Beer Haiku Friday and Awards That Actually Matter

Today’s beer haiku will outrage the purists but I like it. It is called “Because I Can“:

A bucket of wings
And some expensive cheap beer
Just because I can

Over at the Malthouse blog, my latest post discusses bar service, Evelyn Waugh’s seven requirements of a good inn-keeper, assesses Malthouse’s Colin Mallon against those seven criteria, looks at the Capital Awards and highlights three coming events. In a unsubtle dig at the Oscars, it is called “Awards That Actually Matter“:

Many would have expected Malthouse to also do well in the ‘best beer list’ category – except there wasn’t one. There was a ‘best wine list’ and ‘best drinks list’ but beer was a glaring omission. Fortunately, the flame-haired perpetrator has been quickly identified and given a stern talking to over a Tuatara Ardennes. Hopefully, it will be a proper category next year.

Glass Tips – Those determined tipplers at Beer Haiku Daily and the multi-award nomination folks at Malthouse

Epic Journey recreates beer’s most famous voyage

Forty litres of fresh India Pale Ale from Auckland will spend up to six weeks at sea on the Interislander Ferry looking to recreate a recreation of beer’s most famous voyage.

In the 1880s, pale ale from Burton-on-Trent in England took around six weeks on tall ships to reach its thirsty customers in India. British beer writer Pete Brown recently retraced the long journey which helped create this iconic style of beer. He chronicled his adventures in the newly released book Hops and Glory: One Man’s Search for the Beer that Built the British Empire.

After a sleepless night finishing the book, Malthouse proprietor Colin Mallon had the ‘crazy idea’ of replicating the experience in New Zealand. “I had met Pete Brown in England recently and just loved the book. First, I needed some beer. My first thought was Epic Armageddon, a limited release double India Pale Ale brewed by Luke Nicholas from Epic Brewing Company. He agreed immediately. Then I needed a boat. The Interislander Ferry agreed immediately. I tasked Luke with finding appropriate barrels,” says Colin.

“I sourced two 20-litre new oak barrels and filled them with fresh Armageddon,” Luke explains. “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 Ale’s benefitted from the conditioning they received during their sea voyages.”

Colin and Luke jointly christened the beer ‘Epic Journey’ while the barrels are affectionately known as Pete (after Pete Brown) and Melissa (in honour of British beer writer Melissa Cole). Pete and Melissa will spend up to six weeks on the ferry before being ceremonially tapped at Beervana at the Wellington Town Hall, 28th & 29th August.

For the full background story see

The Epic Journey Has Begun

Epic and the Malthouse have conspired to put Epic Armageddon in oak barrels on board the interisland ferry for six weeks. The barrels are named Pete (after Pete Brown whose Hops and Glory book inspired this lunacy) and Melissa (after Melissa Cole, a British Beer Writer). This news has reached Melissa and she blogs her response in a post titled “Does my bum look big in this barrel“:

[Luke and Colin] went back to New Zealand, we did the Facebook thing to stay in contact and I didn’t think much more about it – until a tagged photo of a barrel appeared with my name on it on Colin’s page, which I found a little odd/slightly insulting! So, a faux-indignant enquiry was made and I got back a very cryptic ‘you’ll have to wait and see’ response – worst thing ever to say to a nosey journalist.

Unfortunately, my attempts to get more information out of Luke yielded even less fruit, which was even more frustrating – particularly when Tweets started appearing saying things like ‘just filling Melissa’ [see action photo] which, I must say, came as a surprise to me!

Melissa’s blog, “Taking the beard out of beer” is well worth a read.

Craft Beer Surge – Sunday Star Times – 12 July 2009

Letters To The Business Editor – Page D7

Craft Beer Surge - Sunday Star Times - 12 July 2009

Dear Tim

Re: Recession Bites Grog Sales – Sunday Star Times 28th June, 2009

I was surprised to read this article which does give the point of view
of the large brewers in this country and the commodity they sell
called beer. It is easy for consumers of this type of product to trade
down in tough economic times due to the fact that the flavour
difference between the so called “premium” international style lagers
and the budget NZ draught styles (which evolved during tough economic
times during WWII) is minimal.

