One of the biggest events on the Wellington craft beer calendar, Malthouse’s West Coast IPA Challenge, is expanding due to a positive case of growing pains.
Colin Mallon, Malthouse Operations Guy and WCIPAC organiser, says this year’s 9th Annual West Coast IPA Challenge (WCIPAC) will expand its festivities to Malthouse’s sister bar, Fork & Brewer on Bond Street, due to increasingly large crowds turning up to see who will win Best West Coast IPA and take home the Golden Gumboots.
The annual event, taking place on Friday, 29 July, sees brewers showcase their skills with hops by brewing West Coast IPAs, a notoriously popular and hoppy style of beer, dear to the hearts of craft beer drinkers.
“I think it’s become such a big event on the calendar because of people’s ongoing and increasingly growing love affair with different beers,“ says Colin.
“The event has raised awareness of the beer style, and the fun and anticipation leading up to, and on, the night definitely brings people in who necessarily wouldn’t class themselves as beer drinkers. You get hardcore beer drinkers bringing their friends, and before you know it, it widens the appeal.
“The last WCIPAC had Malthouse groaning at its seams. The event officially kicks off at 2pm, the bar will be wall-to-wall packed by 4:30pm, with queues out the door by 5pm, and the bar often remaining near capacity until 2am.
“We sell something in the region of about 40 kegs. It is a huge night for us!
“We were turning people away at the last few WCIPACs, so it made sense to release some of that pressure this year by making Fork & Brewer a co-host.”
Colin says Fork & Brewer was the natural venue choice to expand the event, not only as it is Malthouse’s sister bar, but because it is the only place that had enough taps to accommodate the 25 beers that will be showcased on the evening.
Punters at Fork & Brewer need not fear for missing out on any of the beers, celebrations or announcements – all WCIPAC beers will be pouring on tap and announcements made at the same time as at Malthouse.
It speaks for the notoriety of the event, that the competition is making its first foray to Australia with a line-up of WCIPAC beers being flown over the Tasman to feature in WCIPAC tap takeovers at The Local Taphouses in Melbourne and Sydney.
Originally created because July was Malthouse’s quietest month of the year, WCIPAC started out with two entrants [Epic Brewing Co. and Hallertau Brewery] in a bit of a “my beer is hoppier than your beer” showdown.
“Back then the Wellington craft beer landscape was quite different – there was Malthouse, Bar Bodega and Bar Edward, so showcasing a specific style was quite unusual,” says Colin.
“Now the event showcases 25 beers, has 9-10 judges, some of whom are World Beer Cup judges, and breweries contacting us to submit entries.”
“It’s great when you see a brewery that hasn’t performed very well, and then come back and next year and they raise their game – even if they don’t win it’s really great to see.”
“The last thing I wanted this to be was something that was taken too seriously. We want to give brewers a bit of feedback on their entries, but at the end of the day, it is all about celebrating good beer with good people.”
Q: What does growing consolidation mean for the craft beer movement? A: Everyone needs to realize that right now in every bar in every state there are massive global breweries going in and trying to sell those bars kegs of beer that they are hoisting off as local craft beers from somewhere in America that are really being made and distributed and marketed by the world’s biggest breweries. If the consumer doesn’t vote with their pocketbook to prioritize indie craft, we risk losing the vibrancy and diversity of our industry because the little guys can’t compete at the price points that the big brewers are hoisting this so-called craft beer off on.
In 1923, the first New Zealand brewing giant, under the name of New Zealand Breweries (since renamed Lion), was born through the merger of ten major regional breweries (including all of their licensed hotels and tied independents) located in the major metropolitan areas of the country. Although exact figures are unavailable, it is probably safe to say this new company controlled well over half of the country’s beer production and distribution. In subsequent years Lion continued to grow, not through capital investment in new plants, but by buying additional regionals, closing some and bringing others into the corporate fold.
Is the follow article part of making things OK? Are Kirin/Lion/Emerson’s really just good guys after all? If so maybe some of the bars they have tied might be good enough to free up a tap to two so that the small independent brewers might be able to sell a little more beer? Seems a bit pointless helping small independent breweries to make beer when on the other hand they are blocked from the majority of the market through tied agreements.
The trophies keep piling up for Epic Beer’s Armageddon IPA, which has claimed its fourth major crown in less than a year after it was named best in class at the New World Beer and Cider Awards.
And to seal Epic’s position as this country’s leading producer of hop-driven beers, Epic Pale Ale also brought home a trophy for the best pale ale, defending the title it won in last year’s inaugural awards.
Epic owner-brewer Nicholas is blown away by Armageddon’s success over the past year. It has previously taken out trophies at the Australian International Beer Awards, The New Zealand Brewers Guild Awards and the Stockholm Beer and Whiskey Festival.
