Monday, 18 July 2011

Bonsai Brewing

I was lucky enough to be invited to observe a morning's brewing at Garage Project.

The beers needed for the brewery's launch (August 2nd) and Beervana (August 5th/6th) are nearly ready, so on Sunday it was the first of a pair of pale ales using two new, experimental hops. The hop we used this day was the romantically named 97-77-09. Yum.

To someone who last brewed using nothing but kitchen pots and pans and a plastic fermenter it's eye-opening to see brewing being done on a homebrew-like scale, but using electronically controlled kettles, a heat exchanger, pumps and the like. And going by the samples of the still conditioning first batches, the benefits of the slick equipment are apparent.

Not that Pete and Jos have it all that easy. In the cavernous, unsealed, uninsulated former garage in darkest Aro Valley the ambient temperature inside was colder than that outside. Lack of heating aside though, the garage is clearly an ideal space for a brewery. We can but hope that the remaining bureaucratic obstacles (zoning, planning etc) that might restrict the guys' plans will be systematically dismantled as all the past ones have.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

An Open Letter to Dominion Breweries.

A Pyrrhic victory is a victory with devastating cost to the victor; it carries the implication that another such victory will ultimately cause defeat. – Wikipedia.

About two months ago you sent one of your emissaries to my bar to ask what it would take to get DB or Monteiths products into our product range at Hashigo Zake. Clearly some people in your organisation cared that your product range and corporate image have alienated the market, particularly the portion of the market that patronise bars like mine. Or perhaps you’re alarmed at the rate that freehouses are opening up in Wellington. I was in a conciliatory mood at the time and suggested just two preconditions – the appearance of a “killer” product and the elimination of the Radler problem.

Now I have good reason to believe that after getting litigious with the Green Man Brewery you had internal advice to walk away from the Radler trademark, but for reasons no-one can fathom you chose to stick to it.

Perhaps you were still giddy from the good fortune of having been granted a trademark that even IPONZ staff concede off the record was a mistake.

Perhaps you have some kind of obligation to your corporate masters in Singapore and the Netherlands to give no ground in legal disputes.

So with overall sales of beer falling but the market for small independent breweries growing you have a victory that demonstrates you have nothing but contempt for New Zealand consumers and other brewers. Rest assured that the feeling is quickly becoming mutual.

So now that IPONZ have chosen not to eliminate the “Radler problem” I can be less equivocal about my response back in May. The chances of any product of your group of companies ever being made available for sale at Hashigo Zake just went from minute to nil. And this year if your company’s executives come to Hashigo Zake looking for good beer after the BrewNZ Awards they will not be served.