There is a segment of the New Zealand beer market that is still
experiencing growth, the craft beers. Last week I was in Christchurch
for a meeting of NZ craft brewers looking at setting up an export
cooperative for the Australian market. We all talked about the growth
rate were are all experiencing even now of 50% – 100% across the
brewers at the table. We also discussed the issues we are currently
having getting funding to expand capacity in our breweries. This is
definitely something that the current economic situation if effecting
the 50 craft breweries of New Zealand

As a brewer myself of craft beer, I would be surprised to see my
customers trading down, as there is no comparative products that are
cheaper. As a craft brewer I am making beers full of flavour, and
don’t compromise of ingredients, as a result my beer cost
significantly more. But there is a growing market for these beers.

This month I am releasing a beer that could arguably be most
flavourful beer in New Zealand, Epic Armageddon IPA. This beer will be
selling in supermarkets for around $10 per 500ml bottle and I expect
to sell out within a few weeks.

Luke Nicholas
General Manager – Flying Brewer 😉
EPIC Brewing Company

Beer Haiku Friday and Challenging American Pale Ales

Given it is freezing cold, blowing a gale and pouring with rain outside, I’m seriously contemplating firing up my beloved balcony barbeque for lunch. Today’s beer haiku captures my cooking philosophy in a poem titled “Preparing for the Grill“:

As the grill heats up
And the pork loin marinates
I marinate too

My latest post on the Malthouse blog has also just gone up. In “The Challenge of American Pale Ales” I impersonate a ring announcer, announce the return of a brewing contest, provide another link to that great imp picture and, eventually, talk about Little Creatures Pale Ale:

The world has always loved a great battle – David taking out Goliath, the armies of Rome battling the Vandals, the Royal Air Force defeating the Luftwaffe, Ali versus Frazier, George W Bush against the English language… In July 2009, one of New Zealand’s most heated brewing rivalries will be re-kindled.

Glass tips – The fine fellows at Beer Haiku Daily and Colin the Handsome Scotsman at the Malthouse

Epic Halcyon at Thornbridge Brewery (UK)

Although we are both from NZ, this was the first time our paths had crossed. You have to remember that everyone knows everyone else in NZ, so this was no mean feat! How can I describe Luke? He is very confident and oozes self-belief and passion. He has an intuitive understanding of the world of craft beer and has literally worked from the bottom up. He told me of how he used to volunteer his weekends at a local Auckland brewpub chain so he could learn how a commercial brewery worked (Luke was a passionate home brewer prior to this) until he was employed and gradually worked his way up in the brewing world. Commitment seeps from his every pore and the intensity with which he talks about beer and brewing is awesome. He is engaging, intelligent and the type of person that us Thornbridgers love to hang out with.

It was a big step to decide to collaborate with someone that we did not know. We hadn’t tasted his Epic beers or met him; however it was an opportunity not to be missed. In hindsight, I would have been gutted had we not brewed together. We had a great day and even got to try some of Luke’s beers, which were fantastic!

Full Story

Small brewer scores epic festival effort

When it comes to success in the art of beer making, brand recognition can mean everything, so the significance of winning a slot at a British ale festival dubbed “the world’s biggest” is not lost on Kiwi brewer Luke Nicholas.

Over the next fortnight, the Poms will be sipping their way through 100,000 pints of multi-award-winning Epic Pale Ale after the 38-year-old was invited to showcase his brew at the International Real Ale Festival.

Epic’s founder and head brewer has landed one of only six international taps at the annual event hosted by British pub giant JD Wetherspoon which he says could provide the company with the springboard it needs to maximise its potential.

“The Wetherspoon chain has 720 pubs and my batch will be selling in all of them overnight that’s more than twice the number of outlets I can get into here,” Mr Nicholas said.

“Of course, it’s not just about selling the beer. It’s about seeking publicity, pursuing potential avenues, exploiting brand recognition and putting Epic on the map something that’s not easy back home.”

Full Story

Campbell Live TV3, Epic Beer Interview & Brewery Tour

Epic Beer’s hoppy brew an economic success

Mr Nicholas cannot compete with the big-boys financially but is determined to remain independent.

He does not think the major brewers could afford him anyway.

“Probably not because I think any of the big brewers that would look for acquisition, would look at how much it would cost to make Epic and how much I have to spend on hops to get that flavour and go ‘that’s insane’.”

See Video On Demand



Epic Pale Ale to be brewed in UK

Luke Nicholas, of Epic Brewing Company is going to the UK to brew a batch of Epic Pale Ale for the World’s Biggest International Real Ale Festival.

The two week festival is run by giant pub company JD Wetherspoons from April 15 to May 4 2009. During this time, their 700 British pubs will sell more than 2.5 million pints of real ale. Over 50 cask ales will be available during the festival but only six will be made by international brewers.

Full Story