“When it won its third trophy, in Stockholm, it was described as `the stuff of fantasy’ – well I think we’ve exhausted the adjectives now, it’s beyond my wildest dreams,” Nicholas said.
“The IPA category is one of the most fiercely contested in any beer competition and to come out on top in four consecutive competitions is mind-boggling.”
Nicholas was equally delighted Epic Pale Ale retained the title it won last year against stiff competition. It was the only beer or cider to retain a title from the inaugural awards and this trophy comes almost 10 years to the day after it burst to prominence when named supreme champion at the New Zealand International Beer Awards in 2006.
“It just shows what a remarkable beer Epic Pale Ale has been over the course of a decade. When it was released it was revolutionary – a big hoppy pale ale of the sort New Zealand hadn’t seen before. And despite the huge growth in the pale ale category, 10 years later it still stands above the rest.”
Epic was the only brewery to win two trophies at the awards and also picked up four silver medals for Hop Zombie, Awakening Pils, Lager and IMP session IPA. The Observer Timeless Ale was awarded a bronze medal, meaning every Epic beer entered won a medal of some colour.
A total of 464 beers were entered in the awards, with 40 winning gold medals.
All trophy winners will be available at New World stores around the country.
Tasting notes from Michael Donaldson – head judge for the New World Beer and Cider Awards.
Pale Ale – Epic Pale Ale
This has been a benchmark pale ale for a decade and its quality is reflected in the fact it’s now the only two-time trophy winner in the New World awards. At 5.4 per cent alcohol and packed with flavour, Epic Pale Ale was sessionable before `session’ became a buzzword. It’s vibrant, clean, with nice mouth weight, flavours of lychee and rosewater push through a curtain of citrus and pine aromas to dance on a stage of subtle caramel malt. A sneaky bitterness then comes in to cleanse the palate and start the show all over again. Loves to be consumed alongside anything with chilli.
IPA – Epic Armageddon IPA
Fast becoming New Zealand’s most awarded beer and it was no surprise to see it add the New World title to gongs won at the New Zealand Brewers Guild Awards and in Australia and Sweden. Brewer Luke Nicholas’ annual pilgrimage to the US hop fields to hand-pick his produce has paid off handsomely. This is the ultimate American-style IPA which surfs waves of flavour, starting with orange and grape notes on the nose, a salty lick like a sea breeze through Norfolk Pines, a caramel caress before the oily resin of the hops is brushed away with a cleansing minerality and a long, clean bitterness. Bold enough to handle rich and spicy food, such as Moroccan lamb.
So I got a press release from the Brewers Guild of New Zealand today about the New Zealand Breweries that entered the World Beer Cup. I’d like to find out more about the following breweries, so if you know anything please share. I do know Williams Warn, but unsure of the rules and how a home-brew equipment manufacture can entered a commercial beer awards. Any additional information or commentary you have would be great if you could share.
Who are these companies, what beers have they entered?
As the world’s best athletes finalise their preparations for this year’s Olympic Games, Kiwi brewers will be going for gold at their own Olympics, the World Beer Cup, in Philadelphia next month.
The biennial World Beer Cup, known as the “Olympics of Beer Competitions”, is the most prestigious beer competition in the world. This year, 11 New Zealand breweries will compete against more than 2000 rivals from 63 countries for gold, silver and bronze medals.
The New Zealand breweries competing are:
Epic Brewing Company (Auckland)
Garage Project (Wellington)
Harrington’s Breweries (Christchurch)
Long White Cloud Brewing
Moa Brewing Company (Marlborough)
New Zealand Beer Ltd (Auckland)
The Fox Sporting Bar & Restaurant (Auckland)
Brewers Guild of New Zealand president Emma McCashin said New Zealand breweries were highly regarded by their international peers.
“New Zealand has an incredibly proud tradition and talent for brewing. Each year the quality and range of styles being produced in New Zealand is getting better and Kiwi brewers punch well above their weight at beer awards around the world.
“It’s no wonder that New Zealand is enjoying a golden era in brewing.”
The World Beer Cup was the pinnacle of brewing excellence, McCashin said.
“The World Beer Cup is pretty unique in that there are medals only for first, second and third in each category. When there are literally thousands of high-quality entries from around the world across 90 different categories, getting a medal means you’re a member of world brewing’s elite.”
Only three New Zealand breweries have tasted success at the World Beer Cup.
LION won silver with its Speight’s Triple Hop Pilsner in 2014, with Wellington’s Garage Project also picking up silver with its Cockswain’s Courage Double Barreled Edition Porter the same year. Monteith’s Black Beer won bronze in 2000.
