BUS TOUR – Brewery Tours For International Beer Judges

Most international judges come from so far, everyone generally comes a day early. This gives you a chance for getting use to the timezone, as well as any possible travel delays.

It has become a bit of a tradition since 2008, for all of us to jump on a bus and visit the best local breweries. This was originally the idea of Carl Kins, who arranged the busses and sponsors to cover the costs. Thanks Carl. This year Carl couldn’t do it, and the Brewers Association picked up the slack. Awesome thank you.

Not only is this a great opportunity for visiting some great breweries but a great opportunity to catch up with the international judges – old friends, and making new friends.

This year we visited Fort Collins – New Belgium, O’Dell and FunkWerks. Fort Collins is an amazing small town. Why so many breweries?





[CHANGES] New blogs coming soon

This has been a pretty massive week, including I have changed blogging platform from Blogger to WordPress.

Since “Tasting Tuesday”….


Wednesday 19th February – Sam Snead’s House of Whiskey – Single Barrel Bourbon Tasting (special appearance by Epic Carolina)

Sam Snead's House of Whiskey - Bourbon Tasting
Sam Snead’s House of Whiskey – Bourbon Tasting


 Thursday – 20th February – Our first stag do tasting at Epic Beer HQ

Stag Do Tasting - Epic Beer HQ


Thursday – 20th February – Epic Carolina Hamilton Release – House on Hood (including hot wing eating competition)

Epic Carolina Hamilton Release


Friday – 21st February – Auckland Art Gallery – Five Maori Painters Exhibit Opening (beer supplier for the event)

Auckland Art Gallery - Five Maori Painters - Exhibition Opening
Auckland Art Gallery – Five Maori Painters – Exhibition Opening


Saturday – 22nd February – blanc Brew Fest (most popular beers for us, Epic Carolina and Coffee & Fig Stout)

350 people, drinking craft beer at blanc in Henderson - Brew Fest 2014
350 people, drinking craft beer at blanc in Henderson – Brew Fest 2014


I’ve found it hard to find the time to write blog post over the last few days. The spare time I could have spent blogging has been spent on moving the domain, setting up WordPress, and importing the old blog posts. There is still a bit of fine tuning to do on setup (and learning about WordPress), but I expect to be back into it in the coming week.

[BOURBON TASTING] – Sam Snead’s House of Whiskey

Other than beer, I do enjoy American Bourbon. Sam Snead’s House of Whiskey held a Single Barrel Bourbon tasting on Wednesday 19th Feb.

I had a privilege of being able to share with 40 of their guests some of the new Epic Carolina, Amber Ale.

It was a fun evening and I thank all those that attended for being patient with me, as I tried to learn more about Bourbon. Even if Mr Kelly was obsessed with “barometric pressure” ;-)

2014-02-19 19.11.46 Six Single Barrel Bourbons

2014-02-19 19.12.15 Single Barrel Bourbon Tasting

2014-02-19 19.12.24 Evan Williams Single Barrel 43.3%

2014-02-19 19.12.33 Willet Reserve Pot Still 47%

2014-02-19 19.12.42 Blanton’s Single Barrel 46.5%

2014-02-19 19.12.54 Jak’s Jack Daniels Single Barrel 45%

2014-02-19 19.13.07 Four Roses Single Barrel 50%

2014-02-19 19.13.15 Knob Creek Single Barrel 60%

2014-02-19 19.28.49 Mr Sam Snead himself – great teller of stories about whiskey

2014-02-19 19.06.29 Nigel Kelly before my questioning started

2014-02-19 19.06.05 Tasting Bourbon

2014-02-19 19.34.34 Very cool slide about how much bourbon is lost over time

2014-02-19 19.06.16

2014-02-19 19.02.00 The bottles we tasted (not the best pic I’ve ever taken)

2014-02-19 19.06.22 Enough with the “barometric pressure” already


A few more pictures from the evenings tasting.

Cool Link:

Barreling Ahead: Whiskey-Makers Break Cherished Traditions to Create New Flavors

[EPIC] Beer Launch & Eminem VIP Bar

It all started one Friday afternoon, early January 2014, with a brewer and hot sauce maker, tasting hot sauces and tasting beer.

The conversation eventually ended up on “hey I am going to be releasing a hot sauce in February”, I said “I’m going to be brewing a new one off beer for release in kegs only in February”. Why don’t we do a release together. I’ll style my beer so it complements your new hot sauce (which uses the hottest chillies in the world, the Carolina Reaper).

From this point we had a plan which eventuated on Friday with the beer release and hot sauce eating competition.

