Posts tagged " hops "

My Little Hop Garden 2017

October 2nd, 2017 Posted by Hops, Uncategorized No Comment yet

6 October 2017

And they’re off!

3 October 2017

Look what’s back!

CRYONMAN – Simply The Vest!

October 1st, 2017 Posted by New Beer, Uncategorized No Comment yet

When two greats come together, inevitably you end up with something even greater. 

Malt and hops.

Pizza and beer.

Bacon and eggs.

Peas and corn.

Ninjas and Turtles.

David Cryer and Luke Nicholas.

The beer that we’ll be launching for the 2017 Brewers Guild Beer Awards is the super-charged tasty brain-child of two legends of New Zealand’s craft beer industry. I had the pleasure of interviewing David Cryer of Cryermalt and Luke about this beer to get an idea of what we can expect from this beer –  the result of a union of expertise and passion for things that taste AWESOME.

DAVID CRYER, THE MARQUIS OF MALT

Can you tell me about the history of Epic and Cryermalt working together?
I met Luke when he first started at Steam back in 1997. He quickly became
head brewer at Steam where he developed the EPIC Pale Ale. We were supplying malt to Steam at the time and then continued to supply Epic when it separated away.

How long have you guys been wanting to create a beer together?
The first time in 1999 I travelled with Luke to Phoenix for the Craft Brewers Conference, we shared a room during this trip and this is when Luke got to experience my love for comic books. I used to keep sneaking out of the room to comic book shops to bring them back and had a huge long box in the room – just full of comics I had purchased for my collection.

This will be a first edition beer to go towards my comic beer collection

What’s the significance of the ingredients that you have brought to the brew? Can you tell me a bit about the product (malts vs hops)?
Low Colour Maris Otter with the low Kilning profile will allow the new hop variety Luke has sourced to show its qualities in the best possible light. Maris Otter has been around since 1966 as a variety which is probably a record in terms of a variety being available and the fact it is innovating in 2017 testifies to the strength of this king of malt varieties.

What flavours will these products bring to the beer?
Maris Otter has been a signature malt flavour that has contributed to Epic’s flavour profile for many years now. Using the Low Colour Maris Otter for the first time the lower kilning profile the renowned malty biscuity flavour of Maris Otter will be in the background blending in with the hops.
The lower kilning will mean less colour contribution from the malt which will lead to a lower colour finish in the beer and create an attractive hue to the final product.

What does the name “CRYONMAN” mean?
The meaning behind Cryonman is one for Luke to answer. I was not present during the naming!*

If you could have a superpower, apart from the ones you already have, what would it be?
Superpower – ability to change water into beer (or is that too blasphemous?)!
Not so much a superpower, but the ability to build a super suit that gets me to a meeting with Robert
Downy Jnr and also to all the brewing/beer events. But let me not forget I would be wearing an iron
VEST!

LUKE NICHOLAS, THE KING OF HOPS

Can you tell me about the history of Epic and Cryermalt working together?
When I started as assistant brewer at the Cock & Bull they were buying Aussie and some UK malt from Cryer Malt. Over the years I have brewed with any malt I can get my hands on to see how it performs, and if it makes my beer taste better. It just so happens the Cryer Malt provides a range of some of the best malts available from around the world. Therefore I have been buying malt from David for the last 20 years. Starting 1997.

How long have you guys been wanting to create a beer together?
We have talked off and on for a few years about making a beer together, as we like to joke Cryer Malt has been collaborating with Epic for years. There have been times where our forecasts have fallen short or times where Cryer Malt have sold out of malts that we use, and we have been forced to substitute one malt for another. Sometimes when we have to make malt changes, it works out to make the beer even better. So we thought with the release of this new malt we could work on something together which we actually plan.

What’s the significance of the ingredients that you have brought to the brew? Can you tell me a bit about the product (malts vs hops)?
Malt: light colour, like pilsner malt, but will have that wonderful Maris Otter ale malt character
Hops: aggressively resinous, green, punchy. The malt will be the perfect light canvas to highlight these hops.

What flavours will these products bring to the beer?
The Low Colour Maris Otter, will bring a colour like a lager or a pilsner but will have that luscious delicious English Ale malt character, which will set up the beer to showcase this new mega-hop from Yakima. HBC 682 is still part of the trial program but brewers that have brewed with it are raving about it. While In Yakima recently I was talking with the growers and they are all really excited about it as it is a great hop to grow and pick, giving wonderful yields as well as chart-topping alpha acids.