But the stellar growth and development of New Zealand’s $2.2 billion beer industry meant more global success was already brewing.
“The beers being produced here are already considered among the world’s best. We’ve got tremendous talent among the thousands of people involved in the brewing industry, from malt and hops production right through to bottling and distribution.
“It’s not just the great-tasting beers New Zealand breweries produce, New Zealand hops is in huge demand overseas, particularly on the West Coast of the United States. What we’re seeing now are huge opportunities in Asia, which is the next big export frontier for Kiwi brewing.”
In addition to the New Zealand breweries competing, a record number of New Zealand brewing experts will be taking part at the event as judges: Kelly Ryan and Colin Mallon (Fork & Brewer, Wellington), Stephen Plowman (Hallertau, Auckland), Joseph Wood (Liberty Brewing, Auckland), Greig McGill (Brewaucracy, Hamilton), Brian Watson (Good George, Hamilton), Shane Morley (Steam Brewing, Auckland) and Geoff Griggs (beer writer, Blenheim).
Craft beer industry growth fuelling demand for skilled brewers
Attracting and retaining highly-skilled brewers is the vital next step in continuing the growth trajectory of New Zealand’s brewing industry, says the Brewers Guild of New Zealand.
Already a $2.2 billion industry in this country, growth in the number of professional brewing operations has continued in response increasing thirst for Kiwi beer overseas.
That growth has put the heat on breweries to recruit and retain skilled personnel, said Brewers Guild president Emma McCashin.
“The number of professional brewing operations in New Zealand has almost trebled in the past five years, and beer exports have almost doubled.
“As the industry’s growth continues to trend upward, there’s definitely a pressing need and demand for more highly-skilled people throughout the value chain, starting with more professional brewers.
“There isn’t necessarily a skills shortage currently but there’s increasing pressure on breweries to recruit the people they need to grow their operations and meet demand for consistently excellent beer, as well as continuing to innovate and experiment.”
ANZ’s 2015 industry insight report showed the craft beer business had grown 40 per cent from 2014. Of New Zealand’s more than 100 craft breweries, a third were either readying for or already pursuing offshore market opportunities. The thirst for Kiwi craft beer continues to boom in the United States, while demand in Asian markets is tipped to grow 300% in the next decade.
Those New Zealand breweries with export aspirations would need to expand production to take advantage of the opportunities, said Mrs McCashin. The Brewers Guild was currently investigating a number of initiatives aimed at attracting more people to the industry.
“Craft brewing in New Zealand may have started out as a cottage industry but, in the past couple of decades, it’s grown into a highly sophisticated and valuable sector.
“To continue that trend and achieve the scale required by the industry, we need to get more highly-skilled people involved. We’ve already got some of the best brewers in the world making beer here and overseas, but we need even more of them to keep pace with growth.
“That involves finding ways to attract more people from food science, chemistry, microbiology and even engineering backgrounds.”
Given the global interest in beer and brewing, the professional opportunities were impressive, she said.
“Beer is by far the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage in the world and consumer demand for premium beers in particular is growing at a phenomenal rate. With that comes strong demand for skilled New Zealand brewers from breweries all around the world.”
About the Brewers Guild of New Zealand
The Brewers Guild is a membership-based organisation established to grow the value and quality of New Zealand’s $2.2 billion beer sector.
The Guild’s mission is to grow the value and quality of the New Zealand beer sector and to act with vision for the future of the New Zealand brewing industry through education, training and communication.
The Guild organises New Zealand’s most prestigious annual beer awards, the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards.
I listed stories about hop shortages going back to 2009. Yes it was me in the article in 2009 moaning about not enough hops.
You know what I did, I started taking out longer contracts. Guess what? Now my hop shortages come down to not forecasting well enough on specific varieties.
I know it is particularly hard for start up breweries to get contracts. You have to start somewhere, so start today. All breweries should be contracting the hops they need. In New Zealand, NZ Hops will contract NZ grown and imported hops.
If you contract for longer, and if everyone could pay a little more (which can be passed on in the price of the beer), then growers will grow more.
Growers want to know they can cover the cost of committing to the risk of planting out new fields. If they can get a 5 year+ commitment at a good price then they will look at growing more, as well as investing more in infrastructure (such as pickers and dryers).
My question is how do brewers offer to pay enough, over what period to get hop growers to grow more?
If they take out other crops then does the shortage of this crop, say like blueberries in Yakima, cause the price to increase in blueberries resulting in a change back from hops to blueberries.
There is much caution from the growers to invest because if you go back to right before the start of this hop shortage because of the booming craft beer industry, price were so low. For example I was landing US grown Cascade hops in the brewery in Auckland for $8/kg. that was 2006. 10 years ago 1/3 of the hop acreage in the US had been pulled out. 10 years in the life of a farmer was yesterday. There need to be assurances to invest to grow more hops.