Epic Carolina + Culley’s Carolina Reaper = Beer & Hot Sauce Launch
Friday 14th February 2014
Finally on tap

Those bright red chillies are the Carolina Reapers. The worlds hottest chilli coming in at over 2 million scoville units.

At the start of the day things were a bit nerve racking at the brewery as the beer was still in the conditioning tank. It still needed to be filtered, kegged and delivered, all before the 5pm kick off. There had been delays in the brewery earlier in the week, which had meant that there wasn’t a tank ready to filter into till Friday morning.

At noon four kegs of the new Epic Carolina Amber Ale 7.2% abv were loaded into the car and swiftly delivered to Brew on Quay, ready for things to kick off at 5pm.

We have a few promotional Culley’s Epic Carolina tshirst for bar staff, and for prizes. Want one?

At 5pm the beer was pouring and there was a chance for everyone to have a taste through the range of hot sauces from Culley’s.

The hot sauce eating competition required the signing of a waiver, and wearing of coveralls and gloves. There were 5 rounds of eating hot wings which became progressively hotter, and the final being the eating of a Carolina Reaper.

More details will follow once I get hold of some of the video footage from the evening. The next Epic Carolina release party is House on Hood on Thursday 20th February.

Eminem concert – Saturday 15 February 2014

Epic was invited to run the backstage VIP bar for concert promoter Paul Dainty at the Rapture 2014 concert at Western Springs on Saturday night.

We stocked the fridge and served the beer (wine, bubbles and food), but mostly beer, which is what people wanted, which was pretty cool. The VIPers started the evening by just drinking the lager, some even just asking for a beer.

There were quite a few that were already Epic fans, more that were aware of the brand and thought it was pretty cool to have the beer at the VIP area.

One of the first people into the VIP tent went straight for the Double Stout. I said do you know what you are drinking. He said “yes, I love stouts and this is one of my favourites.” Wow, great start.

Even though we had more Lager bottles than anything else, we ran out of it first. The people moved to Pale Ale and IPA, which everyone seemed to enjoy. Many people sampled the range of beers we had, with quite a few trading up to the more flavourful beers from the Lager.

The best benefit of running this bar was we got VIP passes. The bar was closed as soon as Eminem came on stage and we got to enjoy his whole show. This was a super fun way to experience a concert.

Special thanks to Bernie, Joanie, Rob, Paul and Ayesha for giving us the opportunity to be part of the show, and the Epic A-Team (you know who you are, we need to talk about the name though) for running things so smoothly.

Panorama of Western Springs
We need more beer and ice
Looks like people like Hop Zombie
Delivery vehicle for beer and food
Lager sold fast
A few even traded up to LaRger
Day Time
Night Time

[THIS DAY IN 1997] Michael Jackson (beer writer) in New Zealand

13 February 1997

This was the first really significant event in my brewing career, meeting Michael Jackson (beer writer).

I had been working at Steam Brewing Company (brewing arm of the Cock & Bull pub, when it was just a brewpub) for only 6 weeks when the world’s leading expert on beer came and visited. His very first, of only two visits to New Zealand.

Looking back to this time I’m really grateful to Kieran Meyer, Ben Middlemiss and Steve Kermode who all took a risk to employ an overly keen and brewing obsessed kid who had bugged them for a job for a year.

It was a real privilege to meet Michael, considering most of my beer style knowledge had come from reading a number of his books from cover to cover, multiple times.

It can be said that he was the single most influential person in history to document beer, and reignite the passion and excitement into beer styles, their flavours and diversity.

2 Million Scoville, Epic Carolina, Trademarks & Blogs

If you are attending the launch of Epic Carolina at Brew on Quay this Friday, and are brave enough to enter the hot wings eating competition, then this is the outfit you will be required to wear for safety reasons (plus gloves, not shown).

5pm – Beer Launch
6pm – Hot Wings Competition
7pm – Putting out the fire with gasoline

Carolina Reaper chillies are 400 times hotter than Jalapeños



A great follow up to Get Radler Back by Jono Galuszka, this time with guest writer and IP Lawyer Paul Johns – Radler recycled?

I haven’t followed up very well with the IP lawyers that contacted my after my post
Craft Beer Trademark Wars in New Zealand just haven’t had the time (sorry). I was lucky enough to have the Epic IP lawyer Emma McBride from AJ Park write Introduction to trade marks for craft brewers in New Zealand, hopefully it is a good starting point for those new to trademarks.

There have been a couple of offers to do presentations to groups of brewers if interested. Email me if you are interested in attending a presentation of trademarks for craft brewers.


