Posts by luke

Epic Hop Zombie Wins NZ Food Awards

October 12th, 2017 Posted by Awards, Uncategorized No Comment yet

Epic Hop Zombie has won the Countdown Alcoholic Beverages Award at the New Zealand Food Awards 2017.

The New Zealand Food Awards are a highlight on the industry calendar and showcase the best of the best amongst New Zealand’s food and beverage industry.

Winning products earn the New Zealand Food Awards “Quality Mark” to highlight the superiority of their products to both shoppers and industry, plus achieving national and international recognition.

On winning the award, Epic Brewing Company owner Luke Nicholas said “it is fantastic to get industry recognition beyond just the beer and brewing industry. Hop Zombie has been such a huge success for us since it was launched as New Zealand’s first double IPA back in 2011”

Nicholas says “demand for Hop Zombie grows year on year. With its cult following it took four years to be able to secure enough hops to be able to keep up with demand and supply it all year round, and then to start looking at export markets”.

This latest accolade for Epic Hop Zombie joins a list remarkable acknowledgments for the beer in the last year.

In China, it was ranked #8 best craft beer in China, with Epic Lupulingus IIPA at #10.

Hop Zombie has become Epic Brewing Company’s most successful export, with it being the number one beer exported to China, which is Epic’s largest export market.

In the USA Epic Hop Zombie was ranked #10 in the top 10 imported beers in the US in Zymurgy magazine.

Epic Hop Zombie is a Double IPA at 8.5% alc/vol which is a strong version of an IPA. It uses NZ and US grown hop varieties and a blend of English and German grown pale malts. This combination of malts and hops produce a beer with a pale golden colour, a huge tropical fruit aroma, with passionfruit, mango and citrus flavours.

Epic Hop Zombie has recently been ranged nationwide at Countdown supermarkets.

US Hop Harvest 2016 – What actually happens.

September 6th, 2016 Posted by Hops, News, Uncategorized 1 comment

One question I was asked recently is what do you do while you are in Yakima during hop harvest?

The short answer is I visit hop farms and meet with the hop growers and select my hops for the year.

This year I am visiting the following hop farms, from which I selected some of my varieties from last year’s harvest.

Van Horn FarmsColumbus

Black Star Farms – Mosaic

C&C FarmsCentennial

Perrault Farms – to visit the hop breeding plot.

What does a hop farm visit entail?

It is a chance to meet up with the hop farmer and have a walk amongst the bines to see how they are looking, have a chat about how things are going for the current harvest and how the weather and growing season has gone. We’ll discuss what this means for yields and quality of this seasons hops. It is also a chance to ask about what the future holds; What varieties will be planted out next season, what varieties might be reduced.

Luke in the hopsAfter a walk through the hops and rubbing and smelling them, I’ll go through the processing plant where you get to see the harvested bines arriving. The bines are hooked up and run through the pickers that strip off all the delicate hop flowers. The flowers are separated from the leaves and stalks and conveyed to the drying room. The drying room receives the hops onto a big bed with a false floor that hot air is pushed up through. After 6-8 hours, the hops are dried then moved on to get baled up. The bales are all checked for temperature and moisture (if bales contain too much moisture, things can get ugly – fire ugly) then the bales are loaded onto trucks.

Hop Bales On TruckThe truck with hop bales are delivered to YCH Hops. After being checked and stored a brewers cut will be taken from the lot that has arrived from the farm.

After the farm visits there will be an afternoon of hop selection where several lots for each variety are presented. The samples are taken from the bales; The brewers cuts. After ranking and selecting the lot I want, its time for a beer.

Since hop harvest only runs for a few weeks of the year, you can guarantee you will bump into many brewers while you are in the area. It is always fun to have a beer with the other like minded brewers who have travelled to this special spot on the planet to oversee the harvesting of the magical flowers that gift our beery creations with their aromatic essence.

It is a fun time, meeting growers, seeing the hops, bumping into brewing friends, and having a couple pints. I look forward to going each year. Can’t wait to get there again soon.

Here’s some footage from Luke’s previous US hop harvest trips.

Epic + Hops = First, Best, Most, Only, Greatest and Supreme.

August 30th, 2016 Posted by Hops, News, Uncategorized 1 comment

Luke in the hopsWhen people think about beer from Epic, the first thing that jumps to mind is big hoppy beers. They would be right as we not only brew with massive amounts of hops, but also visit the hop fields and know the hop farmers to get the best hops in the world. Not many brewers in New Zealand do this locally, and none visit the hop farmers on a yearly basis in the US.

Here are some fun facts as to why HOPS = EPIC BEER.

Epic Brewing Company used the MOST AROMA HOPS in the last 10 years, more than any other brewery in New Zealand.

Epic Brewing Company is the LARGEST IMPORTER of US hops to New Zealand over the last 10 years.

Epic Pale Ale was the FIRST American style Pale Ale to be released in New Zealand in 2006.

Epic Pale Ale won SUPREME CHAMPION beer at the 2006 NZ beer Awards on the eve of its official release.

This beer changed the face of craft beer in New Zealand.

Epic Pale Ale is made with US grown Cascade hops, the NUMBER ONE aroma hop in the world.

Best IPA 2016Epic Armageddon IPA is the MOST awarded IPA in New Zealand read this.

Epic Armageddon IPA was the FIRST commercially bottled American style IPA brewed in New Zealand.

Epic Hop Zombie was the FIRST Double IPA released in New Zealand.

The ONLY New Zealand brewer to visit Yakima every year for hop harvest and visit the hop farmers.