Out of the box, HBC682 smells like having your head too close to the baling machine and it accidentally getting compressed and baled. There’s a huge resiny intenseness.

What does the name “CRYONMAN” mean?
CRYONMAN is a play on Cryer Malt and David’s love of comics. That one time we roomed together in Phoenix AZ, for CBC 1999, David spent all his spare time buying comics.

How did you enjoy coming up with the name CRYONMAN?
We got together with the team from Cryer Malt, had a BBQ, a few beers and a bit of a brainstorming session. You are always more creative after a couple of beers. We felt that the core of this beer was the malt, and we wanted to highlight something special, yet for many unknown about David, which was his love of comics.

If you could have a superpower, apart from the ones you already have, what would it be?
Hmmm… To turn any beer into an IPA, maybe? Or at least to be able to miraculously give a beer more hops, ’cause we all NEED… MORE… HOPS… right?

*Author’s note: David was present at the start of the beer naming process. He soon discovered that coming up with the name of a beer with Luke is quite an arduous process. David wisely left it up to the experts. The reason for David’s departure may have been captured in this tweet:

Ed’s Top Five Hops

September 5th, 2017 Posted by Hops, Uncategorized 3 comments

If you haven’t already figured out, hops are a really important part of what we do at Epic. We love the flavours that hops give beer, and we put a lot of effort in selecting the right types of hops, as well as how we use them. Luke will be heading to Yakima soon to select our hops from the 2017 US Hop Harvest. Here’s a fun fact for you: Epic has used more aroma hops than any other brewery in NZ in the last ten years.

I had a chat with Ed Jefferies, Epic Production Manager, on the subject of hops. If we had the time, Ed could have talked about hops all day, but this would distract her from her (extremely important) job of making sure that our beers are produced. I don’t want to be held responsible for that, so I decided that I’d narrow the discussion down to her ‘Five Favourite Hops’.

 This is what she had to say about them.


Ed’s Top Five Hops

5. Amarillo
This is a tasty hop that gives beers a subtle but tasty flavour of stonefruit. If you’ve tried our Awakening Pils, the flavour of apricots and peaches sits perfectly with the crisp and refreshing bite from the bittering Chinook hops. 

4. Columbus
If you tried Rocket IPA from the Hysteria Series, you’ll know all about the huge ‘diesel’ hit that this hop gives (this description doesn’t really do it justice). Columbus also gives a subtle pepper aroma along with a slight liquorice flavour. This hop is powerful, resinous and offers a well-balanced bitterness. Like me, it doesn’t do subtle.

3. Nelson Sauvin
This beer drove our Dankomatic IPA back in 2016. This is such a big hop – the quintessential New Zealand aroma hop. It’s a great hop to use to balance out some of the huge US hops with a bit of homegrown flavour. This dank, resinous and grassy hop has featured in recent beers such as Big Bang Double IPA and Son of Thor IPA.

2. Citra
Citra is one of our most commonly used hops. As its name suggests, it offers a beer citrus-driven aromas and flavours, such as grapefruit, lime and even a bit of passionfruit.  The Citra hops really come through in Hysteria IPA where you get that awesome bitter kick, but the syrupy citrus aromatics drive it home.

1. Mosaic
Ah, Mosaic… I can’t stress how much I really, REALLY, love this hop. The beauty with Mosaic is that it can be blended with so many different hop styles and you can achieve very different results with each blend – it’s appropriately named, right?! This multi-dimensional hop has driven some of our most popular beers ever: One Trick Pony – Mosaic, plus the recent release, Magic Dust – which coincidently was our fastest selling beer ever. For Magic Dust IPA, we used Mosaic LupuLN2®, or Lupulin Powder, thus the name.


So, next time you enjoy an Epic beer, know that there’s been a lot of thought into how it has been made, what hops should be used to deliver the flavours that we love.

 

Celebrating 20 Years of Brewing

January 15th, 2017 Posted by New Beer, Uncategorized 1 comment

Did you know that the 17th of January marks the 20th Anniversary of Luke’s brewing career? To celebrate, we’ll be launching St Luke Milestone Ale.

A career spanning 20 years, highlighted by a continuous stream of trophies from three of New Zealand’s most influential beers.