Sweet post Dylan – Craft Beer On The Street. Loving the creativity and photography of this blog post. I love seeing craft beer as litter on the streets, and also am curious to see what beers the neighbours drink as I walk past their recycle bins.

It’s awesome when people find a fresh way of looking at craft beer.


An update of articles that have frustrated me recently due to quality of reporting.

Competition puts a cap on beer prices by Hamish McNicol
I would really love it if some one could read this article and tell me what the purpose of it is.

– with one analyst suggesting New Zealand has a “beer glut”.  Why not name the analyst?
– price static
– the only thing that stands out that is of “within the beer category there was a “story within a story”, as premium and craft beer segments continued to grow.”
– over all it says prices are a little lower and there isn’t much growth. Therefore no story here?

Landscape gets rival in craft brews by Che Baker

It said there were 1500 people, this pic seems to show a few less than that number. (original photo from a punter who said it was more like 500 people)
Interview with Irish dude who says “the beers taste different to Guinness”
Finland dude says “more fruity and a bit lighter”
The coolest thing from the event must be this photo of a lot of the brewers that attended the event. Very jealous I couldn’t join them.

Website should be updated in the morning http://www.carolinareaper.co.nz
Also win Culley’s Prize Packs

[NEW BEER] – Epic Carolina – Putting Out The Fire With Gasoline

Epic has a new beer which we are launching this Friday, 5pm, 14th February at Brew on Quay.

The beer was designed to complement the launch of the new limited release hot sauce from Culley’s called Carolina Reaper.

This is the hottest sauce that Culley’s has made to date. The Carolina Reaper, which is now the hottest chile in the world at over 2 million scoville units.

On Friday you will be able to taste the new beer, taste this hot sauce as well as the range of Culley’s hot sauces. Then at 6pm for the brave few, there will be a hot wing eating competition. There will be prizes, tears, pain, and a lot of laughs.

You can RSVP to the event on Facebook.

So a bit about the beer.

The beer is an Amber Ale, 7.2% abv, the bitterness tastes like it is noticeably higher than the 58 IBU’s it was targeted. There are no chillies in the beer. The hops are Chinook and Centennial. It is dry hopped at a rate between Armageddon and Hop Zombie. This beer is only going to be available on tap (so no bottles) and for a limited time.

The aroma has a big punchy citrus and piney character, flavour is hop driven, with some crystal/caramel malt characters in the background before you get a noticeable slam of forceful hop bitterness. A big beer for a big hot sauce.

When I was coming up with the recipe for the beer to match with a hot sauce all I could think about was the David Bowie song “Putting out the fire with gasoline”.

Why?? Did you know when you drink an alcohol based beverage after eating hot food or chillies, the alcohol actually helps to evenly disperse the capsaicin oils around your mouth therefore making the burn hotter? Hence “Putting out the fire with gasoline”

So now to the Poll

Which version of the David Bowie song “Putting out the fire” do you prefer?

Original – play song   OR  Let’s Dance – play song

Hope I have remembered everything about the beer, and the event. If not there will surely be an update tomorrow.

[FRIDAY DRINKS] – Trademarks and the Free Market

Trademarks – I have been contacted by several, helpful and friendly IP lawyers. I am not sure about the next step. I have had offers of helping with writing a beginners guide, to offers to do presentations for a group of local brewers.

It has become much larger than I anticipated. Is there a way I can get multiple IP lawyers to contribute together to get the ultimate beginners guide to craft beer trademarking? Or am I going to have to partner with just one? I will get in contact next week with all parties that have made offers to help and work out a solution where hopefully everyone can win.

Next week I am thinking about tackling the topic of “understanding the free market, and do we really operate in a free market”. I got to this point with a comment about customers want to buy Epic from the shelves of a supermarket, but because other breweries buy shelf space, the supermarket can’t stock Epic (insert name of any craft beer brand here) for the customers that want to buy it.

So it will be a call out to the craft brewing industries favourite economist Eric Crampton to help me make sense of this.

It is a similar argument with the contracting of beer taps by the large breweries. How can it be a free market if the duopoly create a barrier to entry through the purchasing on beer taps from bars, therefore stopping them from being able to stock anything they or their drinkers want.

I’m told it isn’t illegal as it is an agreement between the bar owner and the brewery. The bar gets cash or other incentives in return for letting the brewery to have exclusive rights to pouring their beer through those taps for an agreed period of time.

Maybe it might also be fun to get some figures from a bar and look at a comparison of going on contract or being a freehouse and offering beers that customers want to buy. Be interesting to see if getting cash from a large brewery is a better business decision than going it on your own and just stocking the best beer available for your beer drinking public.

