Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Yeastie Boys and single malt dance card


Curated by Gingerbeardyman

Presented by Stu McKinley of Yeastie Boys

Hop Garden


7 June 2011

“It’s the hardest thing in the world to create a beer and not name it”

Stu McKinley (Yeastie Boys)

There was some anxiety about this tasting among the Thirstyboys as the gingerbeardyman lined himself up to curate a list of beer and whiskey match ups. Some of us wondered whether this tasting would be a stagger, crawl or taxi home affair.

The gingerbeadyman (GBM) is a tall Scotsman, a card player, artist, golfer and family man. He did well to invite and partner up with local brewer Stu McKinley of Yeastie Boys and we are grateful for his commentary and presence throughout the evening.

The gingerbeardyman outlines the development of this memorable tasting:

GBM: It all began one Friday evening with a sniff of Rex Attitude, a love of whisky, a few fortuitous tweets and a mutual admiration for Scottish kitchen sink romantics Arab Strap, all of which led me to persuade Stu, one half of the Yeastie Boys, to join us for a very different session of beer club.

I have included throughout my notes of a few of the tweets that shaped proceedings. We begin below:

Gingerbeardyman @phil_cook just trying the Rex Attitude @yeastieboys and enjoying the challenge, thinking whisky w/beer tasting can work for June, thoughts? yeastieboys @Gingerbeardyman @phil_cook can I be of assistance?

@Gingerbeardyman just working on Tuesday’s tasting, I spoke with Stu the other day and he’s in, and will bring a surprise

Fools Gold (hand-pumped) with Baldnoch 16 year old

@phil_cook @HopGardenWgtn @Gingerbeardyman Bladnoch and Fools Gold seems like a go to me.

Fools Gold 5-6MP

Fools Gold is named after the English alternative rock band Stone Roses’ song of the same name (1989). It has been brewed in a session style and comes in at just over 4%. Based on the Townshends Cathcarts NTA from New Zealand, it is an English inspired ale in its own right.

Baldnoch 16 year old  3-4 MP

This whiskey was not a distillery bottling but rather an independent single casking. It has a rich caramel flavour, and is in fact a bit sweaty. Adding water would make it a bit grassy.

GBM: Unfortunately, this did not work in the slightest. I had it in my ginger nut that my favourite aperitif style dram, full of lovely citrus and spice, would be great match for the Fools Gold. I had the 10 yr old Flora & Fauna bottling in mind but alas there was none.  Instead, this particular expression was stewed in too much marmalade and heavy sweetness that engulfed what is usually a gentle but complex spirit. But on the flip side it did allow the Fools Gold to cleanse our pallets in a most pleasurable manner.

Her Majesty 2010 with Dalwhinnie 15 year old

Her Majesty 2010 7MP

This brew is named after the second full length album (2003) by the Decemberists, an indie folk rock band from the United States. Seemed like a vintage beer, a Baltic porter with a Belgian yeast.  

GBM: This could be called a Dubbel Bruin, a really spicy rummy, raisin beer which from memory past muster with all the Thirstyboys on the night and would probably have gone equally well with some Spring Bank 10 yr  old.

“It is too slow for a  Bond movie, too much brains…” gingerbeardyman

“The best Yeastie beer I have tasted” Stu

Dalwhinnie 15 year old (43% Vol)

“A classic highland  flavour…”gingerbeardyman

The Dalwhinnie is a classic highland heathery and refreshing malt. There was a liveliness in this whiskey. It was not dominated by a single flavour (like an Islay can be said to predominantly medicinal) but perfectly harmonised aromatic and subtle peat notes to produce a superbly balanced dram. It was fragrant, fruitcake-like in flavour.

GBM: This firm, refreshing dram that has yet to disappoint showed all its refreshing hoppy sweetness rounded off in an incredibly long and oily finish which complimented Her Majesty very well.

“Let us not forget that the highlands are not particularly high” Jesuit

(GBM: That said, it still remains the highest distillery above sea level in the world)

His Majesty with Highland Park
12 year old

@ Yeastie Boys @phil_cook @HopGardenWgtn @Gingerbeardyman

I’ve got some homebrewed Saison and His Majesty 2010. The latter might go well with Highland Park 

His Majesty 8.5MP

At the time of drinking this beer was 8 months old and was released at Christmas 2010. Every year’s style is different. This is like an Imperial ESB not a barley inspired wine. It is incredibly Moreish.

