bottle treatment (although it is due to be released in cans in 2015). It is a red rye IPA, weighing in at 6.8% and "loaded with Equinox, Centennial, Motueka, and Experimental Hop 07270."

This Saturday we'll be serving 200ml pours of Aurora for $8.50.

Double Drums

Nick Granville has invited a few friends to have some fun in our lounge this Saturday.
He'll be joined by Nick Tipping on bass, while both Reuben Bradley and John Rae play the drums.
I'm not entirely sure how two drum sets will fit in our wee lounge - but we'll make it work! The double drum funk starts at 10pm this Saturday, and is free for all.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

December 18th, 2014

Kegs for Christmas

For the last two years we've collaborated with Garage Project to raise money for charity leading up to Christmas.

Basically Garage Project donate a keg to us, we sell the keg and donate all proceeds to a charity.

This year Garage Project have raised the bar and are expanding kegs for Christmas to "12 Kegs of Christmas."

Twelve Wellington beer bars are participating in the event tomorrow, with each bar hosting a different Garage Project Keg, whose proceeds will be donated to food charity Kaibosh.

We've drawn the recently re-released Summer Sommer as our charity beer. anyone buying a pint of this pohutukawa honey infused golden ale will essentially be making a donation to Kaibosh.

So from opening tomorrow you'll be able to come and get in the charitable spirit by drinking a pint.

Legendary Trio

Anyone who attended the Pacific Beer Expo after party will remember the amazing band Spitfire.

They entertained an enthusiastic crowd with unique and jazzy versions of a diverse array of music from Katy Perry & Brittany Spears to Star Wars classics.

Spitfire consists of the well known Ed Zucullo, Myele Manzanza and Justin 'Firefly' Clarke.
The fun kicks off at 10pm Saturday, and is free as always.

Sort-of-New Release Tuesday

As we approach the end of the year the new beers at our disposal tend to dry up a little bit.

We're stretching the definition of 'new' this Tuesday, with a beer you may recognise from PBE.

Ryan of Beer Without Borders fame traveled to Christchurch a couple of months ago, and put down a unique collaboration with Twisted Hop. It's full name is: Tears... In Rain Vol. 1: Glitter in the Dark.

After brewday no one really knew what style this menagerie of malt and hops was going to fit into.

After tasting it for the first time it was clear that this was the most confusing beer in the world. But it was great.
We tried and fit this bizarre beer into a pre-defined slot, but it was a lost cause. In the end Ryan created a new style just for this beer: "Ameribelgian Scotchbock IPA."

We served Glitter in the Dark at PBE from a cask in the British style, as most of the batch went into casks for a 'less cold, less fizzy' serving. A few small kegs were also filled and carbonated for the more familiar 'cold and fizzy' serving style. We'll be tapping one of these rare kegs on Tuesday at 5pm. Come find out what the hell an Ameribelgian Scotchbock IPA tastes like. Bonus points if you get the film reference in the name.

Blended Weasels

This Saturday we'll be serving two types of blended weasel by the glass.

Mikkeller has teamed up with fellow Danish brewer Amager to create a monster blend of an imperial Stout: H.R. Fredriksen Væsel Brunch.Unsurprisingly, it's a blend of Amager’s H.R. Fredriksen Imperial Stout, and Mikkeller’s Beer Geek Brunch Weasel Coffee Imperial Stout. They also threw some in Bourbon Barrels, as you do in Denmark.

We thought it might be interesting to see how the bourbon version compares to the standard version of this 10.7% imperial stout.
So this Saturday we’ll be pouring 125ml glasses of both the standard and bourbon versions for $8.

Fill ya Boot

Every year around Christmas we get requests from customers to buy beer in bulk for their festivities. In the past we've sorted these out on a case-by-case (get it?) basis, but that was before our wholesale subsidiary Beer Without Borders existed.
The guys up the road have managed to obtain a special license from the council to sell cases of beer directly from their coolstore at 24 Abel Smith St on this Saturday 20th of December only.

The cool store is just across the road from plumbing world, next to the Smith & Smith glass.