The answer to this is brewers need to commit to hop contracts for as long as they can and at the best price they can pay to secure the supply they need.
P.S. To all reporters/journos who think they might want to write an article about “the hop storage” in the future please talk to brewers with hop contracts, hop growers or Doug from NZ Hops. Get the real story, not some chicken little the sky is falling waffle.
Maybe a little research?
The Hop Market So how should brewers think about the coming hops market, finding a proper balance between understanding the challenges that growers and dealers will face while not giving in to extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds (aka unfounded beliefs)?
It looks like 2016 kicked off with a focus on alcohol, and the reduction of how, when, where and how much is available. The follow are some articles of interest, and commentary relating to alcohol and events from the last week or so.
How far are we from what is happening in Sydney? This is a long article but well researched and written. It’s worth the time to read it all, so you are informed and ready for what could possibly happen in New Zealand in the future.
“There’s a whole Orwellian nomenclature that has been made up to deliberately keep the general public in a constant state of confusion that some terror has swept across the city: “king hit”, “coward punch”, “alcopop”, “alcohol-related violence”. Being quite a respectable lot, we’ve all been guilt shamed into thinking that something in the Australian psyche is ugly and that mixed with alcohol we turn into raging brutes, or that by simply having fun somehow we’ve been breaking some great moral code, the 11th commandment: thou shalt not have fun.
But that’s all a load of rubbish and in actual fact, you’ve done nothing wrong at all. In fact you’ve been very well behaved. Sydney ranks more safe than Bordeaux, France, or Lausanne, Switzerland, for crime.”
“First the Wellington Sevens, now the NRL Auckland Nines. The PC brigade will strike another major sporting event with the Nines set to breath-test punters upon entry.
Those too drunk will be barred from the two-day event, which hosts 16 NRL teams in 31 games on Saturday and Sunday, at Eden Park.”
ODI NZ vs Australia Eden Park
I went to the first ODI between NZ and Australia at Eden Park. The weather was perfect, game was exciting and company was great. I hadn’t been to watch the cricket for a number of years. Not since you could take a chilly bin with your own food and drinks in it.
OK straight to the point. The food and beverage selection on offer was extremely underwhelming. Plastic cups, I can understand and live with that. The beer though was industrial megaswill, or near beer. Why not have some offering of craft beer or beer with flavour, something worth tasting? I’d guess that easily 10% of the people there would have been craft beer drinkers.
Eden Park could increase attendance by lifting their food and beverage offerings. It’s a turn off to go to the cricket for 8 hours and have to put up with such a poor offerings. How hard would it be to sell some of the stands around the stadium to craft brewers and food truck operators. It would be amazing, how much better of a time would you have?
You pay to see world-class sporting events and get offered the cheapest food and beverages. Such a shame.
Then there was this article below, I didn’t notice on the day. Then again I drank very little beer. (one observation I did notice was the number of guys that had chosen to drink wine. Guessing a large number it was for the alcohol content, but there must have been some that drank it for the flavour. I know I was seriously contemplating the wine).
“Funny thing happened at the cricket on Wednesday,” writes Dave. “Halfway through the match the limit of beers you could buy at one time went from four down to two – normal procedure to stop people getting too rowdy as the game goes on. But this time as well as reducing the limit they also switched out the cups to a significantly smaller size [pictured]. You could say this is also a safety measure but not when they keep charging the same price of $8.50. Nice of them to try to keep people safe, but not so sure they should be ramping up their margins because they think people will be too drunk to notice!”
Above are observation of what is currently happening. You need to ask questions about how far things should go to limit and control the public at events, and the responsible control of alcohol at events, and in bars. Food is an important part of drinking alcohol, beyond the joy and pleasure of consuming it. Better offerings are likely to be more inviting for people to want to consume them, Eden Park. Then again I didn’t see any trouble or people who were showing obvious signs of being intoxicated.
Fourth generation Nelson grower Brent McGlashen of Mac Hops says the industry is unrecognisable from 10 years ago.
“We had only a handful of customers, now it’s in the hundreds which has really helped because things weren’t looking too good. Hops were a commodity where the big brewers thought they could turn up and offer a price – that’s changed around,” McGlashen said.
Fourth generation Nelson grower Brent McGlashen of Mac Hops says the industry is unrecognisable from 10 years ago.
“We had only a handful of customers, now it’s in the hundreds which has really helped because things weren’t looking too good. Hops were a commodity where the big brewers thought they could turn up and offer a price – that’s changed around,” McGlashen said. (full story)