Thursday, June 29, 2017

June 29, 2017

Downtown Aley

It’s official. According to the Dominion Post we’re having a “meaty street party” in our “garden bar” on Saturday. We’re not sure how these descriptors came to be used to describe our first ever extension into the daylight, but if the cap fits…

And speaking of official, our actual licence to serve drinks above ground on Saturday has come through.

Plans are humming along then and we’re looking forward to bringing the legendary Hashigo Zake portable bar out of mothballs and setting up alongside Salt and Wood’s food offerings, up in our enchanted archway throughout Saturday.

We have a useful piece of info for anyone reading this who is attending the test on Saturday. The stadium shuttle buses bringing patrons back from the stadium will be terminating right across the road from us.

Or… don’t even go to the game, and instead stay and spectate from the comfort of our improvised and mostly weather-proof bar, complete with a two metre-wide screen and a high definition image being projected onto it.

But the improvising doesn’t end there. We’ve had Garage Project deliver a couple of kegs of their nitrogenated stout called Snug, and on Saturday we’ll be pouring that through taps using nitrogen.

Also on tap will be a suitably English offering from Wild Beer Co, in the form of their Smoke 'n Barrels Summer - a smoked orange gose. And on the pilsner tap, both upstairs and downstairs, will be the Townshend brewery's homage to the touring team - Lioness.

Meanwhile our friends at Craft Beer College are staging a couple of Beer Bar and Brewery Walking Tours to coincide with the arrival of supporters of the team whose name can’t be uttered without checking MEMA. One of those just got underway with a stop right here, and there’s another tomorrow afternoon. If you know any visitors (or permanent residents for that matter) who would get a kick out of being guided through several of Wellington’s bars and breweries tomorrow, then we recommend giving them this link.

Here once again is Saturday's food menu, courtesy of our friends at Salt & Wood Collective:
12hr smoked shredded beef, bbq and smoked cheese sauce, served on tortilla chips

jalapenos, smoked beans, smoked cheese sauce served on tortilla chips

pork bratwurst braised in north end beer finished on the smoker served with mustard slaw on a soft bun.

4th of July

We pride ourselves on being a broad church with a diverse congregation, so almost as soon as we see off our guests from the UK and Ireland, we’ll be celebrating the country of origin of many of our favourite beers and bar staff – the United States.

[Let it be stated for the record that any celebration of the United States and the things about it that we like should not in any way be considered an endorsement of that country’s sort-of elected president and what pass for his policies.]

This year’s 4th of July beer list is looking as good as ever, including the last kegs of a few lines that we’ve hung on to, plus a couple of one-off beers brewed by our own staff especially for the occasion.

One of those beers is a clone of Ballast Point Grunion, that we’re calling Funion. The other is a clone of Deschutes Freshly Squeezed IPA that is tentatively called Uncle Sam’s Freedom Nectar, but we think we might be able to improve on that.

The kitchen will be serving Nachos and Freedom Dogs.  And there'll probably be decorations. Certain of us are secretly hoping that our stash of US-themed decorations went up in the fire last year, but the balance of probabilities is that our décor will be compromised by the presence of a little too much red, white and blue.

On Tap Now

  • Wild and Woolly Beast of Burden
  • Townshend BlitzGreig IPA (Handpump)
  • Fitzpatricks Fitzpatricks Pale Ale
  • Baird Fruitful IPA
  • Oskar Blues G'knight Imperial RIPA
  • Tiamana Meister
  • Deep Creek Pontoon in a Monsoon
  • Sawmill/Galbraiths Special Bitter
  • Townshend Sutton Hoo (Handpump)
  • Deep Creek Undercurrent Pilsner
  • Mata Wai-iti Waka Pale Ale

Announcing... Smash 'n GABS 2

Once again we've been done what needed to and have procured a selection of some of the biggest hits of this year's GABS festival and we'll be putting a bunch of them on tap at the same time. The date... July 7, a week tomorrow.

