Thursday, December 20, 2018

December 20, 2018

The Alternative Sensory Deprivation Tank

According to Wikipedia, sensory deprivation is “the deliberate reduction or removal of stimuli from one or more of the senses.” In the days after Christmas we know that many of you will be wishing for some sensory deprivation – maybe the removal of daylight, traffic noise or certain family members.

We have an alternative to shelling out hundreds of dollars to lie in warm goo with a blindfold on. We offer a dimly lit, windowless, underground space, with the only stimulus being intoxicating beverages and, perhaps, the mesmeric sights and sounds of televised cricket.

What’s more we offer our Alternative Sensory Deprivation Therapy on the dot of midday on Boxing Day.

Sadly the law prohibits the offering of our therapy on Christmas Day itself. But we look forward to seeing a queue form outside the front door in the minutes leading up to 12pm on Dec 26.

Christmas Cinema

This Sunday we screen Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. Following last week’s Black Christmas, this is another alternative to the usual saccharin Christmas movie, being a Finnish hybrid of a horror flick and a Christmas movie parody.

At 7pm in the Cult Film Basement

On Tap Now

  • Deep Creek Aloha
  • Invercargill B.Man IPA
  • Kereru Black Ruby Choc Imperial Stout
  • Isthmus No Man's Land XPA
  • Isthmus Peak Haze IPA
  • Laughing Bones The Duke Rye Pale Ale
  • Invercargill B.Man Pilsner
  • Peckham's Moutere Cider
  • Invercargill Pitch Black Stout

Belated Release

It finally happened – a new release was delivered so late by the carrier that we didn’t get it in time to go on tap on Tuesday evening. It was dropped off yesterday, so Isthmus brewing’s No Man’s Land XPA went on tap yesterday.

There won’t be a new release next Tuesday because we won’t be open!

Thunder. All Through The Night.

Experience tells us that from around about today, the Wellington CBD gradually descends into a kind of hibernation (or more correctly aestivation), from which it groggily emerges some time in January. Nevertheless we know that there are those of you who want to defy this urge and keep using the CBD as your workplace and/or playground. So this Saturday we do have a band in our usual Saturday night slot. Chocolate Thunder play at 10pm, bringing not just funk, but “funk groove fusion”.

We are passing on having live music on Saturday week (the 29th), and instead have the Vanguards playing two nights later on New Years Eve.



A few years ago, when providers started rolling out eftpos terminals capable of performing contactless transactions (i.e. “Pay Wave”, “Tap and Go” etc), we were alerted to the fact that performing these transactions imposed a fresh set of charges on merchants and so resisted getting them in.

Since then they have got wide - but definitely not universal - acceptance, and we frequently watch customers wave cards (and occasionally phones) at our eftpos terminals, expecting a payment to happen. And we explain that pay wave won’t work, while trying to resist the instinct to say “sorry”, because, in reality, we aren’t sorry that we don’t offer it.

Saying “paywave doesn’t work here“ fifty times a day gets a little tiring, so one day last week we tried pre-alerting customers to this fact, by announcing it on the sign outside. And because this policy is something we see no shame in and are happy to own, we wrote “proudly paywave free”.

Not long after, we got a review on a certain site that collects crowdsourced reviews saying “Boasting about not having eftpos, not cool. How about it’s 2018 and getting with the times.” Yes, someone really wrote that.

We take this as a sign that the subject of the fairness and expense of contactless payments isn’t as well understood as it needs to be.

From our point of view as a merchant, we have traditionally taken three kinds of payment – cash, eftpos (where money comes from a cheque or savings account) and credit. Cash and eftpos were effectively free (except for the cost of renting an eftpos terminal), while credit card transactions came with charges of between 2.5% and 3%. We have always tolerated those credit card charges for a few reasons:– customers such as travellers rely on being able to pay by credit card and payments by credit card were always a small minority of the total payments we took in. But the overriding concern was that customers simply expect to have the option of paying by credit card.

Then along came contactless, and a new charge. Suddenly those eftpos payments wouldn’t be free, if they were paid by a wave of the card instead of the traditional process. They would come with a charge of around 1.5% - not as much as credit card charges, but a totally new cost where there hadn’t been one before. When times are good a merchant might laugh at a fresh charge of 1.5% of some or all their income. But the rest of the time and for most merchants, this is a cost that has to be paid for by putting up prices. Maybe not immediately, but the day when an operator looks at their books and decides it’s time to put prices up might be brought forward.

So we resisted and have continued to resist. We scoffed when the bank called and offered to waive transaction charges for a month – as if that somehow makes a difference to the charges that would be imposed for the rest of time.