When I started out brewing, it was obvious that I was never going to be the BIGGEST, but I could strive to be THE BEST. To be the best, it was logical to use the best ingredients I could find for the best beer you want to make. Sometimes you have to search the whole globe to find the best. Best ale malt from England, best Pilsner malt from Germany, best hops for American IPA’s from Yakima.

Many people have asked me why I don’t use all New Zealand hops and all New Zealand malts. For some people this is hard to hear, but sometimes those New Zealand ingredients aren’t the best for the styles of beer I like to make. Other times they are the best for the flavours I want, but not every time.

I love the aromas and flavours that come from the hops grown in the Yakima valley. I love brewing with these hops, and love the beers that these hops make. This is why I make such an effort each year to fly to the other side of the Pacific Ocean, to find the best of what they have, and bring it back home to New Zealand to brew with.

Guess what? It isn’t just me that gets the joy of drinking the beers I brew with these gloriously aromatic hops. You to can buy these beers. It’s a beautiful thing.

US Hop Harvest 2016 – The Countdown Starts Now

August 24th, 2016 Posted by Hops, News, Uncategorized No Comment yet

It is that time of the year again, and I am finalizing plans and counting down days to my trip to Yakima, USA. I am visiting because it is the time of the year that they harvest the hops.

Yakima is where the majority of hops are grown in the USA. Every year since 2012 I have traveled to Yakima at hop harvest time, to visit hop farms, and meet hop growers, but mostly to have the opportunity (which is the ultimate privilege) to be able to select the hop I want. This will be my fifth consecutive season at hop harvest in Yakima.

luke smelling hopsWhat does hop selection mean? It is that I am presented with several lots of hops (of approximately similar sizes, depending on variety and the quantity I have contract for that variety). I am presented with 6 to 8 different samples from potentially the same number of farms. I take these hops and rub them in my hands to heat up the hop oils and the smell the aromas they produce. I compare them all, making notes, and then rank them, and select my favourite.

Why do I think US grown hops are good? It probably goes back to my formative days of drinking craft beer (early 1990’s). When I first discovered it, and tasted flavours I had never had before in beer. Since that time and that beer(s) was in the US and used US grown hops to flavour it, I have always been drawn to these characters as favourites. Beer is so situational.

I first imported hops from Hopunion in 1997 and have been travelling to the US every year since, sometimes twice a year. Therefore much of my inspiration and influence has come from the West Coast of the USA when it comes to beer styles, beer flavours, hop varieties, and hopping rates.

Luke Hops Are FoodYes, I like hops. You could say I am obsessed with hops. I want to find out as much as I can about hops and the hops I brew with. I want to meet the people that grow the hops I buy. I want to see the plant the my hops come from and where those plants grow. Since these hops are grown in Yakima I need to hop on a plane and travel 7000 miles to get what I want, to make the best beer I can. So far this has seemed to have paid off.

The Epic Snow Mission

July 6th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Snow is cool. Beer is awesome.


Four Of A Kind – Epic Armageddon’s Winning Hand

April 11th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet
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. (more…)

The beer that started a revolution

March 29th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet
pale-aleIf there was one day when New Zealand’s rich beer history changed direction forever it was April 29, 2006. That was the day Epic Pale Ale was named supreme champion at the New Zealand International Beer Awards. As Epic owner-brewer Luke Nicholas celebrates the 10th anniversary of a career-defining night in Nelson he reflects on the changing trend in the beer market that has brought consumers full circle and back to a beer that started a revolution. (more…)

Brooklyn & Thunder – Two New EPIC Beers

February 18th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 1 comment

Brooklyn OTB lineupThis week you should start seeing two new Epic beers arriving at your usual craft beer outlets. Epic Brooklyn OTP (One Trick Pony) is the next in a series of single hopped IPA’s. The Brooklyn hop is a brand new release from NZ Hops, and was made commercially available in December 2015, with Epic being the first brewery to place and order and brew with it. One Trick Pony beers all use the same recipe, and just replace the hop. The Brooklyn hop, as all the others before it (Zythos, Mosaic, Comet & Equinox) is added in three additions to the kettle, one addition in the whirlpool, and two dry hop additions. (more…)

Epic Armageddon IPA amazing hat trick of trophy wins

October 13th, 2015 Posted by Uncategorized 1 comment

Armageddon Best IPAThe stuff of fantasy” to quote Michael Donaldson. And he would be right. I am some what lost for words (which some would say is rare), and not sure how to comprehend what it means to win BEST IPA at three different beer competitions, in three different countries (and with three different batches of Armageddon IPA).

In the last six months Armageddon IPA was judged against nearly 400 IPA entries from over 35 countries.

What are the chances of this beer winning the BEST IPA three times?

An interesting quote from the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) “American-Style India Pale Ale was once again the most difficult category, with less than a 1% chance of winning a medal ” – 336 IPA entries from US only breweries.

The competitions also reflect Epic Brewing Company’s three largest markets. (more…)


November 19th, 2014 Posted by New Beer, Uncategorized No Comment yet
IMP-PosterEpic IMP, has just been released in time for the coming summer holiday season. Brewed as a session IPA, it is SMALL (4.7% alc/vol) and MISCHIEVOUS (generously dry hopped like an IPA. It has more dry hop than the Epic Armageddon IPA). When poured the aroma hits you with sweet ripe summer stone fruit and citrus as you look at its brilliantly polished pale copper colour. The flavour is of fruity citrus peel intertwined with a juicy caramel note, which finishes with a sharp but brief slap of bitterness. It drinks as though it’s much bigger than a responsible 4.7%, due to the malty body and the vibrant hop intensity. Epic beers have continuously grown in flavour, intensity and alcohol volume since exploding on the beer market in 2006, with the Supreme Champion trophy winner, Epic Pale Ale 5.4% (recent winner of Best in Class Pale Ale 2014 New World Awards). (more…)

