Thursday, January 29, 2015

January 29th, 2015

All New from Almanac

Almanac are probably best known for their seasonal sour and barrel aged beers. But the San Francisco brewer also has a year-round core range, the newest addition to which is Saison Dolores.

This is one of only few Almanac beers that dont spend time in a barrel, aiming for more of a "bright, aromatic brew for all seasons."

Dolores features a complex malt bill of various grains, and is (of course) dry hopped:

"We combine barley, rye and Sonoran Wheat grown in Mendocino County and ferment the beer with our house Saison yeast. Finally we dry hop it to create a California Saison with flavors of spicy white pepper, fruity melon and a clean food friendly finish."
Grab one of the first pints poured on the other side of the world this Tuesday at 5pm, when we tap the first keg.

George Round Two

A few weeks ago we cracked a few Calvados barrel aged Mikkeller George for you to try out.

This Saturday, we're cracking the brother of Calvados George: Cognac Barrel Aged George.
If you don't remember, George is an oily, pitch black 12.12%ABV
imperial stout. According to the bottle, this beer will punch you in the face. After tasting the Calvados version, I can confirm this.

According to people who have tasted the Cognac version on Ratebeer, the barrel imparts flavours of wood and dark fruit.

Make your own fancy tasting notes this Saturday, when we'll be pouring 100mls of Cognac George for $10.

'Ol King Cole

Ol' King Cole bring you the hits of the great Nat 'King' Cole and many other awesome artists of his era.
With Lou TM on keys/vox, Callum Allardice with guitar and Rob 'Bert Hendo' Henderson on double bass.

The music kicks off at 9.30pm Saturday, no door charge.

The 7's Session

Does the mere thought of the Wellington 7's make you cringe? Us too.
At this time every year Wellington is inundated with costumed idiots, who like to binge drink near some rugby games.
When we’ve opened during this time in the past, bar property and staff have come out much the worse for wear.

We also find that most of our usual customers (understandably) stay the hell away from the CBD.

The net effect is that our staff are put under a lot of stress, we need to repair various items and the bar takings are not sufficient to make all of this effort anywhere near worth it.

So nowadays instead of being open as usual, we think up a private event that customers wanting a pleasant idiot-free zone can come to.
Last year was X-Ale, this year is the 7’s Session.

If you’ve been to Santa Session, you’ll know how this works. We pull out bottle stock that is taking longer than it should to sell, and you get to enjoy it before it’s past best.
The 7's session will be like Santa Session, but you'll be able to choose from all of the beers available and have the entire bar to yourselves. You can relax, play cards or board games with friends, or even watch the rugby.

A ticket costs $40 and gets you a branded pint glass(yours to keep), and as many samples as is responsible.
We’ll have a special food menu available(beef chilli, vege chilli and special dumplings) , which will be available for purchase.

An extensive list of bottles will be available from the likes of Bear Republic, Green Flash, Bellerose, Baird, Nogne O, Almanac and more.

There will also be two taps to choose from, featuring some more sessionable beers.
The 7’s Session will run from 3pm-7pm
To keep the event civilised we're limiting tickets to just 40, so book your place at the bar or at soon.

(Super)Bowls of Chowder

America's biggest television event occurs on Monday, when Super Bowl XLXLCVXLX (or whatever it's up to) kicks off at midday.

We’re celebrating the big event with chowder and US beers.

Both Seattle (Seahawks) and New England (Patriots) are known for their chowder, so we’re makin’ some. On Monday lunchtime you can grab a bowl of chowder and a beer for each quarter for a special price (tbc).
We'll be opening a little early at 11.30am so you can grab a seat.


Social media was aflame yesterday when it came to light that IPONZ had once again approved a trademark on a beer style. This time, it's the term "Farmhouse."

Yep, somehow Tartan Bull Holdings' application to trademark Farmhouse slipped through IPONZ's net and the application was approved...
But luckily it was caught before it became 'registered', which would have happened on Friday.

Because it's still less than three months since the approval was published, SOBA was able to enter an opposition to the trademark ensuring it does not become registered. This was important to ensure, because once registered TM's are much harder to have revoked - as we saw with Radler.