GBM: A beer that balances sweetness and citrus flavours admirably while not over playing its high alcohol levels.

Highland Park 12 year old 7MP

The HP is probably the best all round malt with all the highland character of fragrances, spices and heathery notes alongside homely smokiness reminiscent of good Islay but with a restrained  subtlety of character.

GBM: A sigh of relief as we have probably the first truly good match between whisky and beer, as both drinks contain an often elusive balance – a great deal of sweetness while remaining very refreshing.

“A rich malt, its got smoke and ashes” Stu

“Incredibly easy drinking, verging on mothers milk…” Jesuit

Rex Attitude with Ardbeg 10 year old

Rex Attitude 8MP

“The man points are in the enormity of it…” scotty

According to the brewers, Rex is the world’s first beer made from 100% heavy peated distilling malt, with earthy lemony hops. It certainly conjured up a range of reactions.  

GBM: It stinks, in fact reeks of kerosene, dry brittle smoke and bacon fat and it takes a good few moments to be able to get your brain round what it is doing to your nostrils. But given some time to warm, it offers up cereal character reminiscent of a hearty porridge cooked only in water and salt.

“Fire in the hole…”KaroriFryUp

“Very meaty, like bacon/pork…”

“Meat gone bad”

“When I first smelt  it was campfire”

“Like a wet weekend  in the Tararuas” GreasyLightbulb

“The most polarising beer of the year. People will hate themselves for liking this beer!” tvdisko

“Anyone like a ginger ale?” Scotty


Ardbeg 10 year old 8.5 MP

 Oatmeally, gravelly and dry as buggery, yet remaining fresh and clean on the palate. Not as overpowering in its medicinal nature as its neighbour Laphroaig but certainly broody and contemplative.

GBM: I believe I found myself lost in the moment as I quickly plunged my neb deeply in to the glass of one then the other as I searched for different qualities in the smoke. What stood out was how much the Rex could hold up to the Ardbeg in its boldness in the nosing but I believe the whisky offered a greater complexity. On the palate the Rex is far more aggressive and the oily nature of the whisky helps carry its boldness with greater aplomb.

The whole experience was incredible fun and caps should be doffed to the Yeastieboys  for creating such a  unique proposition.

“If I only had one drink every day this would be it…” gingerbeardyman

“You’d get sick of it though…” stu

 This was an excellent match

Bonus beer:

Stu brought a surprise with him.

Fools Farmhouse Gold 5%

This was a homebrew only 5 weeks old. We rated it  6+MP [with advisory]. Same hops as Fools Gold but with Saison yeast – this was  about the 4th beer made with this yeast. It tastes bigger than the 5%. A very clean beer, a “session Belgian” perhaps and “mordant but zesty” in character.

“Huge mouthful, a big rounded beer” gingerbeardyman

“Trenchant” Jesuit

“I held a little for me” scotty

The Yeastie Boys and single malt dance card provided the Thirstyboys with a great nights drinking. There was a little schooling up,  some new tastes, and insights on familiar and emerging brews that would surely turn into favourites. There was a great deal said, but the final word has got to come from Stu himself who offers a comment that speaks of things to come…and beers to look forward to.

“I have a headache of names of beers I have not created yet…” Stu McKinley

@ Yeastie Boys @Gingerbeardyman
@revolucion267 @GeneralZ0d58 I feel privileged to have been invited. So manly. Can we do another in 365 days? All homebrew

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Some links:

Phil Cook’s analysis and musings on the Rex Attitude

and Fools Gold

For another perspective on the Rex and some great images

Home of the Yeastie Boys

About the Ardbeg


In “Our Favourite Places” feature, the Jesuit acts as editor for a series of short reviews of bars, breweries and beer drinking venues from across the archipelago.


Cult beer bar

 photographs and text: the Jesuit

Location: 25 Taranaki Street, Wellington, New Zealand
– just behind and immediately below Zibbibo. This location has been home to a number of venues of varying degrees of longevity, most recently we believe The Monkey Bar (circa 2000-07/08). However, Hashigo Zake has occupied the premises for just over two years and looks like staying, despite or perhaps because of a recent influx of competition.