Discussion from Facebook

  • Sam Whitney yes but if capitalism is your only interest you are already fucked.


    • Luke Nicholas the point I care to make is that craft beers have a high barrier to entry, not from the set up cost (as many are contract brewing) but actually getting a far showing in the market place, by getting shelf space, without having to pay for it.


  • Richard Kelsey The Australian Commerce Commission is investigating the buying of tap contracts by the big two over here (Lion / CUB). Would be interesting if the same occurred in NZ with Lion & DB


  • Leon Grandy Distributors are close to end customers, this makes them very valuable. Ultimately, its their decision. But informed customers can and do vote with their feet and their wallets.


  • Joseph Benjamin Smith It’s a very simple decision for me. In Auckland in particular rent for a decent site for a bar is ridiculously expensive. So much so that around 80% of new bars fail in the first 2 years. Thus taking 50-100k from Lion to fit their bar out and own their…See More
    Like · Reply · 1 · 7 February at 23:29 · Edited


  • Luke Nicholas I want to propose that this isn’t the only way to start a bar, because at the end of the day all these bars end up offering the cheapest beer options, and they need to move large volumes to meet their contracts. Can craft beer give a higher dollar return?


  • Leon Grandy Aussie is a big place. They will go for a big walk, because the prizes are big too.


  • Mark Thomas · Friends with Paul Tudor

    I’ve been surprised that the Lumsden can sell a pint of great craft beer for about the same price that other bars sell Macs or Monteiths. The difference in the cost of bottles of the same beers in supermarkets is massive. Lion and DB must get their money back pretty quickly




Today was exceptionally busy.

Started the day with trialling out our new still, and distilled some Message in a Bottle. Unfortunately we ended up with a few cases left over, after its best before date. So we can’t sell it anymore. Even though it is tasting as good as it ever has. So I thought it might be a bit of fun to make some spirit out of it.

Then I had the privilege of meeting and having lunch with Richard Shirtcliffe the new CEO from Tuatara Brewing Company. What a great guy, and so super positive about craft beer and also New Zealand. I am excited to have Richard as part of the craft brewing industry in New Zealand.

I asked the waitress what the most popular item on the menu was, she said the steak sandwich so I had it. It was average to fair, I did find the small steak pieces a bit chewy. Overall a little dry, could have used some mayo or sauce.

OK Lumsden what is the idea of having an amazing “Build Your Own Salad” that no one knows or talks about? This is incredible and its only $9, I am totally trying this next time.

You get to build your salad from the ground up.

It looks incredible.

Stop keeping this a secret.

On returning to the office, it was time to bottle a couple of batches of beer, that were trial recipes from the ePICO Brewery. One was an Old Ale and other a small beer.

The Epic Team as usual loves to get involved and learn and experience new stuff with brewing and beer. I ended up just being the guy taking photos.

Next we had a meeting with our friends from Culley’s (makers of chilli sauces)

They have just produced a new hot sauce, their hottest yet. This time using the hottest chillies in the world “Carolina Reapers”

We said a sauce that hot needs a cold beer to put out the fire. So we have brewed something up, a one off limited release beer to go with this limited release hot sauce.

Our new beer is Epic Carolina. It is an Amber Ale 7.2% abv, Hopped with Centennial and Chinook (sorry Niels)

No we didn’t use any chillies in making it. It is to help put out the fire.

The launch party is from 5pm on Friday 14th February at Brew on Quay. There will be tastings of the beer and hot sauce. There will also be a hot wings eat competition.

We also have a date for Hamilton at House – 20 Feb.

There will be other dates and locations announced next week where we will be turning up and tasting the hot sauce and beer.

After the Carolina meeting I did an ageing tasting on the most current batches of our Epic Pale Ale. Just to make sure the aroma and flavour in each of the batches in stock are holding up OK. 330ml batches are all good. I am going to revisit the 500ml again on Friday just to double check, with the brewsheet in hand. One seems to be a little low on aroma, so need to work out what was done differently. But nothing you should worry about.

(I was told I should blog about doing these tastings)

End of the day, we did some tasting of the new hot sauce and some beer. It went well. These are some crazy hot chillies. I took a half of the Carolina Reaper in the photo and just touched it to my tongue (didn’t eat any) and it burned like crazy, lasted like 15 minutes. Just a touch, man thats some hot stuff.

Yes and we had some BBQ’ed bacon, because that is how we roll.

Some times things just happen. It started with “hey the purple of your dress is the same as the Armageddon label” and ended up as an Armageddon bottle Angel.