Saluting the Major

So it’s been a big week for me.  The so-called ‘soft’ opening of Golding’s on Monday was a smash-hit, with the place packing out.  Since then it’s been busy every night and I’ve worked quite a few long days in a row.  The next big hurdle is the Grand, or what I like to call ‘hard’ opening tomorrow.  It’s looking to be another sell-out night, with half of Wellington inviting themselves along.  Feel free to pop along yourself, all are welcome.  Just don’t expect much in the way of elbow room.

An just to entice you down, we’ll be sticking a couple of treats on tap.  First of all, another keg of the Funk Estate/Baylands Brewery Big Red Ryeding Hood.  This was the darling beer of Monday’s opening: a big, malty, hoppy, rye-y IPA.  Very fresh and a little angry, but all the better for it.

The other beer, is something a bit different.  You see, I was at the Garage the other day (well, two months ago) and told Pete the Brewer about my new job at Golding’s.

Pete: “Congrats Dude.  Hey, we should make a beer for the opening,” said Pete.

Me: “You read my mind, Old Bean,” (or something like that).

Anyway, we got to talking and collaborating and so on.  Pete wanted to make something with lots of Golding hops (for obvious reasons).  I wasn’t so keen.  East Kent Golding is all well and fine as hop varieties go, but it’s not much fun in my opinion.  I wanted to do hoppy wheat ale.  As readers will know, I had a summer-romance with one a little while back.  Suddenly I had an idea.

Me: “What if we made an English Wheat Beer?”

Pete: “A what?”

Me: “What if the England had a traditional, native wheat ale?1  What would that be like?  Kind of like a bitter or a golden ale, but with a fair dose of wheat-malt and a clean British ale yeast”.

Pete: “I see.  Sounds interesting.”

Me: “We could hop it with lots of Goldings.  It’ll be like a English/German hybrid: British hops and yeast, but with German wheat malt.”

And so it was settled.  We booked in a brew date (no mean feat, considering how busy they are at the Garage) and off we went.

I turned up on brew-day at some ungodly hour (9am. That’s ungodly by my standards).  Pete was in the middle of brewing a batch of ANZAC on the big kit.

Pete: “Hey Dude, I’ve been thinking.  I like this English/German hybrid idea.  Lets expand on that and use a combination of English and German hop varieties.”

Sounds good to me.  We got down to arguing the malt bill.  I was keen to do a split malt bill 30-40% wheat with the rest Golden Promise, but Pete disagreed.  He reckons too much wheat can be a bit ‘yucky’.  I’m only a causal home brewer, and he’s the experienced professional, so I bowed to knowledge and experience on that one.  We went with a Golden Promise base, and 15% wheat.  Pete also wanted to drop in a bit of Caramel and Aroma malts, to make it a little more Englishy.  That fitted in with the concept, so I was down with it.

We milled, we mashed, we re-circulated.  All very standard stuff:

Mashing

I had my best brewing-face on.

Brewing faces may or may not contain beards.

Brewing faces may or may not contain beards.

I was a little concerned about the mash sticking, this being my first time using wheat.  I was there for the first Summer Sommer brew, which had an awful stuck-mash, that time from rye.  I could just envision a 10-hour brew day, but my fears were unfounded.  Everything went smoothly.

Like silk.

Like silk.

After running off, we got a healthy boil going, and started adding hops.  The same triple combo was used throughout the whole process: East Kent Goldings, Challenger and Hallertau Tradition.  A small  bittering addition was followed by generous late editions of all three hops.  I was measuring the hops, so I made damn sure they were properly generous additions.

As before, all went smoothly.  We boiled, we chilled, we pitched.  Yeast-wise we went with Wyeast Yorkshire Ale, a fairly clean and attenuative strain.  Soon the beer was tucked up cozily in a fermentor, bubbling away.  Easy as.

