Next Week's Festivities #1
At the time of writing two pallets of beer from Nøgne Ø are fighting the traffic created by busloads of tourists and making their way from some northern port to our warehouse. This is the first time we've shipped beer directly from the Nøgne Ø brewery rather than via their Australian importer. As a result we had much more choice than before, particularly with respect to kegs. Not only that, we managed to snag space in a refrigerated container for the journey from Europe, which is pretty fortuitous.
The icing on the cake is that this more direct method of shipping has resulted in lower prices. Yes, you read that right - we've saved some money and are going to pass those savings on.
To celebrate, we're hosting a tasting on Tuesday of Nøgne Ø beer. By coincidence Tokyo-based beer writer Tim Eustace happens to be in Wellington. Tim has been associated with Hashigo Zake since well before we opened and is also a long-standing friend of Nøgne Ø's founder Kjetil Jikuin. He thought he was in Wellington to watch rugby, but we're coercing him into providing his insight into Norway's most adventurous brewery.
More details and bookings are at the Cult Beer Store.
Next Week's Festivities #2
We've had a steady flow of overseas visitors over the last couple of weeks and the influx should reach a new peak over the next 10 days or so, with the capital's last four games in the tournament we are forbidden to name. The question on everyone's lips is: what will we do with these foreign guests between games?
We have a solution for next Monday at least. We're taking a mini-bus to Martinborough for a thinking person's tour of good drinking and eating. Sadly Martinborough is without a brewery these days, but nearby Carterton has Crooked Cider so our tour will take in their business to break the monotony of one great Martinborough pinot after another. There will be a high quality winery lunch too. If you have an out of town visitor with gaps in their schedule send them down to us. More info is available at the bar.
Nøgne Ø isn't the only brewery that we are taking a delivery from this week. After about six months asking, negotiating and, well, head-scratching, we've finally got a long awaited refresh of our stocks of Rogue.
There isn't a single beer in this shipment that we haven't had before, but the long absence of beers like Dead Guy, Chipotle Ale and Mocha Porter should make up for any lack of novelty.
Having said that, there is one innovation of a sort in this order. The high strength "XS" beers that previously came in magnificent but daunting 750ml ceramic bottles now come in 207ml bottles. You can expect to see them on our shelves by early next week.
The Garage Project are all about experimentation and next week it's time for yet another unexpected turn. Their next beer is their lowest in alcohol so far at 4.5% and their first wheat beer. In their own words:
A light golden straw colour, this beer is based on the Belgian Wit style but with an orange and cardamom twist. This is not a hop driven beer. Instead it has an aromatic hit from the late addition red grapefruit, tangelo, orange and lemon peel, camomile flowers, vanilla bean and freshly crushed green cardamom.
Apparently they're still trying to settle on a "witty" name.
But there are several other pieces of good news too. Firstly the brewers have decided that it's time to start revisiting some of the early beers and are making random kegs of some of these re-tests available to us. Waiting to come on soon are twenty litres of a slightly modified Trip Hop.
More good news awaits in the news below regarding the Pacific Beer Expo.
An unplanned Yeastie Boys release has turned up on our doorstep. We're not sure how open Stu and Sam want to be about this little misadventure, but we think that this love child of one of their regular beers and an interloping yeast strain may have more legitimacy than they realise. When there was indecision about whether to recognise this strong, amber and oddly Flemish-accented beer, we said send it to us. The result - Red Rackham - will be on tap very shortly.
There is an unfortunate consequence of this improvised beer. See below under today's news regarding the Pacific Beer Expo.
Another Pacific Beer Expo Teaser
For the first and hopefully last time, we have some bad news to announce. The aforementioned "improvisation" that led to the Yeastie Boys Red Rackham has thrown out their production schedule. As a result His Majesty 2011 won't be ready by Labour weekend. We're confident that this week's announcements will make up for that setback.
Now for the good news.
Liberty Brewing will be present at the festival. In fact Joseph Wood has said he'll come down from the 'Naki for it. He'll be bringing a new batch of his C!tra Imperial IPA. This may just be the closest he's come to what was the beer of 2010 for some of us - his Summ!t Imperial IPA. (We'd encouraged Joe to brew Summ!t again, but sadly the hops weren't available.)
And speaking of lower North Island nano-breweries, Garage Project will be rubbing shoulders with our iconic Pacific imports too. They have no fewer than three beers planned, starting with the in-theme Ring of Fire. This is a strong pale ale hopped with some of the most famous varieties from the four countries included in the festival. That means Sorachi Ace from Japan (though grown in the US), Centennial and Amarillo from the US, Galaxy from Australia and Nelson Sauvin from the South Island. Whose accent will be heard above the din?
But over-delivering on variety has been Garage Project's signature. They've invested in a couple of 20L casks for "gravity dispensing". This is a posh way of saying the beer comes straight from a hole in the container. The beauty is that of all possible means of dispensing beer this one should have the least potential for interference from oxidation.
For these two dispensers they are brewing two beers. One is an ANZAC beer, inspired not by sacrifices on foreign fields, but by anzac biscuits. It's brewed with oats and golden syrup and is hopped with a combination of Kiwi Motueka and Australian Galaxy hops.
The second is a thoroughly English-inspired pale ale but made with all New Zealand-grown ingredients. It has New Zealand grown Fuggles, Goldings and Styrian Goldings and Canterbury Gladfield Ale malt and has been given an extra long boil for flavour and colour. Like next week's witbier, it's still waiting for the humorous beer name generator to be rebooted.
Finally, the arrival of our new shipment from Oregon's Rogue means we can add their American Amber Ale to the lineup.
Sport on Telly
We've had a lot of fun showing many of the matches from the tournament we mustn't name in the bar. But we face the coming weekend with a slight sense of discomfort. Some of our favourite customers have loyalties to other sporting codes that happen to have quite important games coming up this weekend.
First there's the grand final of the AFL, which coincides with one or two rugby games. If our friend Steph can rouse enough people with similar tastes we'll have no choice but to give in to her wish and give this event priority. To this end she has enlisted the Australian High Commission, who called to lobby on her behalf just now. So we may just create a diplomatic incident if we don't give in.
Then on Sunday evening there's another grand final coming from Australia, this time in a sport we believe is known as "loigue". Again, if we sense that the will of those gathered is to give this game preference over the event we can't name, then so be it.
We're quite excited about the latest addition to our range of snacks. Nuts and beer have gone together for a long time but we think we've found a pretty exceptional take on the humble nut to offer our customers. So from today cholesterol-free, protein-packed New Zealand-grown Chilli Macadamias are on the menu.