It's a pleasure to reveal that in spite of the accepted wisdom that Wellington empties out in summer we have been busy for the last week. Having live music on Christmas Eve helped, as did the fact that just about everyone else stayed closed on Boxing Day.
No doubt many of you won't read this until some time in January and we'll get a flood of those very helpful "out-of-office replies" to emphasise this fact. But for those of you with an email account that you don't depend on an employer for, or who, like us, are toiling away at your profession, it's pleasing to know that we aren't the only ones in denial of the traditional New Zealand summer shutdown.
In case anyone is left in any doubt, we are open every day, having taken our legally mandated day off for Christmas. We won't close again until Good Friday (April 6).
New Release Tuesday
As long as we're open then rituals like New Release Tuesday must continue. This week we cracked New Zealand's one and only keg of Mikkeller Vesterbro Wit (Anniversary edition). This hasn't yet been drained and anyone adventurous enough to try a hoppy witbier is in for a treat. Like the Feral Golden Ace that we had on tap recently, this is a case of a beer made in a particular Belgian style, at least in theory, but completely dominated by the windfall lemon flavours of Sorachi Ace hops.
Next week we'll take the opportunity to crack another of our stock of uncompromising Mikkeller beers. This time it will be the notorious 1000 IBU. We have actually had this in bottles before, but we aren't satisfied that enough people found out what a theoretical bitterness level thirty times "normal" tastes like.
It's generally understood that we can't perceive bitterness past around 100 IBUs, so in theory 900 of the 1000 IBUs in the beer are redundant. If that's the case then this beer really should be nothing to be afraid of.
By the way, to attempt to balance the bitterness of this beer it weighs in at a hefty 9.4% ABV. A "light" version of this beer has been brewed which is just 4.7%. Those who have tasted the light version can confirm that a thin bodied beer at 1000 units of bitterness is exceptionally difficult to drink.
We're in the middle of a mini-festival of Mikkeller beers right now. Anyone who hasn't at least tried Black is encouraged to try it while it's on tap - ideally as your last beer of the night. Unlike most beers with an ABV in the teens, this is not overtly sweet. There is plenty of sweetness there but it is dwarfed by the rich chocolate and coffee flavours and the intense bitterness. We're serving this sipping beer in 75 or 150 ml pours, so there's no need to be intimidated by the lofty alcohol level. Just pretend it's a sherry.
New Year's Eve Tapstravaganza
This Saturday night - also known as New Year's Eve - we're raiding the vault and bringing out many - too many - of our most prized kegs of imported beer. Fresh beer from Ballast Point, Bear Republic, Nøgne Ø, Coronado and Mikkeller will be all over our taps. Outside of the Pacific Beer Expo or Beervana you'll be hard pressed to find a lineup with as many exotic and sought after beers.
Liberty West Coast Blonde Ales
Last summer the very first beers from Liberty Brewing that we got to put on tap were Joe's West Coast Blonde Series. Joe made the same beer several times using different, single hops - Simcoe, Amarillo and Citra. As well as being delicious they were a fascinating opportunity to understand the character of the individual hops.
Liberty West Coast Blonde is back and this summer's Simcoe will be on tap any day. The worldwide shortage of Amercian hops means it's a while since a New Zealand commercial brewery produced a beer featuring Simcoe. But as a nano-brewer Joe Wood's requirements are modest compared to other breweries so for the foreseeable future (and at his current rate of production) Joe can keep us supplied with beers like these. Having said that the next in the series will be the same beer made with the local hop Pacific Jade.