Day 6 – Beers of Auckland – Epic Lager

Next week I’ll need to do more planing and not just go with the flow when it comes to drinking Auckland brewed beers at the weekend.

Beers of Auckland Advent Calendar 2014
DAY 6 – Epic Lager by Epic Brewing Company

Epic Lager Mow The LawnBOTTLE: Epic Lager
BREWED: Steam Brewing Company
ABV: 5.0%
IBU: 25
HOPS: US Liberty, US Santiam, (currently also includes some GR Hersbrucker)
AWARDS: Keeps winning silver, but never a gold. Feedback is always too hoppy for style, that will be from the dry hopping.

Epic Lager lives in the shadows of the hops, pale ale and IPA’s of the family. It isn’t often talked about, and is always the last resort beer for people who can’t handle the hoppy ones.

In the early years it was reviewed several times to look at dropping it as a beer in the family, as it was never my intention to make a lager (now it makes up a significant dollar value in sales) . The Epic Lager was brewed as a response to the market feedback from tastings of the Pale Ale in 2006. People initially said the Pale Ale had too much flavour. (funny to get the feedback now 9 years later and people saying how malty it is. How tastes have changed). I positioned it between the hoppy Pale Ale and the green bottled lagers that the mainstream drink. I wanted a stepping stone to help people into the brand. A lager that was pale and light in colour, but had a floral hoppy aroma, and hoppy bitter taste.

It is different from the other craft breweries Pilsners which are driven by big tropical NZ hop character.

Epic Lager continually has its recipe tweaked, and if you haven’t had it in a while then now is as good as any time to give it a taste again.

If you really want to give it a real chance, don’t drink it after the Pale Ale like so many people do. Drink it after say, a green bottled lager, or on a fresh/clean palate. This way you will appreciate the floral and citrusy aroma. The citrus comes through in the flavour as more lime than lemon, with a sprinkling of pepper and salt, which suggests it might be worth trying with salt & pepper squid (sorry, a little hungry). The finish is soft and dry, with the citrus note developing into something more herbal. It definitely offers some great drinkability.

Over the last couple of the years the beer has quietly gained more and more popularity and continues to surprise especially with big jumps in sales during this time of year as new people try it. The handful of places with it on tap, go through a surprising number of kegs every month.

A great place to try this on tap in Auckland is Corner Bar (Hotel de Brett). They even serve it in the Epic Lager glasses.

Craft Beer in Auckland

#craftbeer, #auckland, #newzealand, #epiclager #epicbeer #adventcalendar

Day 5 – Beers of Auckland – Epic Pale Ale

Epic Pale Ale, I know, but it was going to happen eventually. I was going to make it the first beer, but discovered Beachstone on Day 1.

So how did I end up here already, falling back on an easy to get Auckland made beer? I was intending to visit Sky Sports Grill at lunch time to see if I could get my hands on a Laughing Bones beer. I couldn’t make the time for this to happen today. I did make it into Hopscotch and caught up with Hugh. It’s been ages. I was there to pick up some sour beers for a tasting this weekend. Hopscotch has a secret (not so much now) but pretty cool selection of sour beers , many of which I haven’t tried before.

After collecting a few bottles of sours, I asked Hugh “what Auckland brewed beer do you have here” that I can buy for tasting today for the Beers of Auckland Advent Calendar. (Not including Epic, Hallertau or Liberty). The answer was none. We discussed a little further over a can of Beavertown Gamma Ray, which was a super tasty American style Pale Ale, in amazingly fresh condition. It is like drinking overly dryhopped Pale Ale, that hasn’t been fined or filtered, resiny, yum (Thanks to Beertique, who are bringing it in, in refrigerated containers from the UK, only enough stock of each beer so there isn’t stock sitting around for months or years. Very impressed, it is inspiring confidence in the beers they are bring in).

Is it that hard to find Auckland Brewed beer in Auckland?

So I get back to the office and Ed (Production Manager) says, dude there is a four pack of a fresh batch of pale ale in the fridge for you to take home tonight to try. Basically she was giving me home work to do. The good kind of homework. Sometime there isn’t enough time to get tastings done during work hours.