Ambience: They’re clearly going for some version of understated Japanese elegance and more or less bring it off. This aesthetic is most evident in the area immediately around the bar and the tables in the northwest corner. The lounge that occupies most of the southern half of the premises is somewhat more cosy, or slightly divey (in a good way). In any case, the low ceilings – a reminder of the space’s origins as police cells.

The music selection tends towards unobtrusive Indie and there’s a video display that not only lists all the current tap beers but also tells you what you’re listening to at any given moment.

Beer:  With eleven frequently changing taps, including a couple of hand pulls, and dozens if not hundreds of bottled beers from throughout the world, Hashigo Zake can easily claim the widest selection of any Wellington venue. Only the venerable Malt House is even within striking distance. What’s more remarkable is that the owners achieve this status without recourse to the numerous mass market lagers that infest almost every other specialist beer pub in the city. They even have a certificate near the front door proudly declaring themselves a Heineken Free Zone. Cop that one, St. John’s Bar!

More to the point, Hashigo Zake has been in the forefront of bringing beers from as far afield as Denmark, Norway, Québec, Brazil, and Japan to Wellington. Not to mention lots of great stuff from the States and the cream of New Zealand’s craft beer crop. It’s almost guaranteed that even the most well travelled beer aficionado will find something novel on every visit.

Food: By their own admission, Hashigo Zake has a tiny and barely serviceable kitchen with the result that their food offer is confined to a few Japanese themed bar snacks and a range of spicy hand made pies. On special occasions they have been known to extend themselves as for example during this year’s Super Bowl when they offered a particularly enticing Chilli con Carne.

Staff: The staff are generally friendly but always well-versed on their inventory. If they don’t have a particular beer in stock, they’ll gladly offer an alternative selection that’s as close as possible to what you were after and sometimes even better. As with any good beer venue, they’ll happily provide samples of anything on tap and will often provide insightful commentary.

Clientele: Hashigo Zake has always been a bit blokey although the number of women patrons has been increasing noticeably over the last year or so. Aside from the odd suit (myself included), most of the regular punters are endearingly anorakish, the kind of studious types that other parts of the world might devote themselves to spotting trains or sifting through bins of rare vinyl (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Summary: The Thirstyboys are somewhat divided in our appreciation of Hashigo Zake. For some of us the range and variety of the beers on offer is more than sufficient to offset a few minor quibbles, such as the limited food offer. For others, the close confines of the space make it less attractive to stay for an extended time. On balance, if you regard drinking beer as an end in itself and value the adventure of discovering the exotic and unknown, Hashigo Zake provides broader stretches of unexplored territory than any  comparable venue in this country.

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LINK: hashigo zake website

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Garage Project 24 /24

Hashigo Zake – cult beer bar



5 September 2011

It’s …about approaching things with a garage mentality. It’s about playing around, making do and thinking outside the box.” Garage Project

I have heard of garages being used as pool rooms, bedrooms, meeting rooms and used for Samoan tattooing, hydroponic horticulture projects and parties, but I’d never heard of them being used for beer brewing, although I was not surprised.  You see, garages the world over are for storing things, making things, and tinkering or experimenting with what has been stashed away or what comes to hand.

We are only just catching up with the Garage Project (because we have, y,know day jobs). It is an interesting brewing concept set in a local Wellington garage.  Experimentation is at the heart of the Garage Project as is the challenge of working to a gruelling beer brewing timetable. According to the three brewers, Pete and Ian Gillespie and Jos Ruffell, the guiding principle of the Garage Project and motivator behind 24/24 – is to brew 24 new beers in 24 weeks. The brewers say they are “nano brewing” rather than micro brewing – they are working on a very small scale, enjoying the opportunity to experiment and be nimble in their process. You can read more about Garage Project

We thought it was worth commenting on the Garage Project because it is building a profile and drawing a few keen drinkers down to the dark depths of Hashigo Zake – cult beer bar on Tuesday afternoons. Our engagement with the project began three beers ago, just before the half way point.

Here we check out two Garage project beers – brewed for weeks 11 and 12 of the big 24…


11/24 Red Rocks MP

We went to Hashigo Zake cult beer bar in downtown Wellington right on 5pm to find out what all the buzz was about. Waiting for us was Red Rocks, beer number 11 of 24. There were only 19 litres available.

