Monthly Archives: August, 2017

Has New Zealand reached ‘peak beer’?

August 14th, 2017 Posted by News, Uncategorized No Comment yet
LUKE NICHOLAS on “Has New Zealand reached ‘peak beer’?”

Starting out as an assistant brewing for a new brewpub in Auckland in 1997, the challenge was to get people to drink a beer from other than one of the two big breweries. In 2007, when launching Epic, the challenge was to get a newly bottled craft beer stock on the shelves of supermarkets and liquor stores.

In just 10 years, it has gone from desperately trying to convince a retailer that they should stock a craft beer, to all the shelf space being competed for and beers/brands being removed due to lack of sales, and being replaced with the next beer from the waiting list.

Craft beer is [now] considered the darling of the market. Total beer sales aren’t really changing year on year, but craft beer has been growing at double digit figures within the total beer market.

With the increased awareness and popularity of craft beer, there has been an explosion of new breweries opening around the country. It seems in 2017, that anyone that has ever brewed, has a pocketful of cash, or a friend that is in design is jumping on the craft beer bandwagon.

There are more beers and breweries making beer than there are spaces in the market to sell it or beer drinkers to drink it. All these new breweries coming to market are arriving with a new Pale Ale, and a new IPA. But how many different IPA’s can the New Zealand beer drinking public drink?

Where does all this beer get sold?

New Zealand beer drinkers are spoilt for choice. They can now become fussy and work out what the best beers in each style are, and then narrow what they actually buy, leaving those other beers that don’t offer quality, value or consistency. The future will be a rationalisation of the number of beers on the shelf.

Retailers will stop stocking those beers that just don’t sell.

The dark, unseen side of this is there will be many current small breweries that will go out of business, because they couldn’t compete due to quality issues, branding problems, and overall not being able to offer value to the beer drinker.

We probably have reached peak beer, but within peak beer, there are opportunities for those brewers making really outstanding, world class beers of high quality. These brewers will still be around in another 10 years.

I believe craft beer will continue to grow. The craft beer market will become more and more competitive, and the standard will increase. The quality will improve and become more consistent, and the New Zealand beer drinker will get better and better beer to drink.

Beervana 2017 – Where’s Epic?

August 10th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 3 comments

Over the last few days, a lot of people have asked Luke why we haven’t got a stand at the Beervana festival this year. Here’s Luke’s response:

This is the first year ever that Epic doesn’t have a stand at Beervana.

I love Beervana. I’ve been involved since 2002 when the first seed of Beervana was planted. This was even before Epic existed when I was brewing at Steam Brewing Company for the Cock & Bull pubs and also establishing Back then some of us in the fledgeling NZ craft brew industry came together to create the first competition and event, Brew NZ. We had judging and then a small event (mini beer festival) for a few hundred people at the university. Over time, these events evolved into Beervana and the NZ Beer Awards.

Fifteen years on, the craft beer marketplace and what people want from Beervana has changed. Over the last few years at Beervana I’ve had a huge amount of people come up to our stand and tell me how they love our beer and where they buy it and drink it. But, they also tell me that they’re not buying it at Beervana because they can only drink so much beer and want to try beer from all the exciting new breweries that they can’t get anywhere else. Often they tell me they’re going to go the Malthouse or somewhere afterwards to drink some Epics or they have some waiting in the fridge at home.

To my recollection, we’ve never made a profit at Beervana and have always happily considered it a marketing exercise. I would guess that it’s not a profit making exercise for most breweries. But, as the event size and exhibitor costs have increased, along with punters telling us they’re not buying our beer because they can get it elsewhere, it doesn’t make economic sense for us to keep exhibiting. Like other breweries, we’ve planned evening events every night at various locations to add to the overall Beervana experience and still participate in a way that works for us.

I think it’s great that Beervana has evolved to this point, to give all of these new breweries a platform to share their beers. I’ve purchased tickets for my staff and myself to attend as punters and enjoy the event without the responsibility of running a stand. I’m looking forward to trying new beers I’ve never tried and talking ‘beer’ with others who are as excited about it as I am.

See you at Beervana!

Big Bang Double IPA

August 6th, 2017 Posted by New Beer, Uncategorized 7 comments


Was there a lost civilisation before a cataclysmic event that resulted in the great deluge? Did the surviving few transfer their knowledge in plain sight to the geometry of the megalithic structures positioned around the planet? Are we a species with collective amnesia? Have we always had the answer?

About the beer:
ABV: 8.9%
IBU: 70


About the beer:
When making a big beer like this, it takes some pretty big ideas that challenge the mind as well as the tongue. Luke has been reading a lot of work by author Graham Hancock, famous for the book Magicians of the Gods. The copy on the side of the bottle is a gesture to Graham’s writing and the magnitude and gravity of his work.

Massive amounts of both English and German Pale malts and big banging NZ and US grown hops. A beer with a name like Big Bang you know is going to deliver some pretty serious hop aroma, and hop flavour. Best drunk from a Spiegelau IPA glass to maximize the hop intensity.

The hop aroma is like the Milky Way laid out across the dark evening sky in all its awesomeness. The taste on the palate is not heavy, but like a flash of light from the start of existence, so bright and all encompassing, you will be left in awe.

This is the first beer since Hop Zombie that Luke has suggested that the amount of hops in it may have some impact on the mind beyond just the effect of the 8.9% abv.

Launch: 10 August at Moon Bar, Wellington
Launch into the wild: 14 August

🇳🇿NZL: 14 August 2017
🇦🇺AUS: Late September 2017