We know that we are far from the only hold-outs. In fact those anti-establishment rebels known as Burger King made the news by ditching pay wave a few months ago.

Now there is a problem with this explanation that is easy to make and difficult to refute, and that is the fact that we continue to tolerate the higher cost of doing credit card transactions. To be brutally honest, if we thought we could pass those ~2.5% credit card charges on to our customers and get away with it, we almost certainly would. Especially since the proportion of payments being made by credit cards is steadily creeping up. But this is the brutal reality – consumers have been persuaded that they (you) can not only switch seamlessly between credit card and eftpos, but loyalty schemes give you an incentive to take the credit option, while merchants silently pick up the tab.

Meanwhile the venerable payment system of eftpos, which has served New Zealand magnificently and economically for 30-odd years, is being undermined and replaced by stealth with a system that lets the world’s most profitable banks take ticket-clipping to another level.

Anyone want to debate this issue or suggest what a retailer like us should be doing? This email gets copied to a blog, where comments will be welcome.


Thursday, December 13, 2018

December 13, 2018

Secret Source

It has been our nine-year long (and continuing) mission to find the best possible beer-friendly snack foods. To that end we have found what might be the best yet. For some portion of the population at least. While no doubt some much smaller portion of the populace will screw their faces up.

We introduce Nam Pla Nuts. These may or may not have been sourced at great trouble and expense from a producer in another part of the world. Either way, we have a limited, experimental supply available for sale right now at a mere $5 for a bowl.

Get Ready To..

The Rumble is one of several musical combos wrangled by local guitarist Chris Armour. Normally the lineup simply consists of Chris and drummer Miles Calder, playing what is officially labelled “raw Proto-Rock'n'Roll, Blues and Rockabilly”.

This week though they’ve enlisted keyboardist Dayle Jellyman, of Darren Watson’s band The Dangerous Experts. Dayle has been known to bring a full, working, upright piano down our stairs for gigs, which is always a bit hair-raising but thoroughly worth it. So we anticipate an even richer and more adventurous musical experience than is typical this Saturday.

As usual, kick-off time is 10pm and the cover charge is a smile.

And speaking of Darren Watson's Dangerous Experts, we're reliably informed that after a spell staying away from regular old gigging, Darren's batteries are recharged and we'll see him and the band back in early 2019.

On Tap Now

  • Deep Creek Aloha
  • Invercargill B.Man APA
  • Invercargill B.Man IPA
  • Kereru Black Ruby Choc Imperial Stout
  • Cassels & Sons Cassels Witbier
  • Choice Bros Disco King IPA
  • Deep Creek Double IPA
  • Te Aro Brewing Dubh
  • Mean Doses Mean Juice IPA
  • Kereru Silverstream Pale Ale (hand pump)
  • Deep Creek Undercurrent Pilsner

The sharp eyed will notice two beers whose names vary from each other by a single letter. It isn't a typo. We rolled back the clock by placing an order with the venerable Invercargill Brewery. (In fact they're apparently in the process of rebranding as the Bloody Good Brew Co - does anyone think that's a good idea?)
For years Invercargill had a famous hoppy lager called Biman, then B.Man, then B.Man Pilsner. That beer still exists but it has spawned no fewer than two other hoppy pale beers - an APA and an IPA. We have both on tap right now, with the original to join them in the near future. Plus as an extra treat we grabbed a keg of the legendary Pitch Black Stout.

Look out too for something from Silverdale's Laughing Bones and some fresh cider on tap courtesy of Peckhams.

But right now, anyone looking for a Christmas treat is encouraged to look no further than Kereru Black Ruby Imperial Stout.

Black Christmas

The place of Die Hard as an action classic and a slightly unlikely/ironic Christmas movie seems to get more and more entrenched every year. But as this article lays out, we can do better in the form of the 1974 Canadian Horror Black Christmas - a highly regarded early example of a slasher film set in a sorority house at Christmas. Does it get any better than that?

As usual our cult movie screens at 7pm on Sunday in our multi-purpose art and performance studio.

Little Rocket Plan

Anyone else still get a kick out of watching rockets take off from the Mahia Peninsula? If nothing goes wrong with the weather or the technology there may be one some time after 5pm today. We’ll keep the projector and screen on standby just in case.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

December 6, 2018

Rock Dots

Earlier this week Hashigo Zake was delighted to learn that our booker hadn’t actually made a typo on, and this Saturday’s music comes from someone with an umlaut in his name. We don’t care that Baron Oscar Lavën’s music is some distance from rock ‘n roll and that the performer in question was born with said umlaut. All that matters is that our act this Saturday has rock dots.

