Saturday, 27 November 2010

Institutionalised Stalking

I'm getting asked more and more often about whether we will take some kind of official position with foursquare (the location service, not the grocer). And of course some time soon Facebook's answer to foursquare will be rolled out in New Zealand and presumably become dominant.

Is it just me or are location services the most insidious and potentially dangerous development in the short history of electronic social networking? It amazes me that people disregard the possible consequences of voluntarily creating their own public, electronic trail for whatever short term benefit it gives them. And facebook's feature that lets other people create your trail for you is even more mind-boggling.

Call me a curmudgeon, but I find the whole subject very troubling, especially since people seem to expect us to embrace the whole idea. (Hashigo Zake was "registered" as a location on foursquare months ago without me being consulted.)

Keen to get feedback....

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Roman Beer

This week Hashigo Zake was lucky enough to host a visit by Italian brewer, beer distributor and bar owner Alex Liberati. Alex is a knowledgeable and charismatic evangelist for craft brewing. He was also keen to soak up New Zealand brewing culture and find some candidate beers for his importing business. An improvised tasting was put together with bottles that Alex brought in his luggage combined with a few local staples and one or two experimental ones from local brewers. Then when we ran out of time Alex stayed an extra night so we could continue. In return barman/chef Sam put on a bowl of green lipped mussels that had our guest in raptures.

Next time Alex makes it this way we'll put on something more structured for a bigger audience.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Suspending Judgement

Blogger Martin Craig became a folk hero to many earlier this week when he revealed that he had secretly entered a commercial beer (Ranfurly Station Pale Ale) into the SOBA National Homebrew Champs and... it bombed. It scored 11/50 and was slated by the judges for various faults.

Since then there has been a little reflection amongst those close to the incident with respect to, shall we say, the ethics of entering someone's beer without their knowledge and in doing so breaking the rules of the competition.

Then today Martin's post disappeared. Fortunately for the curious, google has a cache.

It's tempting to jump to the conclusion that corporate and legal forces have been brought to bear on Martin. Or maybe he's taken pity on Ranfurly.

So should those of us who greeted the news of this guerrilla beer judging with glee also pause for a moment? Perhaps yes. I was reminded of the spat that broke out about a year ago when local brewer Stu McKinley harshly commented on a bottle of Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard on That beer had been imported to New Zealand under circumstances that Stone's President Greg Koch expressly disapproves of and tries to stop. It was "grey market" and had been shipped without refrigeration.

Greg vented on the realbeer forum. Other participants generally disregarded Greg's assertion of brewer's rights, but anyone who has tasted Oaked Arrogant Bastard in peak condition would probably side with Greg.

As an importer and retailer trying to avoid the grey market, and as a fan of Stone Brewing, I naturally took Greg's side in that spat. So to be consistent I guess I have to concede that the brewers of Ranfurly Pale Ale were not treated fairly on this occasion. But in my book brewing bland beer is a far bigger crime.

Now I wouldn't bother with a spiel like this unless it was somehow self-serving, so here goes. Hashigo Zake is about to strike a blow for brewers against the use and transportation of beer in ways that they don't approve of. But the real winners will be our customers. We'll make an announcement at the Hophead's Picnic tonight.