The list will include what is probably our first ever beer from Hong Kong, plus a sensational and very sour cider.

We'll give full details seven days from now. 


Live music returns on Saturday week, the 8th, in the form of Black Spider Stomp, bringing a welcome dose of gypsy jazz.

Then on the 22nd it will be the turn of the Vincent Vega Trio.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

June 22, 2017


Tomorrow night we get to be the first Wellington bar to serve the beer of West Auckland newbies Colab. We’re expecting a delegation from the brewery featuring some, or maybe even all, of their three founders.

To honour Colab’s German connection we’ll be augmenting our menu with a German dish or two. And not just any old off-the-shelf pretzels either – Oma Erna's Mautaschen Dumplings, prepared by our own staff using a recipe provided by an actual German citizen that one of our staff is related to, by marriage.

As for the Colab beers, we’ll be serving the following:
  • Garden Ale, 4%. “A refreshing collaboration of German Malt along with a smooth lashing of German and New Zealand Hops create this uniquely sessionable Colab Garden Ale.”
  • The Commissioner, Red IPA, 6.2%. “A new world collaboration of German malt and US aroma hops give a rich, red, malt driven West Coast Styled Red IPA.”
  • APA, 5.5%. “A balanced combination of German Malt and American aroma hops delivering a well-rounded West Coast styled Ale.”
  • Seasonal beer - Night Caller Schwarbier 4.7%.
Please note that the brewery are between batches of their Pilsner, which is a pity because it’s a fascinating alternative to the New Zealand pilsners that we generally pour. We’ll have to get that on tap in the near future.

We’ll also be offering a four-trip ticket to let you try the range.

New Release Tuesday

Next week’s New Release is a fitting beer to launch on the day that the Hurricanes take on the Lions. It’s an ESB, described as a NZ/UK fusion ale. “British Base malts from Thomas Fawcett maltings and Kiwi Specialty malts from Gladfield. British hops in the kettle with a light NZ Chinook dry-hop. Chewy and robust with mouth-filling goodness, the best of both Island nations.”

It also happens to be a collaboration between Auckland breweries Sawmill and Galbraiths.

Entertainment of the Sporting Kind

Next week brings the event that the Wellington hospitality industry has been dreaming of for eleven years and eleven months – the arrival of around 20,000 Irish and British Lions supporters. (More about that immediately below.)

For anyone who cares about the fortunes of the All Blacks but also believes in civil discourse between the adults of different countries, it’s going to mean a week of biting tongues and reining in tempers in the face of goading from selectively informed experts who nevertheless will be manuhiri. Which means that watching the first test on Saturday on the telly might be our last chance for a fortnight to say what we think while watching a Lions match.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that we will, naturally, show the first test from Auckland on our TVs on Saturday night. We can then all visualise half of that match’s spectators heading for the airport or their campervans and migrating to Wellington.

While the match is on, we’ll be offering our now-traditional “stadium pie” special – a piping hot mince pie in a paper bag for just $5.

Downtown Aley

With apologies to those who reject the idea of rugby being the source of national identity and personal self-worth, it’s time to bang on again about what we’re up to next week, particularly on July 1.

We’ve been working things out with our guest caterers for July 1 and Salt & Wood have come up with the following menu:
12hr smoked shredded beef, bbq and smoked cheese sauce, served on tortilla chips

jalapenos, smoked beans, smoked cheese sauce served on tortilla chips

pork bratwurst braised in north end beer finished on the smoker served with mustard slaw on a soft bun.

We’ll be open on the 1st by our usual time of midday, but if all goes to plan we’ll be welcoming customers earlier than that – probably 11am. Please bear with us if the complexities of turning our entranceway and footpath into a welcoming hospitality space take longer than we hope.

