02 January 2014

New Beer Blog

I have started a new blog about beer and brewing in New Zealand, visit http://www.luke.co.nz and sign up to get updates.

18 March 2010

This blog has moved

This blog is now located at http://epicbrewingcompany.blogspot.com/.
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09 November 2009

Epic Armageddon Wins Best Of BrewNZ Tasting

A recent tasting held by Wellington Beer Writer, Neil Miller at the backbencher, featured all the Best in Class winners from the BrewNZ Beer Awards.

This taste off to find the best of the best resulted in Epic Armageddon IPA being awarded the top place.

Beerly Tasting at the Backbencher

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13 October 2009

[TASTINGS] Epic series of beer tastings

Today starts an epic series of beer tastings around Australasia.

Each link goes to a page with more details

13th October - Christchurch - Pomeroy's on Kilmore
(Official tasting sold out, but I will be in the bar from 4pm to 7pm talking about Epic Beer)

14th October - Christchurch - Pomeroy's on Kilmore
(maybe even a chance to try Armageddon on tap for the first time in the South Island)

20th October - Auckland -Elliott Stables - Six NZ Craft Beers
(Six beers, tutored tasting by Luke Nicholas, includes Epic Armageddon IPA)

29th October - Wellington - Malthouse Event

17th November - Melbourne - Ale Stars - The Local Taphouse
(Luke to talk about his beers in Melbourne for the first time)

(Note: there maybe another tasting or two added to Melbourne for the 12th & 13th November, stay tuned)

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12 October 2009

[ARTICLE] Social Networking - DrinksBiz October 2009

Here is an article from the latest DrinksBiz magazine about Social Networking, which uses Epic Beer as a case study on how to use online social tools effectively.

DrinksBiz - Oct Nov 2009 - Page 14

DrinksBiz - Oct Nov 2009 - Page 15

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04 September 2009

[AWARDS] Best in Class for Epic Armageddon IPA at BrewNZ 2009

BrewNZ 2009 - Best in Class Trophy

Epic Armageddon IPA won Gold and Best in Class at the 2009 BrewNZ Beer Awards

Epic Pale Ale and Epic Lager both got Bronze medals



31 August 2009

Epic Armageddon IPA Oak Barrels tasted after ocean voyage

Luke Nicholas of Epic Brewing Company tries the first sample of Epic Armageddon IPA from the oak barrels that spent 6 weeks on the Interislander ferry that travels between the North & South islands of New Zealand.

The barrels crossed the Cook Strait 126 times. The beer was sampled at the public festival Beervana, on the 28th and 29th August 2009, to very positive feedback from the public.

The barrels were named Pete & Melissa after UK based beer writers Pete Brown and Melissa Cole.

The inspiration for this idea come from Pete Brown's book Hops & Glory

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08 August 2009

Armageddon a taste for hoppy beers by Bruce Holloway

The end is ni…ce!
("The end is ni…ce! by wasabicube, on Flickr")

Put the paper down and go and write these beer names in your diary now: Epic Armageddon and Maximus Humulus Lupulus.

Because anyone interested enough to be reading a beer column, or possessing even a vague appreciation of hops, should make a special effort over the next few months to try and hunt out these two exciting limited-release hop-monster beers brewed in Auckland.

Armageddon is a hop-crazed, supercharged mutation of Epic Brewing Co’s Pale Ale – effectively a walk on the wild side well beyond Epic Mayhem -- while Maximus Humulus Lupulus (the Latin translates as "greatest hops") is Hallertau Brewery’s equally robust interpretation of a double India Pale Ale.

These beers are a hop lover’s dream, and, to be fair, quite possibly a garden variety lager drinker’s worst nightmare, given their unfettered accent on flavour rather than a marketing department’s brand imagery.

In the past few weeks Armageddon and Maximus have been the stars of the West Coast IPA Challenge, in which they have gone head to head and hop to hop in a contest to find New Zealand’s champion super-hopped beer, before packed houses of beer buffs in Wellington (The Malthouse) and Auckland (Brew on Quay).

Here drinkers were invited to vote for their favourite hop monster with their wallets.

Armageddon, fuelled by cascade and centennial hops, is perhaps the more commercial of the brews. It’s filtered, pasteurised, and more stable.

Numerologists will appreciate how its 6.66 per cent alcohol by volume also ties in nicely with its biggest, baddest "end of the world beer" theme. It has huge floral and citrus aromas – I swear I could smell it from the door of the pub -- and a resinous, piney tang, though the powerful taste of hops actually creates an illusion of a far less intoxicating beverage.

By contrast Plowman’s Maximus seems more raw, exciting and alive. It was every bit as botanical as its name, with layer after layer of hops evident, and a satisfying dry finish. It features Columbus, Centennial and Simcoe hops and weighed in at 6.8 per cent.

It was standing room only in Auckland, as beer boffins enjoyed a rare opportunity to enjoy two extremely hoppy tap beers side by side.

"This is the greatest beer I have ever tasted," Seattle-based beer hunter Nick Keefe told me, in drooling over an Armageddon.

The bloke on the other side of me disagreed. "Not even the best beer in the challenge," he sniffed.

They could both have been right. It was that sort of event.

Epic certainly won in terms of pints sold, was smoother, and it had a name punters could pronounce. But Maximus was perhaps truer to the pioneering spirit of the challenge, with its big boldness and rough edges.

