Trip Hazard

October 25 2014

Necessity is the mother of invention, but if she filed a paternity suit, my money would be on cock-up being the father.

Last year we had a little disaster. A 2000 litre tank of Trip Hop failed to ferment properly. I suspect a dud batch of yeast but despite every effort it simply ground to a halt. It’s not that it had an infection or any off flavours, it just seemed to lose interest. It didn’t taste bad, it just didn’t taste like Trip Hop should.

It’s not easy passing the death sentence on a brew. At other breweries I’ve seen a number of tanks go down the drain, or more inventively, be shipped off to begin a new life as malt vinegar – but we’d never had to make this call at the Garage, touch wood we won’t again. How would you feel saying goodbye to 4000 pints of beer?

There had to be another way.

At the time we just happened to have acquired a reasonable number of used white wine barrels. With nothing to lose, we packed as much death row Trip Hop we could into these barrels and dosed each one with a cocktail of Brettanomyces strains, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus. Although they are among the most feared of ‘beer spoilage’ organisms, these little critters are the basis of the European Lambic style and also have a penchant for unfermented sugars – just the ticket for a ‘stuck ferment’. So the lion’s share of the tank got a last minute reprieve, the rest was read its last rites. We tucked the barrels away safely and forgot about them.

A year and a half later we’ve tentatively tapped a barrel and packed a lone keg off to the Pacific Beer Expo. Thoroughly changed by its year of quiet reflection this beer now definitely doesn’t taste like Trip Hop. This batch of Trip Hop may be dead – but long live Trip Hazard. It’s not your normal brew, but it’s all the more interesting for it.

If you want to taste Trip Hazard you’ll have to get yourself down to The Pacific Beer Expo, this Saturday and Sunday 25-26 October.

Remember, cock-up is the father of invention.

Five Hop Down to Hashi

October 19 2014

“I say – this has boiled up into quite an adventure, hasn’t it?” – The Famous Five

This Monday 20th of October, Hashigo Zake is celebrating its fifth birthday.

Golly, five years!

Hashigo Zake will forever hold a special place in the collective Garage Project heart. Back in 2011, when Garage Project consisted of a 50 litre brew kit and a couch in a derelict service station, Hashigo Zake were absolute bricks. Our first ever beers were poured through the Hashigo taps and they were willing to take a punt on us, giving us a tap every Tuesday night for the 24/24. Without their support and encouragement, who knows how things would have turned out?

And of course it’s not just the Garage that Hashigo have given a much needed helping hand. It’s hard to overstate the importance of Hashigo’s contribution to Wellington’s craft beer scene. They’ve supported all new comers with equal and even handed enthusiasm and been the outspoken champions of good beer, all the time offering punters the newest, freshest and best beer in Wellington.   

To celebrate we’ve taken up Hashigo’s challenge to brew a ‘five’ themed beer. We’ve called it Five Hop Down to Hashi. It’s a rather hoppy little IPA using five smashing new ‘unnamed’ NZ trial hops, added every five minutes throughout the boil. It certainly is jolly resinous! Be warned, there are only two 20L kegs of this beer… just like the old days.

So make sure you get down to Hashigo Zake this Monday. You know the drill, things kick off at 5pm with loads of smashing birthday fun.

Needless to say, there’ll be lashings of awfully good beer.

[The original GP / Hashigo Zake launch poster]

[Coming out of retirement for a very special brief, the mysterious King Rat contributed the art for ‘Five Hop Down to Hashi’.]

The Chosen Few

December 17 2012

Last year Boundary Road, the “independently minded brewery nestled in the foothills of the Hunua Ranges” who also brew Tuborg, Carlsberg and Kingfisher beers under license, very generously sent twenty two thousand $5 notes to people who had expressed an interest in trying the brand’s new beer offerings.



At the time we were hard up against it trying to find enough cash to upgrade from our 50 litre pilot plant, and their marketing ploy seemed a tad extravagant to us. Jos cheekily suggested that anyone who didn’t want their $5 Boundary Road beer money could donate it to our fermenter fund as a way of helping us buy some more equipment.



