Moon Dog Visit
Forget the Sevens. We have a far more worthy form of entertainment on Saturday with a visit from Josh and Karl of Melbourne's Moon Dog brewery. The pair step off their flight some time on Saturday afternoon and we anticipate having them on the premises from around 4pm for a few hours of autograph signing, QandA-ing and, more realistically, standing around drinking.
Rumour has it there may be some small scale collaborative brewing going on while they're here too. We'll have to hope we get a crack at the result.
Live Music This Saturday
This Saturday night we host
sevens-friendly sing-along pub rock live jazz in the form of the James Illingworth Trio. The music starts at 10pm, well before the Sevens crowd descend on Courtenay Place.
In all seriousness, we make our annual plea to regular customers not to be deterred from coming in by the behaviour of the costumed revellers who attend (or frequently miss) the Sevens. Nights like this are the reason we have someone at the door.
Craft Beer College's controversial tasting of beers that may be categorised as "faux craft" returns on the Saturday afternoon of February 16. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested.
Just in the last week, Australia's Critic-in-Chief of dodgy beer marketing, Matt Kirkegard, has launched a campaign to draw attention to the dubious marketing of a beer made by CUB (Fosters / SAB Miller) but marketed as if it was brewed by some Byron Bay surfies. In that case a small brewery have allowed a big one to produce and market one of their beers while all but concealing the arrangement. It's not exactly the same issue as what many of us call faux craft, where a big brewery will revive or invent a brand that pretends to be small and independent. But it's pretty similar. And it draws attention to just how sensitive many consumers and producers of craft beer (whatever craft beer is) are about the behaviour of the industrial brewers and honesty in marketing.
Now when wandering into debates like this it would be helpful to have an informed opinion on whether these beers are actually any good. And to make objective judgements, all tastings should be conducted without knowing exactly what beer is being tasted and with a reliable benchmark to test against. And that in a nutshell is what happens at the Faux Craft tasting. The mystery of not knowing exactly what is being tasted adds to the entertainment and it can be a pretty entertaining and provocative couple of hours.
Superbowl Forty Seven
It's that time of year, when we de-stress after Sevens weekend by relaxing and cooking up something suitably American in preparation for Superbowl Monday. With the match being staged in New Orleans we have an excuse to crank out a hearty gumbo which should be a good match for some (possibly discounted) San Francisco beers for anyone supporting the 49ers.
Kick-off is sometime early on Monday afternoon (it's always hard to tell through the excessive ceremonialising).
The beards that many of our staff grow aren't our only homage to Rasputin, a pivotal figure in Russian history. Dutch brewery De Molen smartly recognised in Rasputin the perfect moniker for a serious Russian Imperial Stout. It's our New Release next week.
Is it right to drink an 11% Russian Imperial Stout in the middle of the best spell of fine weather in living memory? Let's not fool ourselves that every single beer is drunk for refreshment. Rasputin will be on tap and for sale in small glasses from 5pm on Tuesday.
Sadly they've been forced to rename this beer Disputin in the US because California's North Coast happened to produce a beer called Old Rasputin.
Hang on, the next few paragraphs are going to get a little weird.
Hashigo Zake is delighted to have been honoured by website ratebeer.com in their "Ratebeer Best" awards for the year of 2012. We were named New Zealand's best bar and are in some pretty esteemed company. While ratebeer has its biases and faults, it also has scale, credibility and built-in checks to prevent abuse. In fact those built-in checks are one of the reasons we are able to show well on ratebeer. At least twice we've been the subject of what might be called "crank" reviews by individuals whose inconsistent behaviour on the website means that their reviews of us don't count in any aggregations.
Now when these crank reviews appear we don't completely ignore them. But after some soul-searching we generally conclude that, as much as anything, they represent a failure in our management of the expectations of new customers. We do make an effort in that regard - from calling ourselves a "cult beer bar" to issuing ourselves with a Heineken-free Certificate. But in honour of "Willingtrony", "thirstystirrer" and Giovanni Tiso here's our next ad in Fishhead magazine.
By the way that Fishhead ad appears on the same page as a piece by Hadyn Green on beer snobbery. This is genuinely a coincidence.
So thanks ratebeer, we appreciate the honour.
These days our name is turning up on tripadvisor.com more frequently than on ratebeer. People are generally complimentary and we're grateful for the good reviews. However the very last one chose to praise us for the quality of the "real ale" coming from our hand pumps.
In case anyone accuses us of perpetrating a fraud, we state for the record that the beer coming from our hand pumps at this time does not fit the definition of a real ale. I.e. it is not being dispensed from a vessel in which it underwent conditioning. We have once or twice put a cask on the bar top and dispensed what can accurately be called real ale. But for the time being the best description for what comes from our hand pumps (or beer engines) is, perhaps, bright beer. We haven't given up on serving actual real ale, regularly, through our hand pumps, but some more trouble and expense will have to be gone through to achieve that. If any statement on our menu or website suggests that we're serving real ale on our hand pumps please let us know.
Beer and Brewer Magazine
So what then of the Beer and Brewer Magazine awards? Has anyone heard of them? Or the magazine for that matter? Over the last couple of years we observed the way these awards were dispensed and repeatedly asked the magazine's publisher, David Lipman, for an explanation of his process for choosing winners. We weren't satisfied with his explanation, which included an acknowledgement that the publisher kept the final say on any awards for himself. So we made a clear, unambiguous request not to be considered for any awards the next time they came around. There can be no doubt that this request was received and understood because David tried to enter into a lengthy dialogue about it.
In October last year the magazine held some kind of awards ceremony, winners were announced, we weren't amongst them and it seemed that the magazine had complied with our request. But then overnight a press release has appeared on Beer and Brewer's website liberally associating Hashigo Zake with some awards that the magazine has bestowed on New Zealand's beer outlets. This is unfortunate. Our previous stated position means we cannot acknowledge nor accept any such award.
A year ago we and some like-minded customers made a contribution via the web site kickstarter to the production costs of the movie Beer Hunter, about the late, great beer writer Michael Jackson. As part of our return on that contribution we have been sent a t shirt! We'll give it away to the first person who can reply to this email and give Michael's birthdate as listed on the back of the shirt. Warning: the shirt's an M and not a very big M.