This isn’t completely unprecedented. A couple of years ago we hosted a secret gig by rock royalty in the form of Hüsker Dü’s late Grant Hart. Grant explained that Hüsker Dü’s umlauts were inserted to avoid being sued by the makers of the Hūsker Dū board game. Not particularly rock ‘n roll either.

And as if having an authentic umlaut in his name didn’t endear Lavën to us sufficiently, he has promised to play no Christmas tunes. Instead we're looking forward to a "deep-digging, boots-and-all Soul Funk organ trio".

The Oscar Lavën Organ Trio play at 10pm on Saturday in our Lounge. No cover charge.

If there is any reader who considers a lack of Christmas music to be a failing, we have two comments. It would be undiplomatic to actually express the first. The other is: please see the section below on Monday’s Rock The Cash Bar Christmas Edition.

Rock The Cash Bar VIII

Popular culture guru and quizmaster Hadyn Green has done a magnificent job of making Rock The Cash Bar an established and well-attended fixture in our calendar. Take a victory lap, Hadyn.

We thought it would be fitting to sneak in one last instalment of Rock The Cash Bar before the end of the year. And Hadyn isn’t going to pass up the opportunity of adding a Christmassy element, even if it means tolerating it being called Rock The Kitsch Bar.

So Monday night’s quiztravaganza should be an even better form of Monday night entertainment than usual. To be assured that you and your team can walk in on Monday evening and find a table with your team name on it, go to the event’s very own facebook page and leave a message.

On Tap Now

  • Renaissance Black Hole Fusion
  • Golden Bear Body Czech Pils
  • South Cider Boysenberry Cider
  • Te Aro Double Dragon IIPA
  • Deep Creek Double IPA
  • Deep Creek Lagerita
  • Kereru Moonless Stout (Hand pump)
  • Kereru Pohutukawa Golden Ale
  • Sawmill American Brown Ale
  • Sawmill Old English Ale
  • Kereru Yellowhead IPA

I Saw The Devil

You might have noticed that we’re big fans of South Korean cinema. Especially of the Crime & Thriller films of the first decade of this century.

Following screenings of Memories of Murder and The Chaser we’re returning to South Korea with Kim Jee-woon’s (The Good, The Bad, The Weird) shockingly intense Special Agent vs Serial Killer Cat & Mouse thriller from 2010.

Byung-Hun Lee (A BIttersweet Life) stars as a Government special agent who unleashes brutal vengeance on the serial killer (Choi Min-sik - Oldboy) who murdered his pregnant fiancé.

What follows is one of the most incredible pieces of revenge cinema put to screen.

An unflinching gaze into the heart of pure evil and a perverse genre entertainment par excellence.” (Rob Nelson, Variety)

I Saw The Devil screens in our multi-function arts and entertainment complex (i.e. the Lounge) on Sunday at 7pm.

Santa Session Debrief

From our vantage point, Tuesday’s Santa Session looked like a lot of fun for all concerned. As well as generously pouring lots and lots of beer that had outstayed its welcome, we threw in a few beers that definitely did not deserve to be in that category. In other words, these were beers still at or near their peak condition and that are still available for purchase. And there were some definite highlights.
  • Modern Times Funky Universal Friend – with Pinot Noir. Three years ago Modern Times took their Universal Friend saison, added grape must and bottled the result with Brettanomyces. (We’re told that they underestimated just how much carbonation the brett would add, leading to some feisty drinking.) The result is tasting as good as ever – complex, bright and a little, well, winey.
  • Almanac Saison de Brettaville. More evidence – if it was even needed - that brett beers can keep getting better. This barrel-aged and brett-ified saison is riotously pineapply and vibrant, belying its several years of patiently waiting on a shelf.
  • Moon Dog Bock Naked. This one is really causing some head-scratching. We wrote off our leftover supplies of this years ago and designated it cooking beer. (Because a strong chipotle-spiced bock is a great marinade!) But one day one of us sipped a little and it was surprisingly good. So we chucked a few bottles into the Santa Session and got great feedback. We’re still dithering about whether we can legitimately offer them for sale. Feedback welcome.

More on Christmas and New Year Trading

Time for yet another gentle reminder that we are open from midday every day that we’re allowed, which means every day except Christmas Day. Here are our closing times:

Sunday & Monday: No earlier than 9:30pm.

Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday: No earlier than 11pm.

Friday, Saturday: No earlier than 1am.

Remember that we can, and often do, stay open later than those closing times. It depends just how busy we are around closing time. We know that many of you like to do your socialising later in summer.