Tag Archives: beer drinking

BEER HISTORIES: The ‘six o’clock swill’

Guest Blogger: Stephanie Gibson, Curator Contemporary Life & Culture Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Many New Zealanders will remember the years of six o’clock closing of pubs. Urban pubs were often overcrowded, charmless places, where binge drinking took place in a race against the clock, resulting in the infamous ‘six o’clock swill’. Until the 1960s, alcohol could only be sold and consumed publicly in licensed places that provided accommodation. These were known as public hotels or ‘pubs’ for short.

In October 1917 New Zealand became the only country in the world to impose a nation-wide ban on the sale of liquor after six o’clock. Many believed that restricted access would result in less drinking. The ban lasted for 50 years until October 1967, when closing was brought forward to 10 o’clock by public vote.

Glassware, mid-1960s, by Crown Crystal Glass, New Zealand (GH021024-25, GH023164, GH024221, Te Papa) Standardised glassware was introduced by the Hotel Association of New Zealand (HANZ) in 1963.  The 8 ounce glass on the far right was favoured by male drinkers.  The smaller 7 ounce glass on the left and the small sherry glass were favoured by women drinkers.  Jugs were considered an innovation in the early 1960s.

Glassware, mid-1960s, by Crown Crystal Glass, New Zealand
(GH021024-25, GH023164, GH024221, Te Papa)
Standardised glassware was introduced by the Hotel Association of New Zealand (HANZ) in 1963. The 8 ounce glass on the far right was favoured by male drinkers. The smaller 7 ounce glass on the left and the small sherry glass were favoured by women drinkers. Jugs were considered an innovation in the early 1960s.

Until then, six o’clock closing dominated New Zealand’s social life. Drinking at the pub was mainly a male affair, with workers drinking as fast as they could on the way home from work between 5 and 6pm. Beer, the most favoured drink, was dispensed from plastic hoses (connected to a tank in the cellar) to speed up the process. Patrons could either drink at the bar, where their glasses were refilled by hose, or they could fill a jug and retreat to a standing table for a more leisurely intake. Pubs had little furniture in order to fit more drinkers in, and were lined with linoleum floors for easier cleaning which was often no more than a hose-down after patrons went home. Windows were frosted so that passers-by couldn’t see in and be tempted to drink. In practice, women could drink upstairs in more respectable private bars.

Some felt that early closing promoted poor drinking practices, while others considered it good for family life as it encouraged men to go home for dinner. Many believed that a worker’s leisure hours should not all be spent at the pub. The industry itself didn’t mind six o’clock closing because it meant shorter working hours. Staff were paid relatively well because of the limited number of pubs due to the restricted amount of licences available. However, in rural areas (particularly on the West Coast), six o’clock closing was widely disregarded as many workers had little opportunity to drink before six.

A crowd drinking at Porirua Tavern is captured on the last day of 6 o'clock closing in October 1967. Photograph by an Evening Post staff photographer. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington (PADL-000185)

A crowd drinking at Porirua Tavern is captured on the last day of 6 o’clock closing in October 1967. Photograph by an Evening Post staff photographer. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington (PADL-000185)

The liquor licensing laws imposed extra restrictions on Māori and women. It wasn’t until 1962 that it became an offence to refuse to serve liquor on the basis of race. Women could not be employed in bars except for members of the licensee’s family and barmaids who were already employed when legislation was passed in 1910. Consequently, professional barmaids were very rare and rather elderly by the time this particular legislation was repealed in 1961.

The introduction of licensed restaurants in 1961 began to transform social life, enabling patrons to drink alcohol with food. The combined influence of New Zealanders travelling abroad, the arrival of new migrant groups and growing numbers of international tourists, helped to broaden gastronomic expectations and develop the wine-growing industry. From the mid-1960s there was an explosion of new restaurants in New Zealand’s larger cities, and in turn pubs began to upgrade their facilities. Floors were carpeted, seats provided and décor improved.

Since then, New Zealanders have seen a massive liberalisation of the drinking laws and associated culture – possibly the fastest such change experienced anywhere in the world. By the end of the century, more alcohol was available through more venues and longer hours, and to younger people.

This article originally appeared in  Glory Days Magazine

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Seven reasons why we didn’t get a SOBA card sooner…

For at least two years now, possibly longer, a few of the Thirsties have been flashing around their SOBA cards, and bartenders have squinted at me across the bar asking “Are you a SOBA member?…are you a SOBA member?” They would shake their heads as week after week I would fail to produce a SOBA card.


SOBA is the Society Of Beer Advocates, “an independent, non-profit society whose main aim is promoting a wider availability of better quality beer.” Their slogan is “beer for all the right reasons”. As is often said, membership has its benefits and these vary from place to place, region to region. For example, depending on what establishment you are drinking at and what day of the week it is, you can get between 10% and 25% off your purchases of tap beers on presentation of your card. SOBA publish a magazine called The Pursuit of Hoppiness offering beer related news, reviews, articles and other stuff you’d expect to see from a serious society. They even have t-shirts, caps and glassware…

Anyway, I (and one or two others) finally decided to apply for SOBA membership. I put in my application and within a few days I received in the mail a membership card, a letter and even a cockadoody badge! I have since saved a few dollars, (membership will pay for itself very quickly) and I feel like I am taking on the pursuit of hoppiness with greater purpose in what beer scribe Martin Craig describes as the “Golden age of craft beer in New Zealand”. Why did I (we) wait so long? I canvassed the SOBA members and non-members around the table and we came up with the following Seven reasons why some of us didn’t get a SOBA card sooner, and why some of us probably won’t get a SOBA card ever…

1.We ‘re not cool enough

2.We’re not cheap

3.We have more money than brains

4.SOBA used to have the reputation of taking months to get the card to you (they don’t)

5.We’re idle

6.We have too many damn cards in our wallets already…Snapper card, Life Pharmacy card; Coffee card; Mini Coopers card; Farmers Beauty card; Unity Bookstore card; A (dead) Real Groovy Records Card….