Beers of Auckland Advent Calendar 2014
DAY 5 – Epic Pale Ale by Epic Brewing Company

Epic - SummerBOTTLE: Epic Pale Ale
BREWED: Steam Brewing Company
ABV: 5.4%
IBU: 45
HOPS: US Cascade (15 hop flowers, not different varieties)
AWARDS: Best in Class – New World Beer & Cider Awards 2014 (plus a few other, ok alot, of awards including Supreme Champion Beer 2006, NZ Beer Awards)

Best Before 19/11/15 (we put 12 months best before on our bottles, they are pasteurized, but at a low level, 12-14 PU’s) Batch 902 11:06am

Feels a little weird review this beer, which I taste most days. But here goes. Out of the Spiegelau IPA glass.

Aroma is perfumy in a floral way, centered around turkish delight, with highlights of citrus, spice and a green hoppiness. The flavour is violet-like(floral), with hop resin, the malt balances with the hoppiness, but the finish is clean and soft, with a dry bitterness, and a long lingering hop flavour. Tasting pretty fine.

This is Epic’s biggest selling beer, and likely New Zealand’s best-selling Pale Ale from an independent craft brewery.  The hops have been from the Yakima Valley for the last 3 years, but the 2014 crop the Cascade hops were selected from a Oregon hop farm. So it will be interesting to see how much the beer changes in the coming months, once the new seasons hops kick in.

Epic 8th BirthdayNext Friday 12th December 2014 is the Epic 9th Birthday, being held at the Lumsden Freehouse (lots of out-door space for drinking in the sun, and under umbrellas for shade when it gets too hot). You are invited to join the festivities, there is a new beer being launched on the day “1991 IPA” plus a few other treats and surprises.

Guess I could ramble on about many things Epic, and Pale Ale, but you have done well to read to this point.

#craftbeer, #auckland, #newzealand, #epicpaleale

Craft Beer in Auckland

Day 4 – Beers of Auckland – Pale Pat Supreme

Last night at the Lumsden Freehouse, I was talking with Phil Dale from Beertique, and we discussed doing a tasting of his new imported beers which have just arrived. I said why not tomorrow morning? So this morning Phil turns up with some beers for us to taste. The first one we tasted was Pale Pat Supreme from Brew Mountain (yes Beertique have started distributing some of the newer start-up craft brewers). “WOW” Totally took me by surprise.

Beers of Auckland Advent Calendar 2014
DAY 4 – Pale Pat Supreme by Brew Mountain

Pale Pat SupremeBOTTLE: Pale Pat Supreme 330ml
BREWED: Liberty Brewing Company (The Beer Fountain)
ABV: 4.6%
The aroma is totally New Zealand hops, big and bright but not punchy and in your face. Just right. Memories of Mash Up came flooding back. The balance of this beer is pure class. I immediately call this one of the best beers I have tried this year, and give it a 5/5 on Untappd. The malt and hop are really gentle yet obvious, big and satisfying. The balance is incredible. It comes across as having plenty of hop flavour, but delivered in a delicate balanced marriage with the malt. Absolute finesse.

I thought this beer was from Taranaki. Well it generally is, but they recently got some help from ex-Taranaki based super brewer Joseph “101 oysters in my belly” Wood of Liberty Brewing. (Therefore this batch is actually brewed in Auckland, and it makes the Beers of Auckland Advent Calendar).

I was going to write something about Kelly Ryan another super brewer (who I’ve had the privilege of working with in the past) and his contribution to Brew Mountain. Or maybe a photo of Kelly and Liam while on tour in the US earlier this year (what goes on tour boys, right?). Or Shannon. But no. Just get your hands on this beer, and read the articles below.

Great work guys, keep it up. I know once people get a taste of this beer they will be buying heaps more if it.

 

Some background articles: 

Brew Mountain Guys Shannon and LiamBrew Mountain brewery on swift climb to success – 1 Dec 2014

Just six months after it began, Brew Mountain, a small brewery founded by Liam Tranter and brothers Shannon and Kelly Ryan, has expanded its product range to include bottles of its first and most popular beer, Pale Pat Supreme.

