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Thursday, 13 July 2017 14:56

Where There's Smoke

Anniversaries


Beervana just announced their brewery lineup for this year and there’s less than a month until New Zealand’s highest profile beer festival. It was around the time of Beervana, way back in 2009, that we started trading here at Hashigo Zake. So every Beervana is a kind of anniversary for us.

From this year it’s also the anniversary of something slightly less joyous – the time someone tried to burn us down, on August the 5th, the Friday before Beervana 2016.

It seems that we’ll never know whether the culprit was attempting a little petty vandalism with the paper towel dispenser in the gents or actually wanted to burn the building down and kill all our customers and staff. And perhaps if the arsonist was under the legal purchase age for alcohol then the case would have been quickly solved and we’d know the truth.

But hey, no-one was injured, we got to know how a gender-neutral bathroom works and most of the gents bathroom repairs were funded by insurance, so… no harm, no foul??

And now by glorious coincidence our friends at Graphic Brewing have a new beer to launch. And it’s called… My City Is On Fire. It’s a smoked porter. So on August the 1st we’re launching My City Is On Fire and simultaneously waving extended digits at our unindicted arsonist.

New Release Tuesday, Cook Strait Crossing Permitting


Once again Oamaru’s Craftwork have given (well, sold) us the rare gift of kegged beer.

Crikey Dick is described as a “bretty, hoppy pale ale” and a small keg of it is on its way. In theory it will make it in plenty of time to be next week’s New Release Tuesday. But the odds of it making it here by Tuesday are diminishing by the hour thanks to those fresh breezes we’re enjoying right now.



Is this a good time to remind everyone that there's no weather underground?

On Tap Now

  • Wheaty Brewing Corps/Hawkers Baklava Brown Ale
  • Deep Creek Black Tamarillo Gose
  • Kowloon Bay / Black Kite / Hong Kong Beer Co. CBAHK Wei(zen) The Dragon
  • Willie Smiths Cerasus Sour
  • Fitzpatrick's Fitzy's Special
  • North End Iron Sands Stout (Handpump)
  • Townshend Lioness Pilsner
  • Baird Rising Sun Pale Ale
  • Beer Baroness Rye-ot Grrrl Rye IPA
  • Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Imperial Stout
  • Townshend Sutton Hoo (Handpump)

Highlights

A few goodies remain from last Friday’s Smash ‘n’ GABS, when we featured a very carefully selected set of GABS leftovers. Amazingly there’s even some of the mouth-tingling, szechuan-infused Wei(zen) The Dragon left.

This week’s new release – Deep Creek’s Black Tamarillo Gose is still there as well.

Bottle Pour Saturday


This Saturday we’re doing a bottle pour made up of two recent, local barrel-aged releases. The first is Garage Project’s Rebel County, their collaboration with the Jameson distillery. GP made a beer inspired by Jameson’s whiskey, with Irish malt, maize, honey, hazelnuts, vanilla and dried apricots (although, curiously, no coconut), then aged it in Jameson whiskey barrels. The result is Rebel County.

Alongside that will be Kereru’s Night Spirit. This is an Imperial Stout aged in New Zealand Whiskey Co barrels.

Bottles of both of these beers constitute substantial investments for the adventurous drinker, but on Saturday we’re offering a taste of each for a very reasonable price.

Music!


The Saturday after next sees the Vincent Vega Trio return with their distinctive surf rock (or perhaps that's surf RnB).

Next month we'll again have an extra live gig to help entertain patrons on both evenings of Beervana (August 11 and 12). We'll host the Cosmonauts on the Thursday and the Nick Granville Funk Trio on the Saturday.

Our events calendar can be viewed any time here.

Finally...

It's a while since we bashed New Zealand's industrial brewers in this newsletter, but an opportunity has appeared that's too good to turn down.

One of DB's sibling subsidiaries of Heineken just got slapped with a nice big fine for doing what DB (and Lion) do here better than anyone - behaving anti-competitively. Sadly this ruling was on the other side of the world.

Those of a like mind to us can savour the news here.

Thursday, 22 June 2017 17:53

Colab and Collabs

Colab


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:
BRISKET $15
12hr smoked shredded beef, bbq and smoked cheese sauce, served on tortilla chips

VEGE WINTER SALSA $15
jalapenos, smoked beans, smoked cheese sauce served on tortilla chips

BEER SAUSAGE $10
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.

Music!


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, 15 June 2017 19:45

This Week's Testimony

Smoke+Screen


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. 

Screen

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.

Smoke

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.

Beer

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


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.
Friday, 02 June 2017 16:25

A Juneful of News

BorderStop


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.


 

Lionzzz


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

Highlights

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.

 

Thursday, 25 May 2017 16:48

Events, Beer and Event Beers

New Territory


Nearly eight years after we opened, there are still plenty of innovations we haven’t tried at Hashigo Zake. And if it wasn’t for the person who suggested it, hosting a music quiz might have stayed in the untried category.