On Tap Now

  • Beer Baroness First Lady APA
  • Beg Borrow & Brew Good in the Hood (Handpump)
  • Gigantic Hearts & Stars Saison
  • Tiamana Meister
  • Kereru Moonless Stout (Handpump)
  • Te Aro Oatmeal Stout
  • Townshend Pouri Lane Pils
  • Hallertau Stuntman IIPA
  • Baird Suruga Bay IIPA
  • North End Visitation Belgian Quad

July 4

While Rugby’s big day is July 1, the United States’ big day is just a few days later. We’ll be following our custom and turning taps over to a special lineup of US beers, with a couple of notable exceptions – homages to two iconic American beers brewed specially for the occasion by the US citizens on our staff.


Chocolate Thunder return with their funk/jazz/soul blend to play in our lounge on Saturday night, starting at 9:30.

Still no cover charge. What is wrong with us?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

June 15, 2017


Regular readers will have noticed us talking up our plans for July 1, when Rugby’s most famous circus comes to town. In particular, we’re doing something totally unprecedented in our history - and unlikely to be repeated - by extending Hashigo Zake’s frontier upstairs.

Naturally our plans include food, drink and entertainment. It’s time to elaborate a little on the entertainment. 


Earlier this week we stealthily arranged a test of our solution for screening that July 1 rugby test. We have the use of a high powered, high definition projector and the results from our test were better than we hoped for. So we can announce with confidence that patrons in our above-ground annex will be able to watch a bright and clear screening of the game.


As previously announced we’re looking forward to having Waikanae’s Salt and Wood Collective bring their US-style barbecue expertise to lower Taranaki St on July the 1st.


We’re dusting off our much-loved portable bar and positioning it outside, complete with a couple of taps, a collection of cans and a hand pump. You’ll be able to purchase beer and drink upstairs or head downstairs and choose from the wider range there and bring your drink back above ground.

Rock the Cash Bar

We’re counting down to number one. There are just four and a bit days until our first ever music quiz, conceived and fronted by Hadyn Green. Rock The Cash Bar kicks off at 6:30pm on Monday. All the details are here


Colab Brewing have just announced their newest seasonal beer, which is just in time for us, since it means it will join most of their four core beers when we put them on tap for the first time in Wellington on Friday week, the 23rd.

That new beer is a schwarzbier called Night Caller. Schwarzbier is exactly the kind of traditional style that gets overlooked in these days of hop-forward or tart pale beers. Nevertheless brewer Albrecht van Wallmoden is promising a beer that’s refreshing and smashable, with plenty of bitterness to balance the complex malt flavours.

Albrecht is one of three partners in nano-brewery Colab and has confirmed that he’ll be coming all the way from West Auckland to be with us on the evening.

New Release Tuesday

North End have a new beer for us to try next Tuesday. It’s a Belgian Quad. We’ve learned over the years that when North End’s Kieran Haslett-Moore turns his attention to big, boozy styles, the results can be extraordinary. (We’re looking forward to a commercial batch of a certain Imperial Stout.)

So join us at 5pm on Tuesday the 20th when Visitation goes on tap for the first time.

July 4

While Rugby’s big day is July 1, the United States’ big day is just a few days later. We’ll be following our custom and turning taps over to a special lineup of US beers, with a couple of notable exceptions – homages to two iconic American beers brewed specially for the occasion by the US citizens on our staff.

On Tap Now + Bottle Pour Saturday

  • Garage Project Beer
  • Townshend Divine Intervention
  • Baird Fruitful Life IPA 
  • Beg Borrow & Brew Good in the Hood Porter (handpump)
  • Gigantic Hearts & Stars Saison
  • Tiamana Kirsch Cherry Gose
  • Beg Borrow & Brew Mr. Holdsworth Pale Ale (handpump)
  • Te Aro Oatmeal Stout
  • Mike's One More Pale Ale
  • Graphic Origin Story Citrus APA
  • Hallertau Stuntman IIPA
Look out for Tiamana's legendary Berliner Weisse Meister. Rather than leaving drinkers to mix syrup into the beer while drinking it, Meister comes pre-sweetened with woodruff syrup, rendering it an attractive green colour.