Red Rocks is a hoppy red ale, named after the sea shore location of the same name on Wellingtons south coast. Yes, the rocks are actually red in places. The Jesuit and I had a half pint off the tap. It looked good and tasted great. The Jesuit decided that it was “Not as hoppy and not as overwhelming as a New World IPA”. He remarked “It is very Belgian!” After a few sips a sour after taste becomes apparent. It was a good drop and one we got through quickly, but we left before the keg dripped dry.

There were little square feedback coasters for the Garage project (see image) with the questions “What did you drink?” and “What did you think?” They asked us to rate the beer, from 5 (great) to 1 (not so great). We gave it 3.5…

Red Rocks went well with the chocolate brownies they were serving at the bar to celebrate Hashigo Zake’s 2nd birthday (more on Hashigo Zake in a future post); it was an unusual combination consumed in the spirit of experimentation. I’m sure the Garage project lads were into that.

12 September 2011

12/24 Salt and Pepper Porter MP

The Jesuit and I were joined on the 12th by gingerbeardyman and Karori Pai Ita at Hashigo Zake for the release of the Salt and Pepper porter. Once again there were only 19 litres which was a pity because it was really more-ish. The beers were served quite cold and gingerbeardyman would have preferred his beer a bit warmer. He said it had hints of pepper on the nose, and was a little bit briny. It had faint coffee tones and a dryness of taste.

“Best to drink after dinner with a
cheese platter before you start on the whiskey…”

 We had a chance to talk with one of the brewers Jos Ruffell who was in attendance. It was great to hear first hand from him of the projects origins; about the transformation of an Aro Valley garage into a Health and Hygiene certified premises, and that the old sofa in the garage was bigger than the actual brew kit.

Aaaah…three guys making beer in their garage and selling it to random people…it’s that Kiwi do it yourself thing. Made the Jesuit go misty eyed about his punk days playing bass in a garage in Christchurch.



Garage Project

Pint-sized brewery opens in Wellington by Jono Galuszka

Beer Diary Podcast episode 5: The Garage Project by Phil Cook

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Man Points (MP) are a largely subjective unit of measure used by the Thirstyboys to denote satisfaction with a given beer. Man Points are allocated on the basis of factors such as complexity, balance, or occasionally weirdness. Because the Thirstyboys are not extremophiles, Man Points do not necessarily reflect such object factors as ABV or IBU. In general, a big, boozy ale is more likely to be awarded high Man Points if the booziness is well disguised.

Correct application of the unique Thirsty Methodology™ will ensure that a well made albeit light Golden Ale will garner more Man Points than an ultra-hoppy but fundamentally uninteresting IPA or an Imperial Stout that has nothing more to recommend it than high alcohol content. In general, nasty mass market lagers will accrue low to negative Man Points especially if “brandwank” is involved (with apologies to Phil Cook for appropriating his terminology).

Man Points are scored from roughly zero (worst) to ten (impossibly good). In the interests of precision, half points are allowed. The Thirstyboys indicate their scorn for egregiously bad beers by awarding negative points (see below for examples).

In the interests of scientific enquiry here are a few examples to indicate the approximate calibrations for awarding Man Points.

Westvleteren 12                                     9.5 MP[1]

8 Wired iStout/Renaissance                  8.0 MP


Tuatara APA                                         7.0 MP

Three Boys Wheat Beer                       6.5 MP

Epic Pale Ale                                        5.5 MP

Monteith’s Original[2]                           3.0 MP

Monteith’s Single Source[3]                 1.0 MP

Stella/Heineken/Steinlager                   0.5MP

Bud Lite                                               -2.0MP

On occasion, the Thirstyboys have felt inspired to use other equally scientific scoring systems as the occasion demands. For example, a tasting of Session Beers employed a scale based on Scout Badges. Emerson’s Bookbinder was awarded a consensus score of 4.5 Scout Badges. Another time, when Bruce organised a tasting of Quebecois beers, it was agreed that cultural sensitivity required us to Fleurs de Lys as the basis for our rating system.

the jesuit 12/9/2011

[1] Because, if only theoretically, it should be possible to improve on what might be the Platonic ideal of a Belgian Quadrupel

[2] Most of Monteith’s regular line score about the same except their Summer Ale (0.5 MP), which is vile, and Radler (0.0 MP) on general principles. The only further nuance is covered by the next footnote.

[3] Brandwank!

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