Hopefully now the applicants will see sense and abandon their claim to Farmhouse, to leave it as a term for every New Zealand brewer and cider maker to use.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

January 22nd, 2015

Murray Meets a Pelican

Just when we thought we'd seen the last of Graeme Mahy's beer, a collab of his from the other side of the world crops up.

As I memtioned a few emails ago when I waxed lyrical about his beers, Graeme was behind Hamilton's 666 Brewing before being headhunted by Murray's in New South Wales.

It seems soon after taking his position as head brewer at Murray's, they decided to send him to Pacific City Oregon to collaborate with Pelican Brewing.

Pelican are no stranger to our taps. Beer Without Borders has managed to secure semi-regular supply of kegs and bottles as of late 2014. We've beome big fans of the subtle flavours and balance that make their beers great. Probably why they won champion small brewery at last year's World Beer Cup.

The beer these two masterful brewers created is Dubbel Trubbel, a 7.25%ABV Belgian-style dubbel.

According to the brewers:

"This Belgian-style Dubbel uses a complex and rich malt bill that packs a dual punch of dark caramel giving it a deep brown color with red highlights.
The soft malt notes are complemented by the use of the Belgian yeast that provides a full, fruity aroma and profile, laced with dried currants and dark chocolate.
This unfiltered version of this Belgian-style Dubbel uses only Oregon grown Santiam Hops and infuses dark Belgian candy syrup during the fermentation process resulting in a clean, dry, and highly drinkable ale."

Beer Without Borders only got a few kegs of this beer over, most of which are headed to Graeme's ex-home of Hamilton. I believe we've got the one remaining 20L keg lined up to be tapped at 5pm this coming Tuesday. Don't miss out.

Decadant Saturday

Beers like Pelican Mother of all Storms are the reason why we do bottle pour Saturdays.Mother of all Storms is a Kentucky Bourbon barrel aged version of Pelican's English barley wine Stormwatcher's Winterfest. The time spent in the barrel adds "deep flavors of toasted malt, bourbon and oak". It is released annually, and not much is made each year. And it costs a lot to make. And it's 13.5%ABV, attracting a large whack of excise tax upon arrival.
All of these reasons mean the beer usually costs $50 per 650ml bottle.

We realise that this is a lot, and means you're probably only going to be able to try it with a few mates to split it with. Which is where bottle pour Saturday comes in.

This Saturday we'll be serving 150ml pours of Mother of all Storms for $10. 
We've got bugger all of this beer, so pours will be limited.

The Hos Return

One of 2014's most memorable acts is returning to the HZ lounge this Saturday.
Reuben Bradley's Death Hos wowed audiences with their stretched apart and extemporised versions of classics from Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Steely Dan and Band of Gypsies.

With Daniel Hayles on Keys, Nick Tipping on Bass and Reuben Bradley on Drums.

They'll be playing in the lounge from 9.30pm this Saturday, with no cover charge.

Other Goodies

You might have guessed from all of the new Pelican beers that a new shipment from the west coast of America has arrived.
There are some more goodies from this shipment in the fridge and coming up on tap soon.

We've acquired 355ml bottles Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin, which was one of the most popular beers of PBE 2014.

In 650ml bottles from Pelican we've (obviously) got Mother of All Storms, and the beautifully balanced red IPA Red Lantern.

> Coming up on tap soon (probably tonight) is some super fresh Ballast Point Sculpin IPA fresh off the boat, to be followed by the World Beer Cup medal winner Pelican Silverspot IPA.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

January 15th, 2015

How I learned to stop worrying & love Wellington Anniversary Weekend

As announced last week, from tomorrow till Monday our taps will feature only local Wellington beer.
Now that most of the kegs are in the house, we can reveal more about what beers you'll be enjoying over the long weekend.

You may have seen a few Choice Bros beers on tap around town in the last few months. Brewer, beer lover, HZ regular and top chap Kerry Gray has been travelling around the bottom of the North Island brewing his beers on various small scale kits.

We'll have one of these small scale beers in the form of Harvest Moon Saison - which you may remember from PBE. This beer has been conditioning in our cold store since then and should have developed nicely.

Also on tap will be Choice Bros' first large scale batch - Modern Love - which was made at (NZ champion) Townshend Brewery in Nelson.

Modern love is described as a 'New World Ale' and features 45IBU of new world hops on a very English malt base.