Monk’s Habit, Epic Pale Ale and Epic Armageddon IPA.

3x Supreme Champion Beer of NZ, 30 Best in Class trophies. Brewer of the year. New Zealand’s best beer. Brewers Guild of NZ Honorary Member.

An Honour and privilege to be part of the development and growth of NZ craft beer industry.

This beer takes my favourite parts of each of these three beers to make this one special batch.

About the beer:
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.0%
IBU: 55
Hops: US Cascade, Columbus & Mosaic
Malts: UK Pale Ale & Crystal
Serving: Keg & 500ml bottles
Launching at the Epic 2017 Boat Party, followed by The Lumsden Freehouse, Vultures Lane, The Brewers Co-operative, Malthouse and Brew on Friday (20 January) night.

PRESS RELEASE

Forget about old St Nicholas, it’s time for St Luke.

While Christmas is done and dusted for another year, the New Year promises a gift of its own with the upcoming release of a beer named in honour of St Luke, the patron saint of brewers.

The beer is designed by Luke Nicholas of Epic Brewing to mark the 20th anniversary of his first day as a brewer: January 17, 1997, when he started at now defunct Cock & Bull as an assistant to Ben Middlemiss.

The beer Nicholas has created pays tribute to a trinity of multi-award winning beers that have defined his career and which have helped revolutionise the industry in New Zealand: Monk’s Habit, Epic Pale Ale and Epic Armageddon IPA.

Monk’s Habit is regarded fondly by Kiwi beer aficionados. It briefly started life as a Belgian-style beer along the lines of Chimay Blue.

But when Nicholas took over as head brewer at the Cock & Bull he changed the recipe to an American-style hoppy ale inspired by Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale.

Monk’s Habit – a rich, hoppy beer that benefited from eight weeks of dry-hopping – a went on to win the Supreme Champion award at the inaugural New Zealand International Beer Awards in 1999. Two years later, it was again named New Zealand’s Supreme Champion.

With the sale of the Cock & Bull chain a few years ago, it has gone out of existence.

When Nicholas started Epic, it didn’t take long for Epic Pale to also be named Supreme Champion at NZIBA in 2006, while Epic Armageddon is the most-awarded beer in the history of the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards which replaced NZIBA in 2007.

In his 20 years, Nicholas has picked up around 30 best in class trophies. He has also been named New Zealand’s brewer of the year and was bestowed honorary membership by the Brewers Guild for his outstanding service to the industry.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to be part of the development and growth of the New Zealand craft beer industry,” Nicholas says.

“To celebrate those two decades, I’ve created a beer that takes my favourite parts of Monk’s Habit, Epic Pale and Epic Armageddon to make this one special batch.

“I really enjoy the malt character from Monk’s Habit and I love the Cascade hops in Epic Pale Ale – I’ve used more Cascade than anyone in this country – and then I’ve brought in a couple of secret hops from Armageddon that really make that beer special.”

St Luke promises to be a revelation – by Michael Donaldson

I was raised in a devout Catholic family … walking away from it all when I turned 18, much to my mother’s distress, was one of the harder things I’d done at that short point in my life. After all, the church’s modus operandi is to drill into you the fact you’re hell-bound unless you keep up those rituals.

But a lot of the doctrine has stayed with me – including the names of many patron saints and the people, occupations or countries they advocate for. Most prominent in our house was St Jude, patron saint of lost causes – my mother was always praying to him. Then there was St Christopher (travellers), Francis of Assisi (animals) and our Lady of Loreto (aviators – my dad was a pilot).

But I was never told there were patrons saints of brewing. There’s at least five of them which just proves what a noble calling it is to make beer.

St Augustine I can understand – he being something of a wild drunk before his conversion; and St Arnold was a Belgian monk and brewer who saved his local parish during an epidemic by encouraging them to drink beer rather than infected water. There are others who claim the mantle of being a patron of brewers but most notable among them is St Luke, the same fellow who wrote one of the four gospels.

It’s thought St Luke takes on brewery because he was a physician, and, you know, beer is healthy. Right?

Next week, a beer bearing the name of St Luke hits the shelves and it promises to be something of a revelation.

The beer has been created by Luke Nicholas of Epic Brewing to celebrate his 20 years of brewing. The release date is January 17, commemorating the day in 1997 when Nicholas started his first paying gig as an assistant brewer at the gone, but not forgotten, Cock & Bull chain.

