The Great Pacific Beer Expo (PBE) review Part Two

22-23 October 2011

Wellington, New Zealand

Event by Hashigozake Cult Beer Bar

Text by malice with additional images by greasylightbulb (GLB)


photograph by greasylightbulb

This is Part Two of The Great Pacific Beer Expo (PBE) held on the weekend of 22-23 October 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand and run by Hashigo Zake Cult Beer Bar.

Hashigo Zake….I like saying that name…. Hashigo Zake! Anyway…

The second half of this event sort of took me across the Pacific ocean and back again and somehow I ended up in Australia miles away from the Pacific in more ways than one. The beers were pretty good, and the more I became absorbed in them or rather absorbed them, the more difficult it became to take useful notes and participate in meaningful beer conversations. I was there to drink beers man, so I’ll forgive myself.

Here we go…

8 Wired “Double Brown” Brown Ale 9% (New Zealand)

This 8 Wired was a 9… that is 9% and following on from the xeRRex at 10%, I think I had inadvertently decided to take the hard beer road around the Pacific rim, although not necessarily the one less travelled. I like it that the New Zealand based 8 Wired brewers follow the no.8 wire attitude, making do with what they’ve got and while that probably speaks more to their lack of brew kit than their skills as brewers there is little risk of getting something ordinary. That’s probably why they were the champion New Zealand brewery at the BrewNZ Beer Awards 2011. Good work guys. The thirstyboys have often talked about getting them to do a tasting across their range for us….hint.

A couple of the thirstyboys were drinking this Double Brown and the raw general consensus was it had a sniff of coffee beans on the nose, probably had some chocolate malt in it and it was brown. Characteristically, this isn’t surprising for a brown ale but unlike 8 Wired’s Rewired Brown Ale 5.7% (which is good) this is double brown…double! Get that down ya…

“A roasted toasted taste to it, chocolaty after taste”

“It’s a bit thin eh?…” “You always say that…”

Bear Republic Red Rocket Scotch Ale 6.8% (United States)

I pretended this beer offered some reprieve at 6.8 and noted that finally the taste buds had crossed the ocean to a US brewery – the Bear Republic Brewing Company in California. I couldn’t think straight on this and someone blamed it on the fact that that my nostrils had been ravaged by the xeRRex. According to the Jesuit though there was caramel and toasted marmalade in this brew but it wasn’t stellar by Scotch Ale standards. Where was the scotsman when you needed him…?

“not in the same category as a the Renaissance Stone Cutter…” the jesuit

“Don’t like this, jeepers its y***” Mr Horse

Moylans Kiltlifter Scotch Ale 8% (United States)

“Why do people always make jokes about the Scots and their kilts?” Mr Horse


Another California based brewery concocted this beer. My Celtic heritage was not helping me on this one and I was still suffering from the xeRRex but it was surprisingly light. A hint of caramel/chocolate, you could almost put it in your lunchbox and have it as your midday meal. Didn’t lift my lavalava though, I have to say…

“Not dissimilar to the Stone cutter… ” the jesuit

“I am deciding what to get next there is so much that I want!” Greasylightbulb

Bear Republic Big Black Bear Stout 8.1% (United States)

Someone pointed out to me that this beer with a rich coffee coloured foam had twice the abv as the Renaissance Craftsman Oatmeal Stout. It’s American, everything is bigger… my main memory of it was that it went well with the Hashigo Zake chocolate brownies on sale.

“Big black, chocolaty, lovely…” mr horse

Renaissance Tribute Barley Wine 10% (New Zealand)

Shit that’s boozy! That’s powerful stuff…” The Jesuit

“Oh Christ!” greasylightbulb

“Thick…much more like a sherry.” greasylightbulb

Enough said?

Feral Boris Imperial Stout 11.5% (Australia)

This beer came from the outer, outer, outer reaches of the Pacific Rim, on an island known as Australia, a half hour drive from the Perth CBD in fact. They are an award winning brewery but at this stage of the day, I had almost had it. This is the type of beer I’d put in a barrel and tie around the neck of a St Bernard dog before sending it off to rescue someone in the snow. There was a lot going on in this beer, and it was a real viscous volume to consume. As their website says they are “not boaring”…but definitely filling and a wee bit challenging. It was the last beer of the day and the Jesuit as usual had plenty to say.

“Tar-like, somewhat oily” the Jesuit

“Porridge with beer in it, a meal in itself” the Jesuit

“Would go well with a with a very strong blue cheese or at the other end of the spectrum a dense chocolate pudding” the Jesuit

“I was going there but I didn’t get that…” karorifryup

photograph by greasylightbulb


That was the end of my beer journey round the Pacific rim. I didn’t make it to Japan and its beers (damn!) which signalled to me that next time I should review the beer listing, plan my day, and map my itinerary more carefully. It was an occasion of missed opportunities, where I had rushed to the familiar instead of being more curious. Nevertheless, I was still surprised here and there by the brewers I thought I knew and my choices took me further afield as I took time, talked to others and studied the list.

As Hashigo Zake claimed, the Pacific Beer Expo aimed “ to treat Wellington and New Zealand drinkers to an unprecedented range of elite craft beers from the Pacific region in a festival setting”. They delivered. I enjoyed the event a great deal. It was nicely promoted, in a pleasant venue, well organised and the beer list was well curated. I purchased an extra souvenir glass on the way out and I glided, no… glid home along the waterfront. This wasn’t a stagger home affair.

In my mind, I think a challenge remains to further explore the ocean of Pacific beers. It is easy to write it off as a region of predictable and non-desirable possibilities where no serious craft beer enthusiast would bother to venture. I mean, what excuse can be made for a lack of curiosity about the legacy the colonials, the British, the Germans, the Dutch, the Americans, the New Zealanders and Australians left the Pacific in beer? What do the locals make, like and contribute to beer making and beer culture today? Like anyone who seeks new knowledge or experiences, we won’t know till we go there…until we drink those beers! Who else on the Pacific rim will bother? Are the Pacific Islands a beer drinkers’ edge of the world? The terra nullius of Pacific rim beer drinkers?

Some parting comments below about the Great Pacific Beer Expo from a few of the thirstyboys and others…thanks for reading.

“I don’t know…I am not good at quotes…brilliant really, a beer festival run by clever people. Worth waking up for…” Phil

“A lot of good beers, a lot of beer nerds, more sheilas than I expected.” the Jesuit

“Just proves that Hashigo’s is not full of blood sucking vampires” karorifryup

“It’s a line up of breweries to die for, great sunshine, well organised, my favourite is 30th street pale ale, but I’ll hit the stouts now.” greasylightbulb

My people…I liked everyone I met…which is difficult as a bartender” petey pete

“Something better than wonderful…no! Wait, wait, wait! Yeah, that sounds good.” Unidentified Parrot Dog beer person

You can follow the thirstyboys blog by clicking FOLLOW at the right. It’s easy. If you have any thoughts or comments on the PBE please post them by clicking COMMENTS on the left hand column…Gawan, gawan…

photograph by greasylightbulb


The full beer lineup for the Great Pacific Beer Expo

The Great Pacific Beer Expo (PBE) Review Part One

photograph by greasylightbulb


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