buzz and hum – Epic IMP review

November 16th, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

I just read this positive review about the new Epic IMP on the blog “buzz and hum”. You should not only check out the other posts on this blog, but follow it to, as the reviews are thoughtful and a good read. I still need to finish writing something official for the release of this beer. This last week has been consumed by Taste of Auckland (which hasn’t gone so well due to the weather). 2014-11-14 18.11.59Quickly, the beer is a Session IPA, 4.7% alc/vol, 35 IBU. Dry hopping is greater than Armageddon IPA. It was officially released on Friday night at Vultures Lane to a jam-packed bar. It was announced that the first keg was the fastest selling keg they have ever had. (I’m sure they tell all the brewers that right? 😉 Hops used – Comet, Centennial, Columbus and Simcoe. What does IMP stand for? So make sure you head to the blog “buzz and hum” and read some of the other cool posts.  

Epic ‘Imp’

epic-imp-buzz-hum Session beers have certainly become ‘a thing’. Indeed, in the year since professional wrestling connoisseur, incorrigible Tory and future Beer Writer of the Year Neil Miller predicted that “balance and sessionability could well be the new black” the supermarket shelves and craft beer taps of Wellington have seen appearances from an increasing number of sub-5% abv flavoursome beers. The first push came last summer with a number of hoppy golden ales making their mark, and since then lower-alcohol yet fragrantly hopped session IPAs and pale ales have surged onto the market – often in four or six packs, making them great accompaniments for the upcoming summer of barbecues. And, into that fray surges Luke Nicholas of Epic Brewing Company. Being the brewer who broke open New Zealand taste buds with his highly-hopped, high-alcohol ‘Armageddon IPA’, ‘Mayhem’, and the infamous ‘Hop Zombie’, one wouldn’t necessarily have expected he’d feel the need to play in the session IPA field that’s been populated by the likes of Liberty’s ‘Oh Brother’ or Panhead’s ‘Quickchange’. Yet into the field he’s charged, with the ‘Imp’ session IPA. As the tagline on the bottle says, “careful what you wish for”. And, with the Imp, Luke Nicholas has, to use the vernacular, “nailed it.” The Imp pours a gorgeous burnished bronze colour; clear and sparkling, catching the light adorably. From the top of the glass lifts a invigorating aroma of grapefruit and creamy peach, underlined with a sweet toffee scent. With the first sip I’m struck by how “soft” it feels; gentle and full, before the carbonation releases wonderfully in the mouth leaving a fizzy, full and creamy sensation. Imp is a very fruity flavoured beer; the hops playing superbly off the gentle malt to provide a rounded, balanced, sweet and easy-drinking mouthful. Flavours of sweet lemon curd and mature stone fruit predominate at first, but a warm, bitter sensation floods the mouth as I swallow, leaving a lingering, lip-smacking grapefruit flavour. Very fruity, very tasty. And all that beautifully balanced fruity sweetness, lingering bitterness and easy-drinking joy comes it at a very sessionable 4.7%! “Small and Mischievous”, as it says on the label, “causing trouble, but in a playful way”. Now, that could be about the beer or about Luke ‘The Beer Imp’ Nicholas himself. But, either way, it’s an apt description. Fun to drink, fun to be around, won’t necessarily get you in trouble. Maybe. Imp’s not quite a perfect as a session beer, however. While the flavours and sensations of the beer itself are excellent, at the moment I’ve only found this beer (with its eye-catching peacock-blue label) in 500ml bottles, and at a moderately high price point. This is a beer I’d love to see in four- or six-packs of 330ml bottles (like Epic’s Lager or Pale Ale); that’d really put this beer into place as one of my go-to sessionable beers for a summer afternoon. But, in the meantime, it’s good to see Epic giving the lower alcohol, highly-flavoured IPA a go. Even better to see the end result being so delicious. More, please!   **(If we get good feedback and sales from this first batch then we will make more and seriously consider putting this beer in 330ml bottles) IMP Poster


Return of the Epic Hop Zombie

July 13th, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 2 comments

Hop Zombie was arguably New Zealand’s most successful craft beer release of 2011. With its invasion, Epic continued to push the hop envelope.

Ravaging hordes of craft beer drinkers scoured the shelves of every bottle they could find, hunting them down via word of mouth and social media in what one could only compare to preparation for a coming apocalypse.

Unfortunately, the supply of top secret special hops for this highly aromatic beer were exhausted – not only at the brewery but on the whole planet!!

No one had any. Not only had the hops run out, but the next year’s crop had also been fully pre-sold. No Hop Zombie until 2013!!! Noooo!!!

The guys at Epic Brewing Company just couldn’t accept this. They spent months scouring the earth, trying to find these highly desirable and aromatic hops. A small amount of the elusive hop, grown in Washington state in the USA, was found hiding in a sleepy corner of the UK. They were quickly air freighted (don’t tell the bean-counters) to NZ to brew another batch of palate infecting Hop Zombie.

Yes, the rumors are true, Hop Zombie is back!

Keep a lookout for Epic Hop Zombie arriving on shelves in local stores in the coming weeks. They’ll be easier to spot at night with their new glow-in-the-dark labels.

Epic Apocalypse Black IPA

June 15th, 2014 Posted by New Beer No Comment yet

epic-bottle_apocalypseEpic Apocalypse Black IPA will start rolling out this week in bottle.

So why a Black IPA? When this style started becoming popular in the USA I become fascinated by the style, which at the time was being referred to as a Cascadian Dark Ale (named after the Cascade mountain range, which also gave its name to the hop, because the beer style was being made in Oregon.)