Mount Cook's brand new collaborative brewer is almost up and running. It is shared between new brewers Tiamana and Wild & Woolly. Unfortuately Tiamana didn't have beer ready quite in time for our takeover, but Wild & Woolly will be on tap for the first time outside of a festival.

Their contribution is Wit the Feijoa!? a 5.5% witbier featuring the odd flavour and aroma of Feijoa, spiced with ginger and seasoned with Lime.

Garage Project will have strong showing, with two beers on tap and one on handpump during the four day takeover.

We were stoked to have a keg of the very new, yet very rare beer Touch Wood. Most of this batch was bottled in some of the most beautiful packaging I've seen (see pic), which guaranteed it was quickly snapped up by eager beer lovers. Less than 10 kegs were filled, so to have this 9% Elderflower & Honey Tripel on tap this weekend is very exciting. So much elderflower.

Also on tap for the hopheads will be Garagista IPA, and over on the less-cold less-fizzy handpump will be Cereal Milk Stout.

Some of the first beer from Baylands new Petone brewery will be on tap, namely Party Pils and Rock Solid IPA with Cracked Pipe Bitter and Enforcer Black IPA over on the pump.

Kereru's odd and savoury wheat beer Karengose will be tapped after Wild & Woolly's wit, while their wonderfully decadent Coconut Porter For Great Justice will be on over the whole weekend.

Also brewed at Kereru, but under a different label - the newest batch of North End Amber will be on handpump and is apparently resembling an English Bitter more than ever.

It may be brewed in Invercargill, but Yeastie Boys' spiritual home is definitely in Wellington. Stu has finally ventured into imperial IPA territory with the 2014 vintage of Her Majesty.
I'd tell you more about this beer but in their words:

"The world of Double IPA is a place where beer geeks wax lyrical over what hop varieties have been used, so we’ve kept them a secret for the first time ever."
Fair enough. Her Majesty should be one of the first to hit the taps tomorrow.
Last but not least, Panhead will be filling the gaps with the Wellington classics Supercharger APA and Port Road Pilsner.

Of course we can't fit all of these beers on tap at once, so we're counting on you to get through some of the initial kegs to get the rotation going.
The lineup turns Wellingtonian from opening at midday tomorrow, and stays that way till at least Monday.

Local Bottle Pour

We thought Saturday's bottle pour should reflect the local flavour of the weekend, so it was serendipitous that we saved a couple of cases of the renowned Panhead Black Sabbath up at the cool store.

This weekend seems better than any to unleash these on the public, so if you want to see how this oak aged black barley wine has aged we'll pour you a glass of it this Saturday.

It'll be $9 per 150ml pour, but due to limited stock there'll only be a few bottles to try.

Surf's Up

Vega and the boys are back with their hot blend of surf, funk, soul and blues. With Chris Armour, Andy Russel & Nick Lissette.
The music starts at the new earlier time of 9.30pm this Saturday and is free of charge, as always.

Staffie Series Returns

We kicked off the Staffie Series of beers in March last year, with my own Beetnik IPA. This was brewed out at Baylands Brewery, and proved quite popular.

Unfortunately (for us at least) Baylands then became incredibly busy, as Wellington beer drinkers discovered their excellent beers and demand went through the roof. So there was no room for our staffie series batches.
Then late last year The Occasional Brewer opened, as a facility that provides all you need to brew your own all-grain beer.

They also had the foresight to have the brewery declared a customs-controlled area, so prospective brewers can pay excise on their creations and legally sell them.

We jumped at the opportunity to restart Staffie Series with The Occasional Brewer team, and our duty manager and barperson Chris had a recipe ready to go.

Citron Fest Saison is designed to be a refreshing summery saison, featuring assertive lemon flavours. To infuse the citrusy goodness Chris added the zest of half a bag of lemons, and the super-lemony Sorachi Ace hops right at the end of the boil.

Chris chose Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast to ferment his creation, which is renowned for being an easy going yeast that makes beer dry as a bone.
Citron Fest finished at a very low gravity, meaning the yeast ate almost all of the available sugars. This also means the beer is 6.4% ABV.
The team at Occasional Brewer made this process incredibly smooth for us, and I recommend anyone who wants to have a go to contact them.