Baird Fruitful Life Citrus IPA is now on tap, replacing the delicious (if cloudy) Temple Garden Yuzu Pale Ale. As mentioned last week, Baird have not only been putting citrus fruits into pale beers since long before they became fashionable, they’ve been doing it with Japanese varieties of fruit, making for some distinctive and delicious results.

Our fridges are now quite well stocked with beer from Baird. We recommend that anyone who hasn’t already done so tries the green tea and wasabi beer called Wabi Sabi Japan Pale Ale, which is the bottle in this photo with the somewhat colour-less label. While the illustration is very pretty and evocative, the overall packaging might not win any awards.

Bottle Pour Saturday – Aged Barley Wine and Wheat Wine Edition

The arrival of new Baird beers prompted us to have a rummage in our cellar. We found bottles of their West Coast Wheat Wine from 2009, 2011 and 2014. Plus we’ve got a supply of a more recent vintage of Ganko Oyaji Barley Wine. All of which means that we can stage a radical bottle pour session of aged Barley Wine and its variant, Wheat Wine.

Wheat Wine was invented by American brewers in the last few decades as a variant of Barley Wine, replacing some of the malted barley with wheat for a brighter and possibly more complex flavour.

Barley/Wheat Wine is one of the few beer styles that is generally considered to have a long shelf life. Since they have high concentrations of a natural preservative (alcohol) and use hops mainly for bitterness rather than for bright but volatile flavours and aromas, they can age gracefully and tolerate a little oxidation.

And of course Barley Wine isn’t really a wine. The Wine suffix was invented a long time ago to get the attention of certain consumers.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

June 8, 2017

Jazz Festival

The Wellington Jazz Festival is underway but for us the action starts tonight when we host the first of three gigs in a row in our lounge. Tonight it’s the Sunlight Band.

Here's our full lineup. All 10pm, no charge.

Tonight - The Sunlight Band
Friday - Nick Granville Funk Trio
Saturday - Darren Watson and the Dangerous Experts

We apologise for the last minute change to last Saturday's entertainment, which was forced on us when it was found out very late in the day that band members had schedule conflicts. Many thanks to King Kreabsley's Kalypso Kavalcade for stepping in.

New Release Tuesday

Next week’s New Release Tuesday is a double release from Wairarapa nano-brewer Beg, Borrow and Brew. Their Portly Porter made it into last year’s Pacific Beer Expo. We’ll have two beers that we’ve never served before and that are unlikely to have been tried outside southern Wairarapa.

Those beers will be a NZ-hopped Pale Ale called Rockin Pale Ale and a coffee porter made with organic coffee beans roasted by Martinborough’s Neighbourhood café called Good In The Hood.

Look for both on our hand pumps from 5pm on Tuesday.


As many of you have observed, the Hashigo Zake untappd badge is now officially a thing. Checking in beers with us leads to level after level of untappd badginess.

Over the years we’ve made plenty of use of crowd-sourced beer information via untappd and ratebeer. In particular we have put some value on results from ratebeer, which has compiled years and years of reviews from consumers who are generally well-intentioned and enthusiastic. The sheer volume of reviews, combined with ratebeer’s practice of filtering out reviews of questionable quality, helps to give their collective results some credibility. Overall, ratebeer’s reviewers have some huge biases in terms of styles that they favour, but these biases are clear and obvious to anyone looking and can be allowed for. At its best then, ratebeer serves as a useful complement to more conventional beer judging.

Going back to those biases, ratebeer has a clear and obvious bias against bland beer made by large, industrial brewers. A glance at their "Worst Beers in the World” page lays that bare. One large brewer occupies 1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th, 11th, 14th, 15th and 16th on that list.

