The air guitar is the signature musical instrument of Luke Nicholas, Head Brewer at the Epic Brewing Company of Auckland.  He is almost as well-known for his virtual solos and impassioned lip-synching as he is for his persistent and heavy-handed use of hops – and he is really quite famous for that. 

Many know Luke as the “Impish Brewer,” * a moniker coined on this humble blog which has caught on in the exact way that calling Eden Park “The Garden of Eden” has not.  In fact, 22 of the top 23 Google searches for ‘Impish Brewer’ are stories about Mr Nicholas.   This blog initially linked to a picture of a dancing imp which got so many hits we actually crashed some poor clip art site.  That same imp now adorns most Epic bottles, if you look closely enough.

A great deal has been written and said about Luke Nicholas, much of it by Luke himself through his prodigious use of blogging, Twitter, Facebook, podcasts and YouTube.  However, here is something I did not know until researching this post: Luke Nicholas is a case study for the Careers Service website.  It’s true – his case study appears under the “Be Your Own Boss” section and, while it is a couple of years old, there is this cool quotation from Luke:

“I bought Epic beer off them [Cock and Bull] and now produce my beer in the same brewery where they still produce their stuff, and contract back to them.  It’s a very small operation, but it’s a good option for me – I can focus on what I’m doing while still being my own boss.  Plus, I don’t have to worry about the day-to-day running of the brewery.”

On Wednesday 15 December 2010, the air guitars will reach a crescendo and there will be the most black t-shirts on Courtenay Place since AC/DC were last here.  The occasion is the first ever “Epic Tap Takeover – 8 Epic flavours on tap at one time in one location.”

The Impish Brewer will be in full effect celebrating not just Christmas but also the unofficial 5th Birthday of Epic Brewing Company ** and the official tap release of the Epic /Dogfish Head collaboration brew Portamarillo.***  Luke is also promising some “epic” announcements regarding his brewery in 2011.  He has guaranteed that “this will be the single most Epic event this year.”

The tap list includes:

Epic Lager – “Literally bursting with hop-fuelled taste.”
Epic Pale Ale – “many brewers would call that ‘insane’.  We call it flavour.”
Epic Mayhem – “This isn’t your ordinary beer de jour.”
Epic Armageddon – “Zymurgical big bang”
Epic Thornbridge Stout – “A silky, decadent yet hoppy stout.”
Epic Barrel Armageddon IPA – Armageddon which was aged in barrels.
Epic Barrel Stout – Stout which was aged in Barrel Armageddon barrels.
Epic Dogfish Head Portamarillo – “A collaboration, a festive brew and the world’s first tree tomato beer.  A sorta-Porter fermented with New Zealand grown Tamarillos, which were smoked using wood chips from the sacred Pohutakawa tree (also known as the Kiwi Christmas tree).”

There will also be “a few bottles of 2007 Porter, and a small sample of Impropriety – the very rare distilled Epic Pale Ale.” **** There is one final special treat but by reading this final footnote you automatically agree to the terms and conditions that you are not Colin Mallon, the Handsome yet Softly-Spoken Scottish Proprietor, nor will you tell Colin Mallon the Handsome yet Softly-Spoken Scottish Proprietor about the said announcement. *****

The doors open at noon on Wednesday 15 December 2010.  It should be – what is the word I am looking for – Epic!

* Imps are small yet mischievous beings
** His announcement is littered with footnotes which seem to have suddenly very fashionable in beer writing circles.  He noted “unofficial as it was the date of first bottling but didn’t actually officially start selling commercially till the 1st May 2006”
*** As already seen by many in the US on the Discovery Channel series Brew Masters.  The New Zealand screen date is yet to be announced
**** Just because he could really
***** The first fifty people in get free air guitar rental for the evening.  Luke is always happy to provide free replacement strings for any air guitar, not just the ones he routinely gives away.


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine


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