In 2009 we started bottling Armageddon IPA. The same year, Apocalypse was brewed for the first time.

The key behind making a Black IPA is to keep all the hop aroma and flavour of an IPA and just get the black colour. Well my first attempt left me a little disappointed, as beyond the wonderful fruity hop notes there was a dominant liquorice character from the roast malts I had used. It was very much like a liquorice allsort, which was kind of cool, but wasn’t what I was looking for.

After five years of dwelling on this experience, and the style, arguing whether it should be called a Cascadian Dark Ale, a Black IPA (Black and Pale in the name, really?), or an India Black Ale.

Tasting as many different brewers BIPA’s, and talking to brewers about how they achieved their black colour but minimal taste, I was finally confident to give it another shot.

I am totally thrilled with how the Epic Apocalypse Black IPA has turned out. I hope you are too.

It has been touted as Epic Armageddon’s black brother, but I have used slightly different hops for this version of an IPA. Amarillo, Simcoe, Citra and Chinook. Don’t ask me why, I just felt that the flavours of these hops together would work well in this beer.

You will notice that the hop aroma is pretty significant, and this follows into the flavour, where it marries with a hint of roasty malt notes, and finishes clean, bitter and an after taste of hops. The bottled version of this beer is 6.8%abv which is higher than the keg only version which was 6.0%abv. The reason for trying this out is when people drink at the pub they generally like to have a couple of beers. Beers that are too high in alcohol tend to make it harder for them to drink responsibly. But on the flip side people that buy a bottle to take home (or get it delivered) can enjoy the extra flavour of bigger beers in the safety of their home. 😉

Hopefully you enjoy the beer. I’d love to hear what you think about it. (The blue and green stripe is inspired by the flag of Cascadia)

New Zealand’s Hoppiest Brew

May 26th, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

How many hops can you fit into a bottle of beer? Does fifty seem like too many? Most of the beer produced in New Zealand today uses the equivalent of less than one hop per bottle. Auckland’s Epic Brewing Company have done exactly the opposite and utilised this intensely perfumed flower to the greatest of their ability. Epic, founded by Luke Nicholas in 2006, is known for its big hoppy beers, especially their Epic Pale Ale and the boldly hopped Epic Armageddon IPA. They’ve now taken hoppiness to a whole new level with their new double IPA, the Hop Zombie.

Double IPAs originated on the American West Coast, where the innovative breweries pushed the limits of the IPA and created a whole new style. At the centre of this tweaking was adding more hops – a lot more hops. Brewers use hops for flavour and aroma, with different hop varieties giving many different flavours, from resiny pine to floral citrus. With this in mind, Epic’s Luke Nicholas and Kelly Ryan decided to develop New Zealand’s hoppiest ever beer.

Kelly, former Brewery Manager of highly acclaimed and awarded Thornbridge Brewery in the UK says, ‘Hops are the equivalent of the herbs and spices used in cooking. Some recipes demand subtlety and balance, others are all about intensity of flavour. Double IPAs are the beer equivalent of Thai and Indian foods – while taking taste to its extremes, they’re also quite balanced.’

With all this in mind, Luke and Kelly used four different hops, two from New Zealand and two from the United States, chosen for their intensity and ability to deliver a soft bitterness, even at high levels of use. The beer is relatively high alcohol, at 8.5% ABV, which provides some sweetness to help balance the hop bitterness. They also used a combination of premium British and German malts, giving Hop Zombie a generous amount of body to aid with balance in the mouth.

The Hop Zombie has huge tropical fruit characters on the nose, mango, guava, and a hint of ripe raspberry, which continue in the mouth, with a rich sweetness and mouth-coating hop character and bitterness. With a meal, Hop Zombie is a great replacement for a sticky desert wine. Full of flavour and easily matched to full-flavoured washed rind or blue cheeses, Zombie would also match something acidic and sharp as well – a well-matured cheddar, for instance. Or, it’s great on its own, while you let the massive flavours wash over you.


March 13th, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

An Epic beer label generally has inside jokes, references to popular culture and memes (we like to have fun, be a bit silly, but clever at the same time. Tasting notes aren’t always that valuable, as it is so subjective, and you can find plenty of peoples thoughts about taste online on beer rating websites.)

** EPIC MOSAIC IPA **FRONT OF LABEL “One Trick Pony” was a comment made by Phil Cook, Beer Writer of the Year 2012 in a blog post about the fact Epic only brews hoppy beers.“One Trick Pony” was appropriate for this beer (Zythos at the time) as Epic was releasing another IPA, which give the range two IPA’s at the time, so the coining of this tagline was now perfect.It has now become a series of single hopped beers. The recipe stays the same, with just the hop varieties are changed. Hence you are able to taste Zythos and Mosaic side by side and focus specifically on the hop varieties, like wine.Mosaic is a brand new hop variety, released from the 2012 US Hop Harvest (we had to go on a waiting list to be able to get an allocation at harvest time). The first beer Zythos was at 6.0% abv, Mosaic is 6.1% abv, next time it will be 6.2% abv. Unicorn in the shield – a unicorn is a horse of course, so theres the pony connection. Sparkles on the label – to create a kind of Mosaic effect using new technology. Epic was first to use it. (follows the trend of using the latest technology in label production, i.e. Glow in the dark Hop Zombie label). SIDE PANEL & TEXT “… the blue pill” – reference to the movie The Matrix. “… kick-ass facial horn” – see Narwhal Song on Youtube. “… neutralize the poison” – “Unicorn horn has the power to render poisoned water potable and to heal sickness.” – Wikipedia. “… no virgins needed to tame” – Unicorns could only be captured by a virgin – Wikipedia. “Alicorn” – the substance a Unicorn horn is made of. THE SYMBOLS Many of the bottles have symbols on them, with references to varying things. The little cat (felix the cat?) looking thing is actually an “Imp”, a term given to brewer Luke Nicholas by beer writer Neil Miller (as a term of endearment?) as he is refers to Luke as a small and mischievous brewer. Double hop flowers, from a Hop Lovers Unite website/facebook page. Unicorn, pretty straight forward. Three dots and two lines? Well we can’t tell you everything.