The ascent of Brew Mountain – 10 Jun 2014

One of the boxing writers referred to him at the time as “pale Pat supreme with the choir boy looks”

Many titles, many roles for boxing stalwart (Pat Ryan) – 18 Oct 2013

Ryan, who represented New Zealand at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich

#craftbeer #auckland #newzealand

Craft Beer in Auckland

Day 3 – Beers of Auckland – Hot Water Brewing Barley Wine

LumsdenAs I think about how to track down Auckland brewed craft beer on tap I am finding it not as easy as I thought. Tonight I attended an event at The Lumsden and found that they have a South Island tap takeover. (pretty cool story. Evan the owner of the Lumsden Freehouse, headed to the South Island, rented a re-location Camper Van for $5 a day, and spent a week traveling around the South Island visiting craft breweries and picking up kegs, and putting them in the back of the camper van. The trip was called Lumsden to Lumsden. Check out their twitter, follow them if you aren’t. If you live in Auckland you should visit the Lumsden right now as there are beers from the South Island you won’t see in Auckland again on tap).

So I arrive and find there aren’t any beers on tap. Boo. (well boo for this Advent Calendar Boo, not for the cool selection of beers we don’t normally see here in Auckland).  Next I check out the bottled beer list. All I see is Epic (I have this as back up beer for the days I really get stuck on the Advent Calendar), Liberty & Hallertau also, but it is my plan to visit them and drink from the Fountain. I am recommended Behemoth and Schippers but the bartender can’t confirm where the beer was brewed, and I said I need to know it is brewed in Auckland.

I am now digging deep, I nearly consider getting a Steinlager Pure (the 102 metre dive could be an interesting angle) but can’t bring myself to do it. I ask for a Boundary Road Brewery Flying Fortress, with a screwed up face and probably funny sounding voice. They say we sold the last bottle a couple of days of go. I have a big sigh of relief. I am still stuck though. Oh no, what am I going to do?? Damn it, I’ll have a Hallertau #3. This isn’t the beer I wanted to review from Hallertau. I made some notes, but my evening continued on. Not happy.

I caught up with heaps of great beer industry people. Including John Morawski and asked him what beers from Laughing Bones I could try and where I could try them. I was a little confused when I assumed his beers would be on at Brothers Beer where he brews his beer, but he said they don’t stock them. He did say that his beer would be on again at Sky Sports Grill in the next couple of days.

Dave Kurth Fashion
Dave Kurth with an amazing Westport hand knitted jersey on

Dave Kurth from Hot Water Brewing Company was there and for some reason he was the lucky brewer tonight, as one of the South Island kegs ran out and his Kauri Pale Ale was put on and was tasting as good as I have ever tasted it. (quick get to the Lumsden ASAP to try some). It is always a pleasure to catch up with Dave, as I am assured of receiving some form of verbal abuse or teasing. (Love you Dave, and you make great beer, pity no one realises that yet)

Finally I catch up with Joseph Wood from Liberty Brewing Company, who turns up late. I was planning to head to Riverhead this evening to spectate at the Oyster 100 Club, but couldn’t bare driving out there and back to the Lumsden in the Auckland traffic. Joseph ate 101 Oyster in an hour and a half, and then drove to the city (with his lovely wife Christina). First thing I do is to run over and punch him in the guts. Yes he was in a distressed state and I believe he has actually eaten that many oysters. What a legend. Must also give a shout to The Plow, Dave Huff and Tom Madams from Cryer Malt, all of who ate 100 Oysters as well. Seems like an odd and difficult way to get a free tshirt. Eat $100 of oysters. Steve, you own the company, just buy a tshirt, and avoid the gastric distress. I am interested in hearing about how all four of you feel tomorrow morning.

OK, getting to the point of Day 3 of Beer of Auckland Advent Calendar. It was less than a perfect situation, so I have stretched my definition of Auckland, to Greater Auckland and included Whenuakite. Joe comes out (outside was a lovely evening with a moon getting close to full, slightly cool, a few clouds and the light getting low and dusky) with a can of the Hot Water Brewing Company 2014 Barley Wine. BOOM. That is the beer. (Cheers Joe for giving me the other half of the can)

So I had to revert to a can!?

