Tag Archives: hashigo zake

emersons wake

 Let us leave theories there and return to here’s hear.

– James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

When the Thirsty Boys foregathered for their customary investigation of Hashigo Zake’s Tuesday new releases, it was in the shadow of the sale of Emerson’s Brewery to Evil Multinational Conglomerate™ Lion Nathan. This subject had already been source of much consternation on Twitterbook, Faceyspace, and other manifestations of the intardwebz.

But, was a wake in order?

The resourceful Thirsties agreed to test the proposition using the scientific method, i.e. a pro and con table. This is what we came up with:

Injection of capital into the Emerson’s operation Now DB might buy their own craft brand
Possibly some richly deserved bank for Richard Emerson himself Emerson’s production standards will go the way of Mac’s and Monteith’s
Better access to tied outlets Production volume rises at the expense of quality
Potentially more ‘craft’ beer in venues that otherwise sell only mainstream lagers Loss of customer loyalty owing to association with Evil Multinational Conglomerate™
Mainstreaming of quality product, assuming it stays that way.
More and better marketing.

On balance, we conclude that there may be less to fear than seemed the case at first blush. Perhaps the sky isn’t falling after all?

Note: The title of this post and the quotation are derived from Joyce’s mid-20th century masterpiece Finnegans Wake. The novel is the real time account of a dream experienced in a single night by Dublin publican Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker (HCE), apparently in the year 1132.

TEXT: The Jesuit

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Is this destined to be one of the last photographs ever taken of a Emersons beer poured at Hashigo Zake Cult beer bar? 6 November 2012


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Reflections on New Release Tuesdays at Hashigo Zake and GARAGE PROJECT 24 more

The second season of the Wellington based Garage Project 24/24 initiative is about to commence. If you have forgotten or not heard, the Garage Project’s 24/24 sees the tireless team of brewers release 24 beers in 24 weeks. The good news is they are doing 24 More…We posted on this highlight of the beer drinking calendar last year, here is the link: HERE

Of course, like last year, the venue is Hashigo Zake – cult beer bar in Wellington. Since August 2011, The Thirstyboys began to drop into this establishment every Tuesday night following the Garage Project releases. The 24/24 project sort of kicked started the New Release Tuesday (NRT), which morphed into an in-house curated weekly showcase of domestic and international novelties. Hashigo’s have made Tuesday night an early in the week craft beer event. It’s actually better than a Wednesday.

New Release Tuesday and Garage Project keg- I’ll have one!

With a year gone by and Garage Project’s 24 more starting tomorrow (Tuesday), the Jesuit and I (Malice) thought it timely to reflect on Hashigo Zake’s now well-established Tuesday night tradition. It feels like the end of a beer drinking cycle, a new season…

For those not in Wellington, there is a surprisingly supportive local audience for NRT. In fact, it’s almost cultish in the sense that NRT is a fixed point in people’s routines. Some of us make an effort to come every week and regret it when we can’t. Other congregants are more sporadic in their attendance. In acclaimed beer writer Phil Cook’s phrase “Hashigo Zake is beer church” and NRT is one of the sacraments – as the Jesuit would say “who among us is without sin?”

In Greasylightbulb’s phrase, NRT is actually “poetry club”. If you haven’t seen them, we hack out and post these beer haiku to save us the effort of writing up full tasting notes. NRT means we get to quibble over the form and punctuation of haiku and struggle with formulating a suitable seasonal reference. In Greasylightbulb’s world, when the love interest txts “where the hell are you?” He can honestly say “poetry club”.

Unidentified man at The Thirstyboys favourite beer haiku writing table

Hashigo Zake’s year of new releases has been eclectic: this means that what is on offer is not always appropriate for what is in season. However, you know it may be your only chance to sample a new release, or the product of an international brewer not well represented on New Zealand taps. NRT encourages punters to try a wide range of styles… I mean, unless you are an unrepentant hophead, how often would you would you go out and buy a triple IPA?

With NRT, you can rely on the fact that week to week the new releases are picked and the list is curated by people who are passionate about beer. NRT is always a surprise, even when you have looked it up beforehand on the Hashigo Zake news page.

A few words about Garage Project’s 24/24 and 24 More

As we said, we started attending Garage Projects 24/24  around August 2011… regrettably we missed the Venusian Pale Ale VPA and Lord Cockswain’s Courage Porter but we were there in time for the release of Red Rocks, and Aro Noir – The Dark Side of the Street. It’s fair to say we didn’t always relish some of their experiments; notably the notorious People’s Project No.2. Green Coffee Saison. Although the Garage Project did say “No. 2 might be our finest hour, or our greatest failure.”[1] Nevertheless, we always appreciated the spirit of experimentation (pun intended).

It’s a good thing to have Garage Project back in the NRT slot. Garage Project is distinguishable by a high order of professionalism allied with a predisposition to brew new beers. In a very short time they have shown they are good at what they do. They have a couple of decades of professional experience in their team and a restless inventiveness. Beer geeks nearly mobbed them at Beervana this year. Can they sustain it?

One would hope so, and part of their success will be linked to the seasonal services at “the beer church”. Hashigo Zake and Garage Project are a good fit. One is a promoter of a broad spectrum of craft beer, the other creates it. There is a synergy between them that makes them a perfect match for the benefit of beer amateurs and aficionados alike.

Now we aren’t shameless fanboys of the NRT or the Garage Project. You have to hand over hard earned cash to drink at the NRT and be part of exploring new frontiers in craft brewing. We have gagged on the spicy crisps, and left brews abandoned, half finished on the table…but that’s what makes the Wellington craft beer scene so interesting. That’s part of the adventure, and it’s always worth haiku-ing about.

See our blog posts on Garage Project Here and Here.

See our blog post on Hashigo Zake -Cult beer bar: Here.

Visit Garage project: Here 

Visit Hashigo Zake: Here

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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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