However to judge a beer by turnover is an absurd proposition, particularly in New Zealand, where it is almost a rule of thumb that the bigger selling a beer is, the more likely it is to be complete rubbish.

Both beers evolved after Epic brewer Luke Nicholas and his Hallertau counterpart, Steve Plowman, travelled to California last April, where Nicholas was judging at the World Beer Cup.

They sat in on the 2500-strong American craft brewers conference, came under the influence of boffins pushing the boundaries with extreme-hopped beers and suffered a craving to create their own monsters.

Plowman is a laid back unflappable Westie. By contrast, Nicholas is like Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear -- an eloquent, engaging frontman for his product, and one who loves to win just as much.

In the final analysis my wallet voted for his beer more. But Plowman has given us the most memorable Maximus since Russell Crowe starred in Gladiator.

Only 1000 litres have been brewed of Maximus, so it is a collector’s item, and only available in take-home supplies from the brewery in Kumeu.

Armageddon is in 500ml bottles, and available through the New World supermarket chain and speciality liquor outlets, for anywhere between $10-12.

This article appear over the weekend in The Press (Christchurch), Dominion Post (Wellington) and The Waikato Times (Hamilton)

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05 August 2009

Hops over the top, but not the price by Geoff Griggs

Last week, I wrote of how, in an attempt to mimic the arduous six-week sea voyage endured by the original India Pale Ales, Auckland brewer Luke Nicholas recently filled two oak casks with his new beer, Epic Armageddon IPA, and sent them criss-crossing Cook Strait on the inter-island ferry.

Although those barrels will not be tapped until next month's Beervana tastings in Wellington, the bottled version of Epic Armageddon IPA is now available at selected outlets around the country and, I'm glad to say, a few cases have made it to Blenheim.

Armageddon pours a bright amber colour with a deep off-white head. Hopped exclusively with American varieties, the beer almost jumps out of the glass as it assaults the nose with a massive hit of citrus zest and sweet, lollyish, tropical-fruit hop aromas.

A first sip confirms the intensity of the hop attack and, despite some cushioning sweet maltiness, in the end, the inside of the mouth is left dry with a coating of hop resin. After a glass, you'll likely end up with a fixed hop grin.

Armageddon isn't quite the end of the world, but it is certainly brash, intimidating, full on and over the top in other words, just as an American IPA should be. I love it.

Full Story

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28 July 2009

[MAP] Epic Beer Outlets - AUSTRALIA

Looking for some Epic Pale Ale in Australia. This map should help.

View Epic Beer - Australia in a larger map

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23 July 2009

Big reception planned for seasoned travellers - by Geoff Griggs

By the time Pete and Melissa finally arrive in Wellington in mid-August, they'll have crossed Cook Strait about 120 times!

Since boarding the inter-island ferry Aratere on July 9, the pair have crossed the strait three times a day without a break. But Pete and Melissa aren't a couple of fame-seeking tourists trying to get themselves into the record books they're two wooden barrels of beer.

The plan was hatched by two beer-loving Kiwis Colin Mallon, manager of Wellington specialist beer bar The Malthouse, and Luke Nicholas, owner and brewer of Epic beer after a recent beer-hunting trip around the UK. In their travels, Colin and Luke visited several famous British breweries and met up with beer writers including Pete Brown and Melissa Cole. Hence Pete and Melissa!

Putting the two casks of beer aboard the inter-island ferry is Colin and Luke's attempt to recreate beer's most famous voyage. In the 1880s, strong, hoppy pale ales from Burton-on-Trent in England took about six weeks on tall ships to reach thirsty customers in India. That beer became known as India Pale Ale, or IPA.

British writer Pete Brown recently retraced the long journey that helped create the iconic beer style and subsequently chronicled his adventures in a book, Hops and Glory: One Man's Search for the Beer that Built the British Empire.

Returning to New Zealand with copies of the book, Colin and Luke were fascinated to read how IPA was brewed with extra hops and stronger than ordinary beer to withstand the rigours of the long sea journey across the tropics.

Hops were first employed as a natural preservative in brewing and the extra amount used in IPA, in conjunction with the beer's increased alcoholic strength, slowed the oxidisation process and prevented souring.

The beer maturing inside Pete and Melissa is Epic's latest seasonal brew, Armageddon IPA.

"I sourced two 20-litre new oak barrels and filled them with fresh Armageddon," explains Luke.

"I recently brewed a real ale in England for a huge British beer festival, so I knew Armageddon was not a million miles away from what a traditional pale ale would have tasted like. For a beer to stand up to the kind of treatment we have in mind, it has to be pretty robust. Armageddon is definitely big, strong and hoppy.

"The idea is to see what effect changes in temperature and constant movement has on beer stored in wood. Most pundits believe India Pale Ales benefited from the conditioning they received during their sea voyages."

So what will the beer taste like? Given the small size of the wooden barrels and the fact that they're brand new, I anticipate the beer will pick up a huge amount of vanillin and tannin and I wouldn't be surprised if it requires blending with unwooded beer to soften the effect.

A ceremonial tapping of Pete and Melissa will be held at this year's Beervana, a series of public beer tastings being held in Wellington on August 28 and 29. Tickets are available now (at www.beervana.co.nz), so why not head to Wellington and sample the world's first I-IPA ("Inter-Island Pale Ale") for yourself?


Full Story

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