Click this link to see the recently announced Society of Beer Advocates Award Winners 2013 

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,900 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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My Year of Beer (+ free bonus cake recipe)

Text: The Lady Pie Maker

October marks the first anniversary of the foundation of the Thirstyboys’ Ladies Auxiliary, which means I have  been heading down the stairs to Hashigo Zake most Tuesday evenings for the past 12 months. As such, the Thirsties asked me to reflect on my first year of beer.

While I happily sipped shandies made by my uncle when I was 10, the taste of beer never appealed as I moved into my teens, student years and beyond. Kegs, yard glasses, six packs, pints and halves were all foreign concepts. I grew to look down on beer, and beer drinkers to boot. Tui naturally had a lot to answer for. I thought beer was beer, and I didn’t like it or the culture that surrounded it –  that was until I was lured into Hashigo’s basement one evening by a Thirsty Boy. While I stubbornly clung to my chardonnay at first, eventually I began to brave each week’s new release – a sip here and there, and eventually a half of my very own.

A Singaporean Jungle Beer jolted me to my senses. How surprisingly delicious. I could like beer. I had found my beer, except that it was a one off special keg, so within an hour of being found I was lost again.  A few weeks later a porter by the Garage Project, famously described by the Draughtsman as like ‘drinking a whole f&#%$ Christmas cake’, made me realise I well and truly preferred the dark side to the light.  2013 became the year of the great imperial porter.

On a succession of amiable Tuesday’s, when the topic of conversation is always and often only about beer, I have learned the following:

Beer is not just beer. Beer comes in an amazing array of styles and flavours, and is made from all sorts of weird things from chillies to avocado leaves and weasel poo. Who would have thought?


Weasel poo, or more correctly civet cat poo featuring highly desirable excreted coffee beans.

Despite expanding my drinking horizons considerably, I still don’t like drinking across the spectrum (unlike Malice). I like imperial porters on the whole, and the occasional Saison – which is just a nice word to say as well as tasting a little like chardonnay.

'The Luggage Porter'. Post war tin toy.

‘The Luggage Porter’. Post war tin toy.

On a cautionary note, however, three imperial porters in a row is simply one porter too many. It can only lead to trouble. I am yet to find my sessionable beer.

Beer doesn’t only go with rugby and racing. Beer goes with poetry and great conversation, and best of all – with cheese.

Cover of Rod Derrett’s classic 1965 record, Rugby, racing and beer.

Cover of Rod Derrett’s classic 1965 record, Rugby, racing and beer.

Craft brewers are an inventive, irreverent and interesting breed, culturally engaged and culturally playful. I like it.

blanket man

Wellington in a Pint winners, 2012.

Beer bars no longer have sticky floors, and are pretty convivial places just to be. Some even have flowers.

Mikkeller's Bar in Copenhagen - a fist-banging free space designed by Femme Regionales

Mikkeller’s Bar sans punters – a fist-banging free space designed by Femme Regionales

Beer and style can go together (see Beervana 2013).

Beervana 063

Stephen dressed for a Sherlock adventure at Beervana 2013.

Wine might have legs, but beer has Belgian lace.

Beer makes a mighty fine baking ingredient.

The MightyThirsty Cake, otherwise known as a porter chocolate cake best served with porter syrup and 'clouds' of cream.

The MightyThirsty Cake, otherwise known as a porter chocolate cake best served with porter syrup and ‘clouds’ of cream.

In thanks to my year of beer, here is the recipe for the truly magnificent MIGHTYTHIRSTY CAKE


100 grams each of raisons and dried pitted dates and prunes

250 mls porter beer (I used Three Boys – get a 500ml bottle as you’ll need more later)

2 Tbl brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon


6 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

175 grams caster sugar

200 gram ground almonds

30 grams cocoa, sifted in theory

1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice

1 tsp baking powder


250 ml Porter beer

160 grams brown sugar

1 cinnamon stick


FRUITY BIT: Chop fruit, pop in a medium sauce pan with other fruity ingrediants. Bring the porter to boil, and simmer for 10 mins, stirring every now and again. Cool for 5 mins and then wizz in a blender. Cool some more.

CAKEY BIT: Whisk eggs, vanilla and sugar in a big bowl and add wizzed fruity mixture. Combine almonds, cocoa, 5 spice, baking powder, and then add to egg/fruit mixture.

Pour into a 22cm spring form tin that has been lined with baking paper. Bake for 40 mins, or until skewer comes out clean, at 170 degrees. Cool in the tin. Pop on a plate.

SYRUPY BIT: Put all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to boil, and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Simmer vigorously for about 10 mins or until reduced and thick and syrupy (this took me more than 10 mins).

HOW TO EAT: Dust the MightyThirsty Cake with icing sugar, and serve each slice with a dollop of whipped cream and a generous splash of syrup. Serves 10 to 12 in theory.

BEER MATCH: Sam from Hashigo Zake, after conducting a professional tasting, recommends pairing your MightyThirsty Cake with a glass of Left Coast Voodoo Stout.

A CAKE YOU EAT WHEN: feeling mighty.

A glass of Voodoo – the perfect MightyThirsty Cake match.


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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 www.hashigozake.co.nz

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