What wasn’t easy was coming up with a name.  Naming beers is tricky and often done poorly (I swear one day I will write that naming guide).  We kicked around a few names like “Free Diver” and “Dive-Bomber” but nothing quite seemed to fit.  Finally we settled on a suggestion of mine: Major Goldings.  This is both a tribute to Golding’s Free Dive, Golding hops, of which there are major amounts in the beer, and the British/German style mashup (because you know, wars and shit).

I haven’t had a chance to taste it post dry-hop, but early indications are that it’s refreshing and slightly bitter golden-ish ale.  4.3% ABV, light but full.  Now a word of warning.  There is only 30 litres or so, this being a pilot-kit brew.  It’ll be going on at Goldings on Friday, mid afternoon.  It will not last the night, so get in quick if you want to try some.

See you on Friday.  And remember  Beer is Love, ya’ll.

Sean and Pete

Pete and Sean, a pair of beardy-beer chaps.


  1. I’m ignoring the fact that they actually did and still do, sort of.

Feel Good hit of the Summer

So after dropping the bombshell of my job change only a few days ago, today I started at Golding’s in earnest   Well technically I started yesterday, but I was on a first aid course, so I only really started at the new bar today. I spent most of the morning painting.  Then I did some painting.  After that, for a change, I painted.

Photo courtesy of Sean

I did not paint this though. Photo courtesy of Sean Golding.

So it seems I’m keeping day-walker hours for the next three weeks or so.  That gave me the perfect opportunity to have that mythical “Afterwork Pint” that all these normal people I know keep talking about.

I’ve also been keen to create an award for my favourite beer of the season, and since summer’s more or less over, I thought it’s about time for me to name it.  Coincidentally, being rather shagged out from a day of painting, the beer I decided to drink for my Afterwork Pint was also my pick of the summer.

So here it is; my ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer‘ is:

8 Wired Brewing Co. Haywired
Haywired at Sunset, with my paintey hand.

Haywired at Sunset, with my paintey hand.

Approximately one out of three bottles in my recycling bin over the last three months has been Haywired.  This is roughly speaking, my perfect drinking beer.  It’s golden but the malt profile isn’t boring.  It’s hoppy, fruity yet bitter, but neither over or under hopped.  It’s low(ish) alcohol (4.6%) but not too low, so you can drink a fair amount of it easily.  As I say, it’s roughly roughly perfect for summer.  Thus it wins my inaugural ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’ Award.  Well done Haywired.

Coming out of the Wardrobe

I have an announcement to make that may shock and astound you: I’m leaving Hashigo Zake.  Actually this might not come as a surprise to many of you. Despite my trying to keep a lid on the news, it seems that half of Wellington already knows, and lately I’ve been in the surreal situation of having people I barely know coming up to the bar and congratulating me about my new job.  Anywho, the fact of the matter is that I’ve been offered the Manager’s position at a new bar, Golding’s Free Dive, which will be opening next month.

Now I will unashamedly say that to my mind, Hashigo is by far and away the best beer bar in New Zealand, if not Australasia and/or the Southern Hemisphere.1  Certainly it’s the geekiest and probably the bar that’s done the most to further the cause of good beer in New Zealand.  To a lot of Beer Geeks then, leaving Hashigo could seem a bit like leaving Narnia.  But as Milton’s Satan once said: “Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven,” and it seems about my time to step out of the closet wardrobe and seek my fortune in the real world.2    

Of course I’m not suggesting that working at Golding’s is going to be a bad day in Tartarus, far from it.  On the contrary, I’m rather excited about the whole prospect.  You see, the core Hashigo team has been together now for three years, give or take and while they’re fantastic to work with, there’s also a great many chefs in that kitchen.  In this regard, Golding’s offers me the opportunity and challenge to help build a bar from the ground up: to help make it into a awesome little bar.

And Golding’s Free Dive is going to be an awesome bar: at once a free-house, serving good beer with no pesky ties to any brewery, big or small.  It’s also intended to be a dive bar (hence the name): a comfortable little out of the way spot where you can while away the hours, unmolested by the rowdy mobs it town.  There will be more details to come.