A surprising number of people did pass on their stamped $5 bills and thank you very much to all of you who did. Fact is that it didn’t quite add up to a fermenter (they are expensive) and that left Jos and I with a neat little pile of fivers and the sense that we really ought to do something worthwhile with our ill-gotten gains.

Jos once more came up with a plan – why not use the money to make the most gratuitously extravagant beer we could imagine and then offer this to those who had supported us.

So this Tuesday night at Hashigo Zake we are proud to announce the launch of the beer we have christened The Chosen Few (aka. Mr. Truffleupagus). At its heart is a specially brewed strong blonde Belgian ale, to which we added 20g of freshly dug white bianchetto truffle that we first infused in honey, and then refermented with champagne yeast. The result is something you’ll just have to taste if you can make it down to Hashigo Zake this Tuesday night.

Those of you who gave us your details with your Boundary Road beer money will be contacted, but for those who anonymously donated (and be honest), it would be in your interest to make your way to Hashigo Zake this Tuesday and make yourself known to the bar staff. Hopefully we can make it the best $5 you ever did nothing to earn and then gave away.

All of you be warned, only one 20 litre keg of this beer exists and it starts pouring at 5pm on Tuesday 18th, so get in quick.

We would like to especially thank Jeff Weston from Borchii Park for sharing his knowledge of bianchetto truffles, Ace, Bonnie and Bellasconi, the truffle dogs responsible for finding this brew’s extravagant addition and without whom this beer would not have been possible… and of course, cheers to Boundary Road.


This is definitely one of our more playful beers. The base is our Bastard Rye, which had its debut at Hashi a couple of weeks ago and will appear in a number of forms over the months ahead. This particular batch was soured up and has been resting on cherries. We were having a taste of it to see how it was getting on when Jos just happened to play Lola by the Kinks, with that classic opening line.

“I met her in a club down in old Soho Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like cherry-cola”

The next thing you know our sour cherry rye is getting a dose of Six Barrel Cola syrup. The result is a bright cherry red beer with sour cherry palate and a whimsical cola finish. We’ve called it Lola. As well as being the musical inspiration for this beer, Lola is also the name of the Aro Park cat – the tabby who frequents the park beside our brewery - one of the few cats I know with its own Facebook page and definitely among the most charming and photogenic local Aro characters.

Lola the Aro Park Cat

If you’re keen to give Lola a try be advised that there is an extremely limited quantity of this beer in existence, so get down to Hashigo Zake from 5pm on Tuesday the 16th. First in first served.

Old Scratch

April 11 2012

The Devil will find work for idle hands to do

- The Smiths

It’s been some time since our last pilot plant release. We’ve been tight lipped about the reason for our little kit being idle (apart from a brief sojourn to the hop fields), but the fact is that Wellington is a pretty small place and what we’ve been up to over the last three months is probably no secret to anyone. Anyway, all will soon be revealed.

During our little pilot plant’s period of idleness we have had a keg of something tucked away in a dark corner of the Garage. This Friday, being Friday the 13th and all, seemed like a good time for its release.

There is a tradition of giving strong beers a demonic moniker. The Dark Lord really does have the best nicknames, and if you’re after a good Barleywine or Old Ale name there are rich pickings to be had. Consider Old Ned, Old Nick, Old One, Old Roger, Old Horny (or in the Scottish spelling, Auld Hornie), the old boy, old gentleman, old gentleman in black, old serpent, old smoker, old poker, old dragon, old enemy, old adversary, Old Billy, Auld Clootie and old gooseberry.

So in this tradition we give you (my personal favorite) Old Scratch. A British Barleywine of impeccably dark credentials, Old Scratch was brewed back on Friday the 13th of January, and will be served on Friday the 13th of April, after 13 weeks of conditioning. Brewed with Pale, Amber, Crystal and black malts it weighs in at 8.2% abv, with just enough English Admiral and Challenger hops to balance the hefty grain bill.

Two 19 litre kegs of Old Scratch will be available this Friday the 13th in the bowels of Hashigo Zake. Given the date’s association with ill luck it might be wise to get in early.