Epic Zythos IPA

January 20th, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Blog Post by Neil Miller from The Malthouse Blog

In 450BC, noted toga-wearer Sophocles philosophised that the best diet for the Greeks was bread, meats, various vegetables and beer (the last of which they called Zythos). I would not be unhappy living on such fare as, to me at least, it sounds like endless ploughman’s lunches, ham sandwiches and barbeque roast boar platters, all washed down with ale.

Although the Greeks invented Pythagorean Theorem, the Hippocratic Oath and the modern concept of drama, they most certainly did not create beer. Zythos is the Greek version of a very old Egyptian word for beer. [1] I am not nearly so keen on the ancient recipe as was apparently one-third barley, one-third safflower seed and one-third salt. Described as both beer and medicine, I fear the consequences of any drink which is both a laxative and an anti-diarrhoeal.

However, Zythos is also a new type of American hop. [2] It is not technically a new hop variety but a new hop blend designed specifically by Hopunion to smell and taste a lot like the high-end hops which are currently in short supply. Here is what the people who invented Zythos had to say:

“Hopunion announced earlier this summer, the creation of Zythos ─ a proprietary hop blend created to embody the powerful tradition and aroma you expect for your finest ales and IPA brews… Zythos is an IPA style blend created to optimize and exceed the aroma characteristics you require. Zythos is not a replacement for proprietary varieties, but rather, a premium pellet blend that will compliment your current IPA and Pale Ale brews.”

Luke Nicholas of Epic Brewing Company quickly heard about the new hop blend. [3] To be honest, Hopunion probably could have hooked him with a press release which simply said “We have sexy new American hops. You should make a beer using lots of these sexy new American hops.”

As it transpired, he did. Epic Zythos IPA is a 6.0% India Pale Ale described by the brewer as having a “richer copper colour compared to the Epic Pale Ale. A wonderful hoppy aroma of citrus and pine, and a juicy malt flavour, with medium bitterness.”

As an ever-diligent beer journalist, I wanted more information than was included on Wikipedia or the bottle label, [4] so I gave Luke a call and asked him about the inspiration behind the beer. He said:

“I really wanted to see what the new hop tasted like so that I would know how to use it in the future. I basically filled this new beer up with Zythos and let it loose on the world. There are no other hops in there. I was originally going to call it a Single Hop IPA but of course it is not. Zythos is a blended hop – not that anyone really knows what that means. This beer is filling a need for me to know more about the hops – it’s really an educational beer.”

There is a rumour Luke was wearing a toga throughout the entire interview. He strenuously denies this. I know I was.

Luke has made a full batch of Zythos and has plans to continue through to the end of the year – possibly three or four more batches. Demand is high with the first batch virtually sold out even before its official launch at Brew on Quay on Thursday. He had planned a series of launches (as is his wont) but Easter and his trip to America got in the way.

The good news is that Malthouse has secured no less than seven kegs of this beer. It is scheduled to go on tap early next week but keep an eye on the Facebook page and the @malthousetaps Twitter account for exact details. Like most new Epic beers, it will not hang around for long.

Along with many of New Zealand’s beer-erati, Luke will be attending the World Beer Cup and Craft Brewers Conference in America shortly. Afterwards, he will be heading up to Chico in Northern California to attend the fabled Sierra Nevada Beer Camp. As a result, he will doubtless return home with tonnes of new ideas to try out. He also has threatened to text me when he is enjoying some yummy fresh Hoptimum on tap at Sierra Nevada. [5]

On the topic of American beer, in an announcement that would have headlined this blog on most other weeks, Malthouse has two kegs of the legendary Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. Thisoutrageous hopbomb is a huge step up from the (very good) 60 Minute IPA and should be a treat on tap sometime next week. Be careful though – it is a surreptitious 9% ABV.

[1] We are talking Third Tractate of the Babylonian Talmud old.

[2] It is also a moth and a beer festival.

[3] Luke is rumoured to have three permanent email alerts set up for news on the internet: “American Hops”, “Epic Beer” and “The Impish Brewer.”

[4] There is a significant overlap between the two but there are some new icons hidden on the Zythos label and one new in-joke with a beer blogger.

[5] Luke is promising not to tweet about every new beer he drinks in America after a backlash during previous events from people whose entire Twitter feeds were constantly being taken over by his ever expanding lists of beers.