Here's a FAQ from the last Border Post to answer the quesions you're bound to have:

To be clear to everyone interested, here is a little FAQ about what will go on on the 20th.
  • What’s it all about? This is an experiment in beer retailing, based on our observation that we get a lot of requests to sell people good beer by the case in the run-up to Christmas.
  • Will there be samples? No.
  • Will there be spectacular discounts? Hmm... depends on your point of view. We’re in a position to find some middle ground between wholesale and retail pricing. Given that most liquor retailers aren’t making the kinds of margins that you might think, these differences may or may not get you excited.
  • What will be for sale? Potentially anything in our rather large portfolio. But we’ll present a short list that we think will interest people the most.
  • Will it be cases only? No, we’ll offer half cases, with the condition that you buy two half cases of products that come in the same format… so imagine your two favourite IPAs just there, together in the same carton looking up at you, asking you to take them home for Christmas….
  • When and where? At our Wellington warehouse at 24 Abel Smith St, Wellington, from 1pm to 5pm. We have quite a large forecourt, so you can drive up, park and walk on up to our desk, where we’ll take your order then duck into the cool store to collect it.
  • Will we tidy the forecourt first? Probably.
  • Will there be eftpos? Yes.
  • Will there be anything else for sale? Yes, a little… some fantastic glassware, reusable 20L pubkeg outer shells (hundreds of potential uses) and one or two other goodies that will make perfect Christmas gifts for the beer geek in your life. And if they're back from the printer we'll have copies of the 2015 Craft Beer Calendar for sale.

A Run of Sours

I love my sour beers, so I'm pretty excited about a few beers we've got lined up to come on tap soon.
8 Wired Rastafari Unchained is the first in the run, and should make it on tap tonight. It'll be followed by the sour brown ale also from 8 Wired; Rewired Unchained.

The third in line was a bit of a surprise for us, when we uncovered a keg of Good George Gose up at the cool store.
This one was brewed as a festive beer for Beervana, in the uniquely salty Gose Style.

It's made with lime zest & juice, horopito and Marlborough sea salt and fermented with both their house ale yeast and the souring bacteria Lactobacillus.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

December 11th, 2014

Japan vs NZ: Witbier Battle

Back in October Bryan Baird, head brewer of Japan’s Baird Brewing, visited New Zealand. If you went to PBE you probably saw his fascinating seminar. But Bryan wasn't here just for PBE, he also came over to brew a special beer with Hallertau.

Aucklands renowned Masu restaurant has been a huge supporter of Baird in New Zealand, and as such wanted a special Baird beer to celebrate their first birthday.
Instead of importing all that heavy beer, they opted to import the brewer.

The result of the collaboration is Haru Orchard Ale, a Belgian style witbier made using only NZ ingredients. These include raw wheat, NZ barley, sour malt, NZ hops and infused with grapefruit peel.
I thought this would make a great candidate for this weekend's bottle pour, but wanted to jazz it up a bit with a counterpart.

I browsed the Beer Without Borders catalogue, and saw a beer I've not heard of before: Japan Tale Ale.
A bit of research revealed that Japan Tale Ale is a perfect companion to Haru Orchard Ale, in that it is a wheat beer that uses very Japanese ingredients: Japanese wheat, korizato sugar and ume plums (usually used in plum wine).

Reportedly the final product is "lightly hopped, highly attenuated, pleasantly tart and extremely refreshing."

Pop on down this Saturday afternoon to grab a 250ml pour of either of these two interesting wheat beers for just $9.

King Kreabsley And The Fernets

We have another new act to entertain you this weekend, in the form of King Kreabsley and the Fernets.
Consisting of "the young lion of the Welly city Mambo-Jazz guitar scene," Paul James, and "fresh faced skins man" Cory Champster, under the strict, and truth be told, somewhat capriciously stochastic guidance of the Solid Statesman of that Nu Jazz Sound Kristofer "King" Kreabsley."

Come enjoy their organ funk from 10pm Saturday, which is free as always.