Beers of Auckland Advent Calendar 2014
Hot Water Brewing Barley WineDAY 3 – 2014 Barley Wine by Hot Water Brewing Company

CAN: 2014 Barley Wine (355ml, 12 oz, can. I don’t know why)
BREWED: Hot Water Brewing Company
ABV: 9.5%
IBU: ??
HOPS: ??
AWARDS: Gold – 2014 NZ Beer Awards

Barley Wines are not that easy to make, and really hard to sell, especially in this country. Only a small handful of breweries make them. Dave made a couple of Barley Wines while brewing at West Coast Brewing Company, which were pretty nice. But he has really nailed it on this batch. I would call out that this is currently the best Barley Wine in New Zealand. (go on show me a better one. this did just win Gold).

Aroma is rich and malty, with a slight grain huskiness when cold but as it warms there is more caramel and toffee notes. The flavour is sweet but not cloying like some barley wines, notes of toffee and raisins, fruitiness, and barley sugars. The finish seems dry and light , with a bitter edge, but after a couple of mouthfuls this lighter finish actually makes the beer more drinkable than what one would expect from a Barley Wine.

So after a nearly traumatic evening not knowing what I was going to write about I ended up with a special treat, and even got to spend some time with the brewer. You never know what craft brewer you will meet in a craft beer bar in Auckland.

#craftbeer #auckland #newzealand

Craft Beer in Auckland

Day 2 – Beers of Auckland – 3D IPA Isthmus Brewing

Beers of Auckland Advent Calendar 2014
DAY 2 – 3D IPA by Isthmus Brewing Company

isthmus 3d ipaTAP: Sky Sports Grill
BREWED: Deep Creek Brewing Company
ABV: 6.6%
IBU: 80 (wow, was surprised it was so high, very well balance, and perceived much lower)
HOPS: Pacific Jade, Simcoe, Amarillo, Citra, Columbus, Centennial, NZ Cascade
AWARDS: Bronze, BGNZ Awards 2014

The beer presented pretty well, mostly bright but maybe a little haze, but could have been the condensation (OK it wasn’t, very slight haze). Lovely hoppy aroma, which I found was driven by the Centennial hops, with floral and berry fruit notes. The flavour has a hoppy/berry fruit sweetness and a nutty/caramel malt not. There is a candy like alcohol sweetness in the finish. Over all a pretty fun beer which reminded me a little of Armageddon IPA, but with more malt and a fuller body. There was some suggestion that the beer is starting to get on a little, but worth a try if you find it.

“Isthmus Brewing is a small Auckland craft beer company and collaboration between two passionate beer geeks, Matt Littlejohn and Hamish Ward. They are both professional scientists and the company grew out of home brewing together while both working at an Auckland biotech company. Hamish has now moved on to being Deep Creek’s head brewer, and Matt now works as a research scientist at the Uni of Auckland. They contract brew through Deep Creek though own our own fermenters out there.

(Sorry I forgot to find out why its called 3D)

Open for suggestions on how to make these notes/reviews more fun.
**What do you want to know about?
***What would make you head out and try it these beers?

 

#craftbeer #auckland #newzealand

Craft Beer in Auckland

How Many Breweries in Auckland
http://www.luke.co.nz/2014/08/how-many-breweries-in-auckland/

Day 1 – Beers of Auckland Advent Calendar 2014

Beer Advent CalIt’s that time of year and the countdown is on for Christmas. I had a thought about Beer Advent Calendars, which then led me to thinking about maybe reviewing a beer a day till Christmas. I needed a theme, so I have come up with the “Beers of Auckland Advent Calendar 2014”. I am planning on tasting at least one beer from each Auckland based craft brewery. Brewed in Auckland, Drink in Auckland.

New Zealand’s biggest city has been slow to the game when it comes to craft beer, but things are moving in the right direction, and at an ever-increasing pace.

