Friday, 3 August 2007

Beer O’Clock – Epic

The NZ Bar Awards judges got it wrong in judging Cuba St's Matterhorn the best bar in NZ; clearly those judges weren't buying their own drinks. That accolade rightfully belongs to Wellington's Malthouse on Courtenay Place, to which I was introduced last weekend by beer writer Neil Miller - that sage and often sober gentleman who brings your Beer O'Clock business on this still rather soggy Friday. It begins with a reminiscence . . .

My first beer column for PC's Free Radical magazine was headlined by a beer called Epic. As alert readers will recall, Epic won the Supreme Beer of New Zealand Award about a week after its initial release. This is how I described it in that colums:
Epic Pale Ale (5.4%) is a burnished golden beer which throws a punchy citrus nose. It has an immaculate balance of rich creamy malt body with lashings of summerfruit and citrus notes before a lingering, almost oily, bitterness dries the mouth.
Describing his brew, impish brewer Luke Nicholas said “We are confident that New Zealand beer drinkers will enjoy it just much as the judges.” It looks like he might well be right as Epic is becoming increasingly available in pubs and bottle stores around the country.

It is worth recalling another comment in that first Free Radical beer column when I wrote that Luke is
always prepared to tweak his recipes to “keep the drinkers thinking” and to always move the beer towards being the “perfect pint” – a beer that you totally enjoy all evening, pint after pint.
After many an evening and many a pint of total enjoyment (in a professional capacpity, you understand), Epic stands as a perfect example of Luke's promise. Luke has actively gathered feedback from drinkers of all ages (18+ of course), experiences and tastes about Epic. I have obtained a summary of that market research, which I can summarise as follows:
10%: Yuck - does not taste enough like Lion Red
40%: Delicious, but too hoppy to be properly sessionable
49.97%: Magnificent
Neil: Needs more hops!
From a drinker’s perspective, there have been some subtle changes to Epic to improve sessionability – it is slightly less resinous, a tad less bitter and a slightly lighter colour.

What remains is a magnificent beer full of flavour and which can stay out to play all night. That is why in the latest edition of The Listener I picked it as my “perfect pint” and as New Zealand’s best beer.

And so it is.

Cheers, Neil

Real men visit the Real Beer blog, and SOBA. And so should you.


  1. Epic is in my holy triumvirate of delicious beers to order in town, the other two being Little Creatures Pale Ale and Emerson's Bookbinder.

    Another fine review - cheers indeed...


  2. "...that sage and often sober gentleman"

    How often?? Not very in my experience! Mind you, you don't develop such good taste without practice.

  3. "From a drinker’s perspective, there have been some subtle changes to Epic to improve sessionability – it is slightly less resinous, a tad less bitter and a slightly lighter colour."

    Does that mean it's becoming more "Equilibrium" than "Epic"?


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