Melbourne Jukebox

Melbourne’s famously off-beat brewers Moon Dog, have made a not so off-beat beer.
Jukebox Hero IPA is a gimmick free, American Style IPA made with Warrior, Cascade, Amarillo & Centennial that weighs in at a standard 7% ABV.
However, the brewers still seem just as excited in their description:

If you'd like to think up your own Jukebox Hero related alliteration, it will be on tap from 5pm Tuesday.

Completely Unrelated to Christmas

We finally got our voucher redesigned to convenient business card size, they are now available over the bar in multiples of $10.
We think they really come into their own when put in a Coronado beer goblet ($10), or Spiegelau Rogue stout glass ($15). Or both.
You could even wrap them in colourful paper and give them to someone on the 25th of December if you felt like it.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

December 4th, 2014

Komugi no Wain

Baird's annual wheat wine, descriptively named West Coast Wheat Wine (WCWW), was released in Japan on November 1st.

Wheat wines are an interesting and versatile style of beer. They tend to be a lot hoppier than their English barley wine cousins, which makes them more suitable to drink fresh. But their high ABV and big malt character makes them suitable for aging as well.

This Tuesday we'll be testing the drinkability of a fresh wheat wine, as Beer Without Borders has secured keg stock of this year's WCWW vintage.
It's been a while since we've had WCWW, so I won't try and describe it from memory. Best leave that up to brewer Bryan Baird:

"A Wheat Wine, generally, is characterized by a rich and hearty complexity that is lightened and made a touch sprite by a predominantly wheat, rather than barley, grain base. It is a style representative of the irreverent creativity and unrelenting passion that are hallmarks of craft brewing on the West Coast of the United States. "

It is hopped with 80IBU worth of whole cone Warrior, Citra, Galena and Centennial which should still be quite prominient in the beer. West Coast Wheat Wine weighs in at 10% ABV, so we'll only be offering it in fancies. Come have a taste from 5pm Tuesday.

New Band, Old Faces

On Saturday night Son Asere will be serving up delicious Cuban/Mexican fusion - for your ears.

The band is new to the HZ lounge, but its members should be familiar names: Roberto Rodriguez (Cuba), Rafael Ferrer (Cuba) and Carlos Navae (Mexico).

They’ll be playing their wide repertoire featuring classics from Cuba and Latin America. The music starts at 10pm and is free as always.

Punkin Pie Wine

Earlier in the week a regular customer asked whether we had Almanac's Heirloom Pumpkin Barley Wine in stock. He'd seen in Beer Without Borders excellent fortnightly newsletter, Border Post (sign up here).

We had quickly snapped up Almanac's sour pumpkin beer, but it seems their 12% pumpkin beast had slipped our minds.
After the reminder I quickly looked up the beer online, after reading a description I thought "shit, I'd like to try that."
So it is by complete coincidence that this beer just happens to be this Saturday's bottle pour...

Heirloom Pumpkin Barley Wine is made with 1000 pounds of organic heirloom pumpkins and the obligitory pumpkin pie spices. Half is then aged in brandy barrels while the other half resides in the rye whisky barrels. After a year the barrels have imparted their flavours of brandy, rye, oak and vanilla and are blended to create the final bottled product.

This is one not to be missed, and on Saturday you'll be able to grab a 125ml pour for just $7. If you really like it you can even buy a whole bottle.

P.S. You can catch up on previous issues of Border Post here.

Some More Beers You Can Drink

Perth based Feral made quite impression last weekend, with their sour Berliner Weisse: Watermelon Warhead - so much so that it is now all gone.
But in its place is another, even sourer beer from Feral: Funky Junkie. We've been chatting to Australian beer lovers on the Twitters, who are considering flying over just to get some Funky Junkie. Apparently impossible to find even in its own country.

Hop heads will be happy to know Hallertau Stuntman IIPA is now on tap, and coming on sometime tonight Bayland's new batch of Rock Soild IPA, which will be followed by a fresh keg of Liberty Yakima Monster.

We've also just received the latest bottle release from NZ's smallest brewer Craftwork Poodlefaker Saison.
It's made using ginger and spices along with Southern Rata honey, to evoke christmas time in New Zealand. I think I'm going to crack one as soon as I hit send on this email.