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Thursday, 30 March 2017 12:38

Enter the Dragon

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News bulletin #384
March 30, 2017

Bottle Pour Saturday - Dragon Edition

 
Way back in Issue 383 of this email we talked about the latest releases of the two beers under the There Be Dragons label – Chasing Harvest Ale and Royal Blood. This Saturday we’re offering customers a chance to get them both by the glass.

Chasing Harvest is a single batch of pinot barrel-aged red ale (with some pinot noir juice) while Royal Blood is a blend across a couple of vintages.

The volumes of these annual releases are incredibly low so there will never be a better opportunity to get to know them. 

New Release Tuesday - Even Older Fritze


Next week’s new release is a rarity from Tiamana. It’s a keg of Annika’s barrel-aged doppelbock known as Even Older Fritz. This particular keg has spent 15 months in a Dogpoint “Section 94” Sauvignon Blanc barrel. We’re promised big caramel, white wine, oak, leather and bourbon notes.



On Tap Now

  • Kereru Big Pigeon Pilsner
  • Oskar Blues Blood Orange Spesh-Ale
  • Craftwork/Wild & Woolly Coeur de Cerise
  • North End E.S.B (handpump)
  • Adroit Theory Legion
  • Hashigo Zake Staffie Series Moalland
  • Te Aro Oatmeal Stout (handpump)
  • Te Aro Brewing Obligatory Pale Ale
  • Mata Rock n Red Ale
  • Wild & Woolly Tall Tosser

Highlights

It’s nearly three years since a meeting at the 2014 World Beer Cup led to a shipment to New Zealand from the up-and-coming Virginia brewery called Adroit Theory. The highlight of that shipment was a collaboration between local brewer Graeme Mahy and Adroit Theory called Legion. It was a big strong stout, fermented with a Belgian yeast and spiced with Horopito.

One of the last kegs anywhere of this beer is on tap right now and it has aged absolutely beautifully.

Meanwhile in a first for us, Te Aro Oatmeal Stout is on handpump!

Hopstock Planning


Plans are progressing nicely for this year’s Hopstock, which is on just the other side of Easter, in about three weeks. Tickets for organised tours of outlets will be going on sale soon.

Perhaps this is a good time to briefly ponder what makes Hopstock special.

Hopstock is a celebration of new beers that have been made with some portion of unprocessed, fresh-off-the-bine hops.

The challenge to brewers of using wet hops is deceptively difficult. Since hops are beer’s chief seasoning, the prospect of using fresh ones sounds exciting. The reality is that brewers get one shot a year at using an ingredient that comes without the customary technical information, that must be used at 5-10 times the usual volume for the same effect and that is decaying in front of their eyes. What’s more the actual benefits of using wet hops aren’t all that well understood. Because while the characteristics of individual hop varieties are well documented, it’s hard to find anyone who’ll stick their neck out and describe the effects of wet hops on a beer. The closest thing to a consensus is that wet hops make a beer more “green” and “oily”.

This uncertainty about what the beers will be like has clearly not dampened the enthusiasm of consumers, as Hopstock keeps growing in popularity.

One of the attractions of Hopstock may be its appeal to Wellington’s older beer lovers, who remember the custom from around 15 years ago of the festival previously known as BrewNZ, when breweries from outside Wellington (and breweries invariably were from outside Wellington) teamed with bars that became their “headquarters”. The opportunity to taxi from bar to bar trying beers that otherwise never made it to Wellington really was novel and exciting.

And yet some of those bars acting as brewery headquarters were unlikely venues for a high-brow pub crawl. Quite a few were kind of corporate or at least not what you’d call strongholds of small brewing and those of us turning up asking for unusual beers didn’t really feel at home. Truth be told, many of them were probably only involved because they were encouraged to by the Beer, Wine and Spirits Council.

Now in 2017’s Hopstock there will be 22 beers at 22 bars. (2013’s inaugural Hopstock consisted of eight beers at twelve bars.) And therein lies what might be the real beauty of Hopstock. Because in 2017 these venues need no arm-twisting to put on unpredictable beers by small, independent brewers. These are venues that would happily serve beer from their Hopstock brewer any other week of the year. So arguably Hopstock is as much a celebration of Wellington’s rapidly maturing circuit of quality beer bars.

And speaking of Wellington's beer outlets, this week we welcomed two initiates to the very special club of venues that have been well and truly baptised by firefighters. We wish them a satisfactory investigation into the fires’ causes and a comprehensive insurance payout.

New in the Fridge!

 

The first release by local lads Graphic Brewing has been on tap quite a few times. We can now add that Hashigo Zake is the first (and so far only) Wellington bar stocking Origin Story in its magnificent canned form.

They might have appeared sooner but there was a delay receiving the semi-transparent can labels that give these their vibrant colour-on-aluminium look.

These beauties are a full 440ml in volume and cost $14 over the bar (or even less to take away with you).