Now I’m heading into uncharted waters here:  I’ll be the longest running staff member ever to leave Hashigo.  I’ll also be the first staff member to transfer over to another Wellington bar and the first staff alumni to stay in Wellington (most in fact, leave New Zealand).  In this regard, the record is not great.  Two other staff have gone on to work at different bars, but neither of them lasted very long there.  And the reason is simple: Hashigo ruins people.  I’ve joked before that it’s somewhat of an ivory tower: working there is so good, you sometimes forget what working in the real world is like.  But as I said, the prospect of a new challenge is immensely exciting.  

Of course, my decision to leave Hashigo wasn’t easy.  I’ve been there for over three years, more or less since the beginning, and it’s been a fairly major part of my life over that time.  I’ll miss it dearly, so to ease my transition and cheer myself up, I thought I’d reflect on a few of the things I’m not going to miss about Hashigo:

  • My workmates.  They’re bastards to a man.
  • The regulars.  Wellington’s description was accurate: they’re “scum of the earth.”
  • Explaining what ‘Hashigo Zake’ means. That got old fast.  
  • Sake.  New Zealanders are cretins when it comes to this subtle and noble drink.3  
  • The historic plumbing.  It’s shit with shit.

Right, well that’s cheered me up.  Now I guess I should go on to talk about what I will actually miss about Hashigo:

  • My workmates.  Bastards to a man and like family to me.  
  • The regulars.  Wellington’s description was accurate: “scum of the earth… what fine fellows they are.”
  • The staff discount.
  • The pies.  Hashigo’s pies are a thing of beauty.
  • The credibility.  I don’t wish to sound arrogant, but Hashigo has a good name in both local and international beer circles, and occasionally it’s worked as a handy introduction at breweries and other bars.  I’ve always been proud to say “I work at Hashigo Zake.”

One of the things I’m probably going to miss the most though, is the feeling of being on the cutting edge of beer in New Zealand.  As I said before, Dominic and the Hashigo Crew have done so much to further New Zealand ‘craft’ beer in the last three and a half years.  Whether it be campaigning in the Radler case (or a myriad of other IP abuses), arranging international collaborations, donating obscenely generous amounts of labour to beer festivals, setting up local beer festivals, broadening local tastes by exposing New Zealanders to the international beer scene, supporting (frequently unknown) up-and-comers like Garage Project, ParrotDog and Funk Estate, or arranging distribution for local breweries.  Hashigo was a game-changing in the New Zealand beer scene and they continue to push the boundaries wherever they can.  I’m proud to have been a part of it.

But I am also stepping back from all that.  Golding’s will be serving good beer, but it wont have the same geeky edge.  We’ll always be a few steps behind.4    That’s fine though.  In fact that’s as should be.  Golding’s will be less about geeking-out and more about chilling-out, in a cool place, with good people and good beer, which is something we all need from time to time.

I’ll close now by saying that I hope that all those out there who I’ve served enjoyed having me as their bartender as much as I enjoyed serving them. And I know that I leave a lasting legacy at Hashigo; something that has made Hashigo a better place: The Boston Pork Pie.

[Image Pending]

Think of me next time you eat one.

Zum Wohl!


  1. You don’t have to agree with me on that, but I’m not the only one that thinks this.  And before you ask, no I haven’t sampled them all.  Neither have you, so shut up.
  2. I’m quite proud of that literary juxtaposition.  Just saying.
  3. At best they ask for good sake (pronounced sar-key for some reason) hot when it should be chilled or at room temperature.  This is like asking for your pinot gris to be warmed up.  At worst they shoot it and then rowdily proclaim “Phwar!  That’s rough!”  Well, maybe if you didn’t shoot hot alcohol, it wouldn’t burn so much.  No, actually at worst they ask for sake bombs, which is an insult to both our beer and sake.
  4. But on the other hand, there is also a another benefit to leaving Hashigo: I can now go there and enjoy it as a customer.  Fuck yeah!
  5. I’m well aware, there will be a lot of variance on that one…