La Calavera Catrina
Plenty of us have vivid memories of last year's pilot batch of Day of the Dead - the chocolate, chilli and agave infused dark lager, launched on 1/11/11, the Día de los Muertos. Many considered it the most successful of Garage Project's 24/24 programme.
Earlier this year it was followed up by Double Day of the Dead, brewed largely for Melbourne's Great Australasian Beer Spectapular in May. But some of that beer made its way to the local market and a little more made its way into bourbon barrels. Indeed we got a foretaste of the barrel-aged version at the Pacific Beer Expo.
Now it would be pretty exciting if all three of those variants on the Day of the Dead beer were available at one place and time. And they will - here, next Thursday, November 1. But Garage Project's brains trust aren't satisfied with that and have come up with a small batch of a completely new beer to commemorate 2012's Día de los Muertos. It's La Calavera Catrina - a maize lager brewed with organic smoked habanero and conditioned with rosewater and watermelon. The result is a spicy complex blonde lager. The artwork alone has been a major project, suggesting that Garage Project see a big future for La Calavera Catrina. But only a handful of people will get to tell their grandchildren that they were there when it was launched, at Hashigo Zake on Friday November 2.
(Reading up the historical and cultural meaning of La Calavera Catrina is left as an exercise for the reader.)
Pacific Beer Expo Credits
Many readers of this email will have attended the Pacific Beer Expo on Saturday or Sunday. Rather than tell you how successful it may or may not have been, we'd like to take time to acknowledge a pretty extensive list of people who made the whole thing work.
Craft Beer College's Steph Coutts and Jonny Day made sure we had a team of knowledgeable and dedicated volunteers. Again, this isn't the first time they've provided this service at a festival and do it so well that they're in danger of being taken for granted, which would be a travesty. They cobble together for us a team of volunteers who turn up so motivated that even after a long shift they seem convinced they've enjoyed themselves. It's hardly fair. So we thank Steph, Jonny and their magnificent team.
With little or no prompting some of New Zealand's best brewers changed their brewing schedules to let us have new or special releases that complemented the festival's imported beers perfectly. We were extremely lucky.
After putting ourselves through the stress of running our own catering operation last year, we took the smart option this year and engaged Sarah Searancke Catering. Their food, we think, was of a quality that completely vindicated the move.
And the Boatshed remains the best venue of its kind of Wellington. And incredibly it is almost unique in being available to hire without an obligation to use a particular caterer and/or brewery.
Finally it may not be decent to praise our own staff in public, but the fact is that they deserve it, especially after tolerating extra duties, long shifts and long demands on their versatility and patience. This was both before and during the event. In particular we rely on General Manager David Wood to keep the beer flowing in trying circumstances at this and several other festivals and he never lets us down.
Remember also that we're currently in a phase of "mopping up" Pacific Beer Expo leftovers. This means that small quantities of some pretty festive beers are appearing on tap then being quickly drained and replaced with other luxury leftovers.
We recently received a shipment from Mikkeller that included a number of kegs from their latest Single Hop IPA series. This series, which consists of 19 different beers, includes several that are new to us. In fact many of us had never even heard of some of the hop varieties themselves.
Now as part a previous "Single Hop" series, Mikkeller included an extra beer, called 10, that used a blend of all the hops in the series. This latest series led to a similar blend, called 19.
So next Tuesday we're putting both 10 and 19 on side-by-side as our new release. They'll go on tap at 5pm. And don't be surprised if more Mikkeller Single Hop IPAs appear in the New Release Tuesday slot in the near future.
The Return of Adam Page
Our original late Saturday night music act, Adam Page and the Counts, make a one-off comeback this Saturday night. We're pretty excited about it. But we still aren't charging admission. From 10pm.
US Presidential Election
Hot on the heals of next week's celebration of things morbid and grotesque comes the US Presidential Election on November 6 (November 7 to us). Our specially brewed batch of White House Honey Porter is fermenting away at Garage Project. We look forward to putting that on tap while vote counts and the pontifications of pundits are beamed to us via satellite and fibre all afternoon and, who knows, all evening.
Growler Howler, the Epilogue
Sanity, or perhaps inactivity, has prevailed and Hancock's application to trademark the name "Growler" has been officially abandoned. Sounds like the perfect time for Hashigo Zake Brands Ltd to sneak in and trademark it.