DAY 1 – BEACHSTONE by Bach Brewing Company

Bach Brewing BeachstoneTAP: Sky Sports Grill
BREWED: Steam Brewing Company
ABV: 4.8%
IBU: 30+ (perceived closer to 40 IBU, but could be from the dry finish)
HOPS: Pacific Jade, Pacifica, Riwaka, Motueka and Nelson Sauvin

The use of these hops is obvious when you smell and taste the beer. It has a real NZ hop, tropical fruit and citrus aroma and upfront flavour. In the finish the hops evolve into a herbal grassyness which only NZ hops can do. The bitterness is for grown ups, and might make regular “green bottled lager” drinkers cry a little, and cower in the corner.

With the punchy hops, there is a solid and juicy malt base (from the Bohemian Pilsner and Vienna malt) that carries the bitterness to the end.

When drinking this I thought of Emerson’s and Tuatara Pilsners, both which have historically had the serious NZ hops driving their flavours. As of recently though both have left me less than satisfied and not meeting expectations. Beachstone looks as though it has the ability to pick up the baton. Great example of a New Zealand Pilsner.

OTHER STUFF:

Today I also tasted the Sawmill Brewery (sorry not counting them as from Auckland) Hefeweizen, tasting amazing (at Sky Sports Grill) and the best I have ever had it. Perfect banana and clove character. The yeast load was a bit high, but probably worth drinking through it if you love Hefewezien’s

New BAC level of 0.05 came into law today. If the message is don’t drive if you have had a drink, then maybe the change should have been to have a zero tolerance for alcohol. It seems like a great opportunity for the media to add value and share some facts, backed with science about the effects of alcohol, and understanding how to work out your limits. Is going to dinner and having a couple of glasses of wine OK with your meal? Is scare-mongering more effective over the long-term vs education using facts and science?

#craftbeer #auckland #newzealand

Craft Beer in Auckland

How Many Breweries in Auckland?

Beer Fountain - Hallertau LibertyThe Brewers Guild of New Zealand have announced (see below) that they had received 670 beers entries from 82 breweries for the 2014 NZ Beer Awards. This is pretty exciting news as it is a record number of entries for the competition.

The piece of information that surprised me in the press release was that there are 18 breweries in Auckland that have entered. I guess it has been awhile since anyone has actually counted / listed the breweries (beer brands) in Auckland. I hadn’t given it much thought, hence the surprise.

Below is a list of breweries (bold) and beer brands (contract brewed). My count here is 29? breweries/brands. If you can think of any others let me know and I’ll update this list.

 

Lion Breweries
– Macs
– Crafty Beggars

DB Breweries
– Monteith’s

Independent Liquor
– Boundary Road Brewery
– Founders

Steam Brewing Company
– Epic Brewing Company
– Bach Brewing Company
– 8 Wired Brewing
– Croucher Brewing
– Galbraith’s Brewing Company

The Beer Fountain
– Hallertau Brewpub
– Liberty Brewing Company
Behemoth Brewing Company

Shakespeare Brewery – brewpub

Brothers Beer – brewpub
Laughing Bones Brewing

Deep Creek Brewery – brewpub

Galbraith’s Brewing Company – brewpub

Waiheke Island Brewery – brewpub (Wild on Waiheke)

Leigh Sawmill Brewery – brewpub?

Hancocks – brewed at McCashins

Black Sands Brewery

  • Ben Middlemiss Brewing Company
    – Schippers Beer

Zeppelin BrewingGovernors Lager
Weezeldog Brewing – Brewed at Zeppelin Brewing

Dedwood Brewing Co. – not sure if this is still going. I think it was a Williams Warn system set up by Luke Dellow in his bar Tin Soldier. Guess this gets the title for smallest commercial brewery in New Zealand at 20 litres? Could this be called a brewpub?

1010 Brewing – Sales St, is this still open? Are they still brewing? Brewpub

Little Empire Brewing – The Crown (previously The Brewery Britomart) now used as a small test/trial brewery for Lion brewers. Not even sure the official name for the brewery, or how often they brew. Guess it is time for a quick visit. Brewpub

Ale Chaps Brewing – Waiheke ( Amelia Beerhart )

How many breweries in Auckland?