So imagine the consternation among vocal enthusiasts of good beer when it was learned this week that the very brewer that dominates that Worst Of list has bought a stake in ratebeer.

Confused? We were. A good place to read about it is Good Beer Hunting, who were the first to deduce that this buy-in had happened as the people involved had stayed quiet about the transaction. There’s more speculation on what it all means here, but really the news is so utterly bewildering that we barely know how to react. Do we go full Sam Calagione and throw out our own wall-full of awards from ratebeer?

Rote Learning

We had a couple of significant event announcements two weeks that we’re particularly keen for people to retain. 

Rock The Cash Bar.

Hashigo Zake and Hadyn Green do a music quiz! The first instalment of what will surely become a cultural phenomenon is just eleven days away on June 19. Brush up!


West Auckland nano-brewery Colab are sending beer to Wellington for the first time and we’ll have five of their range on tap. That’s on June 23.

You can check what events we have coming up here.

Two Dates in July

Here at our underground lair, planning continues for July 1 and July 4, and indeed for the week leading up to July 1.

We're limited in what we can actually say about June 27 and July 1 by the glorious piece of social justice legislation that is The Major Events Management Act. But we're working hard on ways to make the space outside our front door as hospitable as possible on July 1.

Meanwhile the 4th of July is looming and we plan to celebrate a certain nation's role as a force of amazing change in the science and art of brewing.

On Tap Now

  • Beer Baroness BA Miss Van Der Bier
  • Kereru Big Pigeon Pilsner
  • Townshend BlitzGreig IPA (handpump)
  • Liberty Darkest Days Stout
  • Townshend Divine Intervention
  • Tiamana Kirsch Cherry Gose
  • Kereru Moonless Stout (handpump)
  • Funk Estate Mothership Mosaic Pale Ale
  • Hallertau Stuntman IIPA
  • Pirate Life Throwback IPA

Coming Soon

Look out for a new (to us) citrus pale ale from Japan’s Baird. Baird have been putting citrus juice and zest (not to mention stone fruit, figs, apples and strawberries) in pale ales and IPAs since long before Grapefruit Sculpin was a twinkle in Ballast Point’s (big) eye. Temple Garden Yuzu Pale Ale is one of five citrus beers they’ll be releasing in 2017. This beer should come on tap in the next few days, and at the same time we’ll be refreshing our supplies of bottle Baird beer, including their green tea and wasabi beer called Wabi Sabi.

Also on soon will be a the third in a series of romantically named "Hop Trial" beers by Townshend. This one is a pale ale, as were the two previous hop trial beers.

Friday, June 2, 2017

June 1, 2017


BorderStop is a popup outlet store for beer, that happens tomorrow afternoon at our sibling business Beer Without Borders.

BWB is strictly a wholesale business, but for the first time this year it has a special licence for one afternoon. So tomorrow only, anyone (of legal purchase age) can rock up and buy six packs, mixed packs and cases of beer straight from the same cool store that retailers get them from. Prices will be somewhere between wholesale and retail.

It’s timed to help anyone wanting to fill their car boot before heading off, or heading home, for the long weekend. And it won’t happen again until Christmas.

Tomorrow, June 2. 1pm – 6pm at 24 Abel Smith St.

Holiday Monday

Speaking of the strangest reason for a holiday in our calendar, are public holiday surcharges even a thing still? We’ve never believed in them and certainly aren’t about to start applying one, so come in on Monday and enjoy surcharge free service and discounts for SOBA members.

Beer of the Month

In collaboration with our own Cult Beer Store, we’re offering specials throughout June on our Beer of the Month, which is La Sirene Super Saison.

This beer is an amped up reinterpretation of La Sirene’s flagship Saison. “Super Saison has a rustic orange hue, pronounced aromas of tropical fruit and a dry spicy finish all allowing the La Sirène signature yeast profile to shine through & crown this Super Saison.”