There was only 38L of Citron Fest made, so we expect it to run out quickly after it hits the taps at 5pm this Tuesday. Chris will be here to receive all of your praise/criticism - he'll be the tall Swedish viking with a saison in his hand.

Live from San Diego: Modern Times

Our most high tech tasting is scheduled to take place one week from now on Thursday Jan 22nd.

We'll be putting up a live video link to Modern Times brewery so one of their brewers can answer any and all questions you may have while sampling their range.
Book your place at cult beer store, for $40.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

January 8th, 2015


What's a Wadeorade? Well, I'm not entirely sure why Coronado have called their new white IPA Wadeorade. I'm sure there's a funny story behind it, but the only info I've been able to find on this beer is what went into it.

Coronado Wadeorade is a 6.1% IPA made with 38% wheat malt in the grist. This should give it bit of haze and body to back up the citrusy hop character provided by amarillo and citra.

This beer is exceedingly rare to find on tap, with only two kegs being imported to NZ, one of which will be tapped at the bar, 5pm Tuesday.

The NRT following this (on the 20th) is the second of our Staffie Series releases: Citron Fest Saison brewed by our very own duty manager and barperson Chris Hallberg. More on that next week...

Lounge Vocals

Our run of instrumental musical acts is about to be broken, when Lisa Tomlins takes the stage this Saturday.
Lisa is known for her soulful voice, and has worked with such acts as Fly My Pretties, Trinity Roots and Fat Freddy's Drop.
We're kicking off the music at the slightly earlier time of 9.30pm from now on, but the entertainment remains on Saturdays and is still free, as always.

Meet George

We recently (today) brought in another of Mikkeller's big ass imperial stouts, our first beer from the George series.
George started out as your standard 12.12% imperial stout, but then Mikkel decided to see how various barrels affected the flavour.

This Saturday you can try the Calvados barrel aged version of George, by the glass.

Calvados is a type of French apple brandy, and should impart another layer of complexity to this already massive beer. The label says it best:

“Ever been punched in the face by a beer? Our pal George offers anyone willing to try, a thick and oily fist right to the nose."
This special treatment does make the beer quite pricey, namely $25 for a 250ml bottle. This Saturday only, you'll be able to have a 100ml sample for $10.

Live from San Diego: Modern Times

Our first tasting for 2015 will feature the brewery we launched to ring in the new year: Modern Times.
We're trying something a little different with this one.

We've organised a video link to the brewery, so attendees can be taken through the Modern Times range by one of their brewing team. This will include their core range, as well as the seasonal red rye IPA Aurora. They'll also be the perfect person to ask any hard-hitting questions you've got about the Modern Times beers and brewery.

The tasting goes down on Thursday 22nd January, 6pm start. This works out as late evening the day before for our man in San Diego, so we'll only have him for around an hour.

After the Modern Times beers we'll showcase a few other San Diego breweries - namely Iron Fist, Karl Strauss and Coronado.

Book your place at cult beer store, for $40.

Absolutely Positively Tap Takeover

It's been amazing how much easier our Wellington anniversary weekend tap takeovers get each year. Wellington is becoming home to more new breweries every year, and from Friday the 16th till Monday the 19th our taps will feature some of the newest, smallest, coolest and most innovative brewers Wellington has to offer.
Expect newer names like Wild & Wooly, Choice Bros, North End and NineBarnyardOwls along with more established brewers like Garage Project, Panhead, Funk Estate, Kereru & Baylands.
We've already nailed down a couple of new releases and some stalwart classics, and we'll have all the details for you in next week's news.

Beers You Can Drink Now

We've got a few beers on tap that I'm extra stoked with at the moment. Almanac IPA is fresh off the boat and tasting amazing, although its neighbour Liberty Knife Party IPA gives it a run for its money.
On the weirder front, Good George's wonderfully intriguing Gose is still going right next to the massive Baylands Smoky & the Belgian. Smoky & the Belgian's combination of roasted malt and belgian yeast gives this pitch black imperial stout a huge amount of depth. Good for a night cap.

If you're after a real ale fix, both of our handpumps are currently cask conditioned: Townshend JCIPA and Twisted Hop Hopback IPA.

Coming soon: De Molen Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel aged Rasputin. Who says imperial stouts are for winter?