But beer and technology writer Hadyn Green is something of an expert at both quizzes and Hashigo Zake and we’re going to put ourselves and the lounge in Hadyn’s hands on June 19

Hadyn will be quizmaster. We’ll be providing prizes. And the subject will be music.

So get in training for Rock the Cash Bar.
 


Bottle Pour Saturday


Many of you may be aware that Llew Bardecki’s Wild & Woolly brand is about to take an extended break. Ironically, one of his final acts before doing that has been to venture into bottled product for the first time. He recently packaged three of his last and most extravagant releases.

The beers are:
Cœur De Cerise. This collaboration with Craftwork was launched in our very own New Release Tuesday slot back in March. It’s a Farmhouse Ale with lavender from Llew's backyard and sour cherries from Otago. Officially it’s 4.5%, although some brettanomyces went into the bottles along with the beer, so there’s every chance that the ABV has crept up and the beer will have evolved since March.

From the Ashes: Wine barrel aged sour ale 6%

Sooty Albatross: Peat smoked imperial IPA 9.5%

All three went into champagne bottles that happen to be green, and since green bottles aren’t so good for keeping light out, Llew decided to forgo plain old labels and gave the bottles an old school paper wrap instead. Nice.

On Saturday only we’re offering a chance to sample 100mls of all three of these for just $15.



 

July 1 Update


Even more good news... a couple of weeks ago, we mentioned that on July 1 we'll be extending our premises up the stairs and into the space outside our front door and even onto the footpath - all so we'll have more space to welcome patrons on the day of the All Blacks vs the Irish & British Lions match in Wellington. We've never done this before and we may never do it again, but since the car park behind us is officially closed right now, we can do it this once!

Today we can announce that Waikanae's Salt and Wood Collective, who did a great job of catering at last year's Pacific Beer Expo, are going to join us and serve food from within our extended premises.

Displaying

Vintage Release Tuesday


Once again we can’t resist the opportunity to go with a variation on the traditional Tuesday new release. A keg of De Molen Hel & Verdoemenis has somehow remained hidden (but refrigerated) for four long years. Since De Molen like to put best before dates 25 years in the future on their bottles, we’re pretty sure that nothing bad will have happened to this keg in the last four years.

Here’s what the brewery say about this beer:

Hel & Verdoemenis is bursting with flavors. Bitter, roasted, chocolate, coffee. All times 2. It's this why it's our Flag Ship and best selling Imperial Stout. Flavour indication: chocolate, coffee. Translates as  Hell & Damnation

Water. Pale, brown, chocolate,roasted and caramel barley malts. Premian and saaz bitter hop. Yeast (top fermenting).

 

Bonus Beer!

It turns out that our newest purchase from Kereru is embargoed until Tuesday. It's Night Spirit, their new barrel-aged imperial stout. There were only 1,344 bottles made and we have a tiny allocation. 

Night Spirit is not aged in any common or garden used whisky or bourbon barrel either. These ones aged a local whisky for no fewer than 20 years.


Colab Brewing



Colab Brewing is a new brewery (established in 2016) based in west Auckland, in the same neighbourhood as Hallertau and Liberty. For the time being their scale is pretty small – a batch size of 300L puts them at the upper end of nano-brewery status, comparable to our friends at Fitzpatrick’s, Wild & Woolly and Tiamana. And so far their beer has barely made it south of Auckland, the exception being an appearance in Rotorua.

While the vast majority of our favourite up and coming local breweries are ventures by small brewers who have got serious, Colab is one of a handful where a brewer with significant commercial experience – in Colab’s case, Albrecht van Wallmoden - has scaled down. Albrecht is also a well known beer judge, so we feel entitled to expect utterly flawless beer, some of which will be in German styles.

After chatting on and off for some time, we’ve hatched a plan to showcase their beer at Hashigo Zake on June 23.

We’ll put their core range of four beers on tap, plus a seasonal. And if the stars align we’ll host the founders of Colab themselves.

So save the date – June 23 – for Wellington’s first chance to try Colab beer.

Live in the Lounge


Live music takes a break this Saturday, but we'll be more than making up for that the week after. Check out the schedule:

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)
 

On Tap Now

  • Wild & Woolly Basilisk
  • Oskar Blues Blood Orange Spesh-Ale
  • North End Forty South Green Hop Reserve (handpump)
  • Te Aro Fred's US IPA
  • The Laboratory Isotopic Pale Ale
  • Baylands Knight Ryder Rye Stout
  • North End O.S.B (handpump)
  • Murray's Paddington Barley Wine
  • Baylands Party Pils
  • The Laboratory Red Dwarf
  • Mike's Taranaki IPA

Coming Soon

Verhaeghe Duchesse De Bourgogne!!

Finally...
Any untappd users out there? Look out for another reason to check in your beers when you visit us, from next week.

 
Thursday, 30 March 2017 12:38

Enter the Dragon

 

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).



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