[ready_google_map id=’1′]

 

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Beer judges fizzing to find New Zealand’s champion brewery

A record number of New Zealand breweries are vying to be crowned beer champion at New Zealand’s prestigious beer awards, the 2014 Brewers’ Guild of New Zealand Awards.

Now in its eight year, entries for the beer awards officially closed last week with more than 670 beers from 82 breweries being nominated across seventeen beer categories.  A total of 72 breweries were nominated from New Zealand.

Brewers Guild Chairman, Craig Bowen, said New Zealand breweries had been performing well in international competitions.  He was looking forward to seeing this level of quality and success translated to the New Zealand stage.

“Beer brewing has exploded in recent times – amongst hobbyists and professional brewers alike.   In the last two years, the number of professional brewing operations in New Zealand has increased by more than a third.

“That confirms that New Zealand is enjoying a golden period for brewing in terms of the variety and quality of beers produced.  These Awards are the epitome of the $2.2 billion beer industry, and reward those who are especially talented at brewing quality beer,” he said.

The Brewers’ Guild of New Zealand Awards is an international competition, with entries from throughout New Zealand and the world.  Judging will take place over three days from 8 August with the judging panel comprising 25 national and internationally qualified judges.

All beer entries will be rated against a style guide for each category for its aroma, colour, bitterness, flavour and presentation.  A beer’s overall balance of characteristics, with all those factors taken into account, is then rated and judges decide whether it’s worthy of a gold, silver or bronze medal.

Winners of the 2014 Brewers Guild Awards of New Zealand will be announced at a gala dinner on 21 August at Shed 6, Wellington.

This year, Auckland has the most number of breweries vying for awards, with 18 breweries entered.  Last year, Marlborough-based Renaissance Brewing was crowned 2013 New Zealand Champion.

For more information including a list of all categories and beers nominated for the Awards, visit www.brewersguild.org.nz/awards

2014 Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards – nominations by region:

Northland – 1Bay of Plenty -5Wellington – 12Taranaki – 1Otago – 2
Auckland – 18Hawkes Bay  – 5Nelson/Tasman -7Canterbury – 12Southland – 1
Waikato – 2Poverty Bay – 2Marlborough – 3West Coast – 1International – 10

 

The Food Show – Auckland 2014 (Day 1 & 2)

Epic & Culleys Food Show ComboCurrently I’m spending my days at the Auckland Food Show (31 July to 3rd August). We are half way through and things are going great. If you are looking for a reason or two to attend then we have them. There is the amazing super combo offer from Culley’s & Epic. 4 different 500ml Epic beers and 4 different bottles of Culley’s Hot Sauce for just $40. Plus we will even deliver it to you so you don’t have to carry it around the show (as it is kind of heavy). This offer is only available at the show, so you need to turn up. We also have some crazy pricing on single bottles of Epic beer for the show only (even though a couple of people purchased while cases of Armageddon, Hop Zombie and Lupulingus). You do have to carry these away though.

 

 

The Matador Pie from Green Meadows, Culley's and EpicEven though there are lots of wonderful things to sample at The Food Show over the weekend, if you are looking for one of the best pies ever then try “THE MATADOR” from Green Meadows Beef (stand K38) that has both Culley’s hot sauce (Best In The World) and Epic Beer Imperium. There is a wonderful beer & beef flavour, huge chunks of awesome beef and the perfect amount of flakey pastry wrapping it together. Oh and the chilli? well when you are eating the pie, your tongue is telling you it is hot in temperature, but by the time you are half way through you realise that the heat is actually coming from the chilli, and the spicy heat stays with you well after you have eaten the pie, in a really really good way. YUM!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Food Show Epic Beer Culley's

If you do come to the Food Show over the weekend come by and say “HI”. Make sure you taste the two new beers if you haven’t – Lupulingus and Imperium. We also have some 2013 Coffee & Fig for sampling and buy (as it is now hard to find out in the wild).

 

 

At the Food Show you can find Epic Beer & Culley’s on stand N4, which is in Hall 1. See you there.