New Release Tuesday

Last year we had this to say about our October 11 New Release, a Belgian IPA: “full of US grown El Dorado, Chinook and Simcoe with a bit of kiwi Rakau. The Belgian aspect comes in with Carabelge® and Special W® for that real raisiny/candy sweetness. A combination of ESB and Saison yeasts were used to give that lovely Belgian yeast character, while still drying out the beer nicely.”

That beer was Beer Baroness’s Miss Van Der Bier, and a small volume of it spent the summer in pinot noir barrels, which have added even more complexity and decadence to it. And on Tuesday we’re giving Barrel Aged Miss Van Der Bier a North Island release.

Now the long weekend means that next Tuesday will feel like a Monday. We encourage readers to make firm plans to come in and try this beer, put it in your diaries and don’t let the transferred pain of a virtual Monday interfere.


The Irish and British Lions have been in the country for the best part of a day. Have our media overdone the coverage yet?

Never mind if they have because it should start getting interesting once the actual play gets underway at 7:35pm on Saturday. As with most major sporting events, we have the option of putting it on our tellies, and we fully intend to with every tour match.

Not only that, we’re bringing back a food special that proved popular during (of all things) the AFL Grand Final last year. Between kick-off and full-time you can buy our high quality interpretation of the mince pie, served in an authentic, stadium-like paper bag for a mere $5.

This applies on Saturday and next Wednesday night as well.

A Festful of Gigs

Music returns in style, this week and next, with four gigs in our lounge in eight days, thanks partly to the Wellington Jazz Festival. All with no cover charge.

And note that the Jazz Fest gigs (which are the ones next week) start at 10pm. This Saturday's is at the regular time of 9:30pm.

Saturday, June 3 - Vincent Vega Trio
Thursday, June 8 - The Sunlight Band (part of the Wellington Jazz Fest)
Friday, June 9 - Nick Granville Funk Trio (part of the Wellington Jazz Fest)
Saturday, June 10 - Darren Watson and the Dangerous Experts (part of the Wellington Jazz Fest)

Stand By For July

Anyone thinking of abstaining from alcohol for a period is advised that July might be the worst possible time to try it. A month out, the dates July 1 and July 4 are looking somewhat daunting.

Our plans are well advanced for July 1, when we trust that some tiny minority of the 20,000 people visiting Wellington will join our beloved regular customers. We’re working hard to have extra space, extra taps, extra seating and extra food.

A mere three days later we’ll be turning our taps over to a selection of beers fit for a celebration of Covfefe Day. That will mostly mean a selection of awesome American imports. But after doing a fantastic job of three Modern Times tribute beers earlier this year, our staff are planning to come up with a small batch of a homage to an iconic American beer. More details – and news of special Covfefe-fest food – will be leaked in the weeks to come.

On Tap Now

  • Wild & Woolly Basilisk
  • Liberty Darkest Days Stout
  • Gigantic Hearts & Stars Saison
  • De Molen Hel & Verdoemenis
  • Hop Federation Hop Fed Pilsner
  • Hey Day Moongold ((Handpump)
  • Townshends Motueka Pale Ale
  • Duncan's Old English Stout (Handpump)
  • Speakeasy Prohibition Ale
  • Hallertau Stuntman IIPA
  • Mike's Taranaki IPA


Heyday is a future brewery, in that its a brewpub that hasn't been built yet, but whose beer is being developed by means of contract brewed batches. It will emerge in Upper Cuba St later in the year. What's significant for us is that the Head Brewer is Sam Whitney, who toiled behind the bar here at Hashigo Zake for a number of years before being poached by Panhead to become their assistant brewer. So it's a bit of a thrill for us to have one of Heyday's first beers - Moongold - on the handpump.

Hel & Verdoemenis created a bit of a stir on Tuesday when it went on tap. This beer has four or possibly five years behind it and is a great example of how rewarding it can be to age beer, provided it's the right beer and it is being stored cold.