Cheers Neil Miller Beer Writer Real Beer New Zealand Beer and Brewer Magazine

Epic Beer 2011 Top 10

December 31st, 2011 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

At the end of each year I do a quick sum up of the top 10 things Epic Brewing Company has done over the previous 12 months. 1. Kelly Ryan What an amazing addition to the Epic team. Not only has Kelly expanded the knowledge base, and abilities of Epic, but it has been amazing fun to brew with him, create new beers with him, as well as travel around the country and do beer launches, over the last year. 2. Hop Zombie We pushed the envelope again. Hop Zombie – New Zealand’s Hoppiest Beer. What an unbelievable beer, initially brewed for ourselves to drink, and given a funny name, it has become an incredible overnight success. Unfortunately there are a couple of hop varieties we use from the US which we are unable to secure supply for till the 2012 harvest, which means we are unlikely to have another batch out before January 2013 🙁 (It even gave rise to a new Tshirt, which is now highly sought after.) 3. AS SEEN ON TV In 2011 finally we saw the episode from Discovery Channel – “Brew Masters” series – on the making of the Portamarillo with Dogfish Head, which screened on TV’s around the globe . Also Epic was featured on TV3’s – What’s Really In Our Food – Beer episode 4. NZ Craft Beer TV Kelly and I took to the road in a campervan and visited most of the brewers in New Zealand. 17 days on the road we travelled 4500kms, tasted 222 beers and visited 44 breweries. Getting all of this on film we ultimately work with each brewery to come up with a beer (Mash Up) that represented the taste of craft beer in NZ in 2011. 5. Best IPA in New Zealand Best IPA in New Zealand for the 3rd year in a row – Epic Armageddon IPA. Winning Gold and Best in Class trophy at the New Zealand Beer Awards 2011. 6. Flying Nun 30 Year Ale What an honour! In the tradition of brewing a beer for their significant anniversaries, the iconic independent record label Flying Nun asked us to make a special brew to celebrate their 30th anniversary. The beer was available during the month of “Nunvember” around the country and at the special gigs held around the country – 30 gigs in 30 days. 7. Champion Media Brew – Beervana The origination of the much loved Coffee & Fig Stout was at our ePICO brewery. Brewed for the Beervana Media Brew Challenge with Victoria Wells, editor of DISH magazine. We brewed 20 litres of what was originally called Collision. We liked it so much (and after winning the award) we brewed 5000 litres, bottled it in 750ml wine style bottles under the “Epicurean” label and released it just in time for Christmas. 8. Twitter Reaches 10,000 Followers We stared 2011 with 7300 followers and ended with over 10400. As the first brewery in the world to use Twitter (March 2007) I still today use it as EpicBeer’s first means of communicating to the world. If you want to see the latest pictures, what we are brewing, drinking, and thinking, than follow us here to be first to know. 9. NZ’s Best Value Beer – Epic Pale Ale Epic Pale Ale – NZ’s Best Value Beer Joel MacFarlane of Brew Nation, come up with a formula to work out what quality of beer you got for what price. It was kind of scientific but ended up showing that for the price you can’t bet Epic Pale Ale for the quality and flavour in the bottle (actually 4 pack) 10. Four Horsemen Collaboration Four Horsemen of the Hopocalyse – what an amazing collaboration with four of the most hop driven brewers in New Zealand. Joseph Wood from Liberty Brewing, Steve Plowman from Hallertau, Kelly Ryan and myself from Epic. Could you add anymore hops to one beer? So looking back at 2011, we created some fantastic new beers, won some more top awards, and did a couple rock star style beer launches (for Hop Zombie and LARGER) across New Zealand & Australia. Not sure how we are going to top 2011, but we have a few ideas up our sleeves. Thank you for your wonderful support during the year, and look forward to having a beer with you in 2012. Happy New Year Luke Nicholas Epic Brewing Company

What Awards Has Epic Pale Ale Won?

March 4th, 2008 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Awards won to date for Epic Pale Ale 2008 Metro Magazine – Feature “Best of Auckland” Epic Pale Ale – Best Beer 2007 NZ Listener Magazine – Feature “Best of New Zealand” Epic Pale Ale – Best Beer Australian International Beer Awards 2007 Silver Silver BrewNZ 2007 Silver – Pale Ale 2006 New Zealand International Beer Awards 2006 Supreme Champion Beer – Trophy Best in Class – Pale Ale – Trophy Gold Medal – Pale Ale Australian International Beer Awards 2006 Silver Medal Silver Medal BrewNZ 2006 Best in Class – Pale Ale Gold Medal – Pale Ale Copies of Awards

15 different hops per bottle?

February 27th, 2008 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

No. Many people make this mistake on there first reading of the back label of the bottle. It is actually one single hop variety used in the brewing of Epic Pale Ale – US grown Cascade. The back label says “…In fact there are 15 crammed into this bottle.” I knew I was using alot of hops to make Epic Pale Ale so I thought it should be celebrated on the label. I had to work out some measure that people could possibly understand. I contacted our hop supplier Hopunion, and ask how we could work this out. We came up with a formula and worked out it was 15.4 hops per bottle. Wanting under promise and over deliver we rounded it down to 15 for the label. Cheers Luke

What fruits do you add to Epic Pale Ale?

February 19th, 2008 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Yes the aroma of Epic is very fruit driven with people getting citrus, grapefruit, rose petals, turkish delight and apricots. But there is nothing other than malt, hops, yeast and water used in the making of Epic to give it the aroma and flavour it has. The intensity is the significant amount of hops we add to the beer throughout the process. And I mean alot, like 3000% more than the average beer. So the answer is no fruits are added, just shed-loads of hops.

Where is Epic Pale Ale brewed?

January 27th, 2008 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Epic Pale Ale is brewed at Steam Brewing Company, 186 James Fletcher Drive, Otahuhu, Auckland, New Zealand. Steam Brewing Company started in October 1995 and was the brewery operation behind the original Cock & Bull brewpub. As the company grew and more pubs opened a larger brewery was purchased (previously Auckland Breweries). The capacity was large and the idea of creating a stand alone bottled beer brand separate from the Cock & Bull beers was proposed by me in late 2004. 2005 was the brand creation and recipe development year, and an official launch in 2006 after the winning of Supreme Champion Beer. October 2007 I purchased the Epic brand from Steam Brewing Company and we have a manufacturing agreement to continue production of Epic at Steam.

Is Epic Pale Ale vegan?

