Tuesday, 21 April 2009
This is a brand new Nelson bar whose "soft opening" I snuck into. Two things are notable about the place. One is that they are, as the name suggests, a free house. The second is that they are occupying a former church. It's certainly a visually striking place, although with only a few tables and a few customers it felt a little empty when I was there.
The company has been registered, with me as the sole shareholder and director. Registering the trademark is under way but it sounds like that takes several months.
Yesterday I went on a one day course as preparation for gaining the "LCQ" qualification, which is a prerequisite for getting a bar manager's certificate. Although apparently I can't get the bar manager's certificate until there's a real bar to manage, which seems a little circular.
Off for preliminary talks with the bank tomorrow.
Dick Tout is still making beer, 200 litres at a time, under the Lighthouse name. Although he has moved from Nelson to a kind of industrial estate in Stoke. The pilsener was much as I remembered it and he also sold me a bottle of "Nelson Victory Ale", a very English pale ale with a distinctive biscuity malt flavour. In spite of the tiny batch size - or maybe because of it - he also does some contract brewing for 666 in Blenheim.
Monday, 20 April 2009
The Mussel Inn must be one of the best pubs in the world. It's remote, atmospheric, idiosyncratic, hosts great bands and best of all serves its own great beer.
It had been many years since I tasted the Captain Cooker Manuka beer and it was as good as ever. Although I will concede that it is a matter of taste. It struck me this time that the distinctive flavour is a tad phenolic, which is sure to help polarise drinkers. I think though that Manuka beer is New Zealand's greatest single contribution to the evolution of beer - ahead of Riwaka and Sauvin hops and, ahem, continuous fermentation.
I liked the lemonade and the feijoa-infused lambagreeny too.
Unfortunately I had to leave in a hurry on the morning after and had limited time for taking photos.
I was really quite impressed by both the Tasman Brewery beer and the success of their own little chain of pubs, all called (slightly confusingly) the Sprig and Fern.
The Tasman beer range is large (apparently there are 28 beers, ciders, soft drinks and alco-pops altogether) and very consistent. I tasted no bad ones and several very good. I particularly liked the spiced Summer Ale, the Harvest Pilsener (made with fresh hops) and the Wee Heavy.
The pubs themselves (I visited Hardy St and Milton St) are new and friendly and have a light, clean and unthreatening feel. Interpret that positively or negatively as you see fit. They are also doing a lot of business. Attached is a photo of the Hardy St bar, with Scott the manager in the background. One of the group's directors, David Barrett, pointed out that they intentionally installed the taps behind the bar, rather than on it, to minimise the distance from the kegs, and were told it would never work. Once he pointed this out I realised that this is something I saw often at craft beer bars in the States.
Friday, 3 April 2009
Rob Owen (treasure of SOBA) mentioned this issue to me - the absurd trademarking by DB of "Radler". Words can't do justice to the contempt I have for companies that pull this kind of stunt. I'm looking forward to hearing imaginative ways to make the perpretators realise quite how evil they are.
One of Hashigo Zake's exclusive offshore suppliers is sending a test shipment of Japanese beer shampoo. It may yet transform the business.