And the beer brings together three of the revolutionary beers Nicholas is best known for: Monk’s Habit, Epic Pale Ale, and Epic Armageddon IPA.

Quite how Nicholas will bring together three beers into something of a holy trinity remains to seen, or tasted.

Kiwi beer aficionados get a little misty-eyed when they talk about Monk’s Habit. It briefly started life as Belgian strong ale in the style of Chimay Blue but when Nicholas took over as head brewer at the Cock & Bull he changed the recipe to an American-style hoppy ale inspired by Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale. That version of Monk’s Habit was twice named New Zealand’s supreme champion beer (1999, 2001), an honour that also went to Epic Pale Ale in 2006, while Armageddon remains New Zealand’s most awarded beer.

Nicholas says St Luke will have some of the malt character from Monk’s Habit, the citrus and rosewater character of the US Cascade hops used in Epic Pale Ale and some of the “secret” hops from Armageddon.

No matter how it comes together, it’s sure to be tasty. That’s the gospel truth.

Changing Times

While Armageddon and Pale Ale are still the flagship beers in the Epic stable, Nicholas has been getting adventurous lately. First, there was the Stone Hammer series which delivered slightly sweeter styles (or at least perceived to be sweeter thanks to the avalanche of late hopping).

And his next off-beat project is a series of IPAs based around tweaking the Armageddon recipe. The Hysteria series is named for a Def Leppard album, and the first beer was Gods Of War, the title of a track off that album. So watch out for Rocket, Run Riot, Animal, Excitable and Pour Some Sugar On Me.

While the range will explore what can be done when you tweak a multi-award-winning recipe, Nicholas is committed to doing everything he can to get flavour out of hops, malt and yeast rather than play with adjuncts to create flavour. It’s a simplicity he thinks will come back into fashion when punters get tired of various fruits and spices in their beer.

“When I think back to 20 years ago when I started, it was all about making real beers … as opposed to, I won’t call it chemical beer because that was such a dumb term, but beers made with processing aids and post-fermentation additives; industrial beers. Craft beer was about making it with malts, hops, yeast and water.

“Then people started adding stuff like grapefruit and chili … I don’t know if that’s sustainable or if it will last longer than a generation because it becomes too gimmicky and people won’t want to keep drinking a mango-chili-pineapple IPA … yeah, it’s nice but I don’t want to drink it all the time.

“All those people looking for the next new thing and writing notes … and I know what it’s like because I went through that phase myself … they will a reach place when they will ask themselves: ‘hang on why do I do I drink beer?’. Yes, it’s the taste and the flavour but more importantly it’s the social factor.

“You drink beer with your mates … beer has always been a social lubricant, it hasn’t been about ticking boxes and trying the next one. It’s fallen out of balance and it has to come back. Yes, you can enjoy the beer but the point is not to sit there all night and pull apart your pint to work out the malt and hops … talk about that for a couple of sips but not for the whole pint.

“The point of beer is to bring us together to have a conversation and have some fun.”

Nicholas can see a new wave of beer that “comes back to simplicity – not quite reinheitsbegot [German purity law] but beer made with the four basic ingredients.”

As for Nicholas himself? Nothing’s going to change: “I love IPA and I love hops. I want to be remembered for making IPAs. Good IPAs. And I want to keep that message simple and clear – Epic is a one trick pony but you know what the message is.”

Build Our Hops a Home!

November 21st, 2016 Posted by Hops, Uncategorized No Comment yet

I’m sure you’ve been closely following the progress of #MyLittleHopGarden, so you’ll know that our precious little (but growing out of control) hop plants need a proper home, with the support structure that they need.

How would you like to build us a hop support frame?

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What we need:
In an ideal world, we would love to turn the soil and plant our hops. The reality is that our Onehunga ‘soil’ mostly comprises of gravel, rusty nuts and bolts and probably an impressive array of chemicals. Our hops are staying in their pots.

Here is what we’d need if we had the “Ideal World” location (image from a brilliant article from YCH Hops on how to grow hops at home – check it out).
trellis

  • We need a frame wide and tall enough to support our hop plants
  • We’ll need to be able to move the frame

If you’d like to design and build our hop support in exchange for a fun day with us plus payment in beer, email your ideas and details through to hopgarden@epicbeer.com.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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.