January 14th, 2008 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Yes. Epic Pale Ale is vegan as there is no animal products used in the brewing of the beer. No fining agents such as isinglass, gelatin, or egg whites are used. Epic Pale Ale is cold conditioned for 4 weeks at -1.5C which helps with clarity and stability. It is then filtered for final clarity.

What hops are used in Epic Pale Ale?

January 14th, 2008 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Epic Pale Ale uses just one hop variety – US Cascade. These Cascade hops are grown in the Yakima Valley in Washington State, USA. Cascade – Very successful and well-established American aroma hop developed by Oregon State University’s breeding program in 1956 from Fuggle and Serebrianker (a Russian variety), but not released for cultivation until 1972. Piney, citrusy, and quite assertive.(Alpha acid: 4.5–6.0% / beta acid: 5.0–7.0% )

MORE – New Epic Outlets

December 6th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Here is the latest outlets that now have Epic Pale Ale – Rotorua New World – in store tasting Friday & Saturday – Warkworth Super Liquor – Warkworth New World – Keri Keri New World – Highway Liquor Orewa – The Merchant of Tirau and – Caro’s – Metro Best Wine Shop Metro Best Beer is also available at these Metro Best – Victoria Park New World – Metro Best Supermarket – Mea Culpa – Metro Best Cocktail – Farro Fresh – Metro Best Gourmet Food Emporium – Galbraith’s Alehouse* – Metro Best Pub (*The last pre-release Epic Lager keg is all but sold out, you might still get a taste if you are there for Friday drinks)

Best of Auckland – METRO – Best Beer is Epic Pale Ale

November 26th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Combing the city in search of the best things it has to offer has become the magazine’s own seasonal tradition. We rate this year’s comprehensive list of deserving winners in 115 different categories as our best “Best of” yet. Best Beer: Epic Pale Ale

Metro – Best Beer – EPIC

November 26th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Here is a scan from Metro Magazine about the Best Beer in Auckland – Epic Pale Ale

Epic @ Galbraith’s

November 23rd, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Epic Lager will be on tap next week at Galbraith’s Alehouse. This week after delivery it was found the beer line from the keg to the bar had been cut off and used for something else. Don’t worry they’ll get around to hooking up some new tubing, maybe on Monday or Tuesday. If you do go along for an Epic Lager and it isn’t flowing yet, you can always be assured that the Epic Pale Ale is on offer.

NZ brewer going it alone

November 14th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

One of New Zealand’s top beer brewers is going it alone. Multi-award winner Luke Nicholas has bought the Epic Brewing Company and with it the Epic brand, from his now former employer the Steam Brewing Company. Nicholas is planning to take Epic worldwide, after it won best in class at last year’s BrewNZ International Beer Awards. It also claimed a silver medal this year, behind another of his beers, Monk’s Habit, a Steam Brewing Company product. Epic Mayhem was awarded bronze. Nicholas says he will be taking Epic to the world in measured steps. The first is the launch of Epic Lager in February next year. Full Story Newstalk ZB NZ Herald

New Epic Outlets (with maps)

November 13th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized 2 comments

Here is an update of recent outlets that have started stocking Epic Pale Ale. See Google map of Epic Pale Ale outlets Auckland: Galbraith’s Alehouse La Barrique Whitianga: Golddiggers Tirau: The Merchant of Tirau Wellington: (see Google Map of Wellington outlets of Epic Pale Ale) New World Metro New World Thordon Centre City Wines & Spirits D4 (opening this week – Epic Pale Ale – ON TAP)

Pre-Release Epic Lager

October 31st, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Today I’m delivering two kegs of pre-release Epic Lager to Hallertau. This is the first time it will be available for sale in Auckland. It has been available for a number of weeks in Wellington. On Tap at the Malthouse On Fill Your Own at Regional Wines & Spirits If and when you have tried it, please give me some feedback. Any feedback will contribute to the final tweaks before formulating the final recipe.

Regional Wines APA and IPA tasting

October 30th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Last week Regional Wines & Spirits held an APA and IPA tasting run by Geoff Griggs. Out of the New Zealand beers tasted Epic Pale Ale was ranked the highest (votes) Epic Pale Ale (25) Founders Fair Maiden (16) Tuatara IPA (9) Renaissance Discovery APA (3)

Beer from the Motherland

October 26th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Epic Pale Ale 5.4%ABV The first APA up and it’s the star of recent NZ beer history. Full of American hops and finding its way into chillers that have never seen a craft beer in there lives its big its brash and you’ll never again be hopless. Pours a pale gold with a sustained white head. Aroma features a complex mix of lychees, a touch of gooseberry, an un defined tropical fruit note, tropic Just Juice? . On the palate there is lots of tropical fruit, a slight salty note, some sweet malt a slightly hollow finish that seems to be neither bitter nor sweet. Fantastic aroma, a little unbalanced on the palate. from Beer from the Motherland – by Kieran Haslett-Moore Full Story

Epic @ Headspace 07

October 9th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Epic Pale Ale was the exclusive beer sponsor at the Headspace 07 launch party (Thursday 04 October 2007). Great night and even made it into the social pages for Herald on Sunday. Photos see George FM About Headspace 07 Headspace 07 Website

Best Of 2007 – Epic Mayhem

October 9th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Best Of 2007 by Neil Miller for Salient “Best beers of 2007 Epic Mayhem – looks good, tastes great but I’d better have another just to be sure.” Full Story  

Epic finalist at BeST Design Awards

September 28th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

The BeST Design Awards are a national award programme of the Designers Institute of New Zealand, recognising New Zealand’s best graphic, product and spatial design. October 5 2007 – BeST Design Awards Ceremony, Dinner and After Party, Aotea Centre at THE EDGE Full Details – Epic Pale Ale

September 27th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Latest Review of Epic Pale Ale on kempicus (42), Wellington, New Zealand Date: Sep 14, 2007 Overall 18/20 Gotta say when i first read about this beer i thought…yeah yeah another brewer talking up the usual weasel piss they produce….wow was i wrong! I love it when things live up to the hype! Great beer, loads of flavour…malt, hops the lot with a great nose.

Epic has become currency

September 20th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

A case of Epic beer to the first person… I’ll buy a case of Epic beer to the first person* that can solve my networking problem at home, (special conditions apply of course). Full Story

Epic gets some LIPS action

September 5th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Epic Pale Ale features on the front page of the LIPS – Liquor Information Pricing Search website. Epic Pale Ale – Hop Fuelled Taste Supreme Champion award winner, from a local craft brewery in Auckland. Each bottle is packed full of US grown Cascade hops, 3000% more hops than your average beer. Epic has the aroma & flavour intensity that you would expect from wine. Available in 6 x 330ml pack at 5.4% abv.

Face for Radio – Epic Afternoon

September 4th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Epic makes an unexpected appearance on the Face of Radio by Radio Active from Wellington. Cheers Radio Active.

The Best of New Zealand – Epic Pale Ale – Best Beer

July 31st, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

We have so much to be proud of in New Zealand, but you might be forgiven sometimes for thinking that our main pastoral industry was tall-poppy lopping. So here, with a wide-ranging but by no means exhaustive list, the Listener happily celebrates the best of New Zealand – and invites you, the reader, to celebrate, too, with your own contributions. The full text of this article appears in the NZ Listener (August 4-10 2007), on sale now. The full text will be available online on Aug 25, 2007.

iPhone meets Epic Pale Ale

July 13th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Last night (only 13 days after the release of the iPhone) Epic Pale Ale got to have its first encounter with an iPhone, and in Auckland, New Zealand of all places (that’s 10,530km from San Francisco), and it was working, though only on Wi-Fi (sim card removed). The iPhone was at the Auckland Web Meetup and everyone was very excited to check it out, while drinking an Epic Pale Ale. Epic likes iPhone Thanks for the pic Mike

Epic Diggnation Episode

June 12th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Diggnation Episode 101

Epic Pale Ale guest stars on Diggnation

June 11th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

This weeks episode 101 of Diggnation features Kevin & Alex drinking Epic Pale Ale. I had all but given up on the six pack I sent them back in March cause they had been drinking wine (who knows why) on the show and given up mostly on drinking the beers people were sending them. You can see the original Digg post I made here. So here we have it Epic Pale Ale on Diggnation. Thanks to the pilot David and my brother Flynn for getting the six pack to the Digg offices. You can listen to the podcast here Or watch the video podcast here (when it is uploaded) Cheers Luke

Tabac gets Epic Pale Ale – TONIGHT

June 8th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Tonight at 5.30pm we are giving the customers of Tabac a taste of Epic. Tabac Reviewed Tabac – Wikipedia

Epic Tasting Gets Blogged Live

June 1st, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Had a fun tasting at Netconcepts on Friday afternoon. Epic achieved another first with a blog posting being made during the tasting. Live blogging during tasting. Cheers Mike. Look forward to the Meetup on the 14th

Mea Culpa Wins Outstanding Bar

May 30th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Congratulations to our friends at Mea Culpa for winning the The Gilmours Outstanding Bar award at the recent Lewisham Foundation Awards This award now adds to Simon Gorman winning Bartender of the Year last year. Head down and celebrated with them with the award winning Epic Pale Ale. View Zoomin Map

Epic Wins More Awards In Australia

May 4th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Epic Brewing Company was awarded more medals at the recent 2007 Australia International Beer Awards, held in Melbourne. Epic Pale Ale – SILVER Epic Mayhem – SILVER Full List of Results

Believe the hype

May 2nd, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

I’M loving Epic Pale Ale at the moment. The label claims to be “Making the world a better place with beer”, and for once the advertising hype is true. This beer is all good. It’s got a lovely aroma, not strong, of dust and old citrus rind with all the sweetness removed. In the mouth there is a huge grapefruit character and bucket loads of hop power. Resin comes through as well, along with the grassy flavour you get from sucking on a grass stem on a summer’s day. The Supreme Champion in the 2006 NZ International Beer Awards, Epic is just bigger than the average beer, more fruit in a curiously dry way because the fruit is citrus. It’s too strong for delicate food, but a great match for flavoursome, salty meats and stews. I’m going to try this Auckland thriller with everything. Full Article – Capital Times by Aaron Watson

Epic Pale Ale – Latest Review from

April 29th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

mgbridges (1), England Apr 24, 2007 HOPS!!! The label on this beer promises them, and it delivers them by the bucketload. Oodles of bitterness but backed up by a fruity undercurrent. Very refreshing and cleansing. Would be interesting to try this with rich foods. Aroma: 8/10 Appearance: 4/5 Flavor: 10/10 Palate: 5/5 Overall: 17/20

Epic Pale Ale stocked in the 5th best bar in the world

April 26th, 2007 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

You can buy an Epic Pale Ale at the 5th best bar in the world, Matterhorn. “The Cuba St bar has just been named Bartender magazine’s fifth best bar in the world.” “The accolade follows hard on the heels of its rating as best New Zealand bar at the inaugural New Zealand Bar Awards.” “The bar is particularly popular with celebrity types and over the years has hosted some big names in entertainment, including Sir Ian McKellan, Gordon Ramsay, Jack Black, Orlando Bloom, Naomi Watts, Burt Reynolds and Liv Tyler.” Full Article – Herald on Sunday Map of Epic Outlets in Wellington