Malthouse adopts a Number 8 Wired mentality
Thursday, 01 June 2017 10:14

8 Wired Brewery has been on the Kiwi craft beer scene so long (since October 2009) that I have almost figured out whether it is spelled 8 Wired or 8Wired.

Eventually, I decided to be conservative [1] and go with the spelling on their (now rather flash) website. Call me old-fashioned, but companies generally know their own name.

 Similarly, I have known founder and brewer Soren Erikson so long that I even occasionally type his name correctly without the help of spell check. Sadly, I still cannot get the proper accents and other linguistic symbols over his magnificent Danish moniker. Sorry my friend.

 In many ways the growth and development of 8 Wired reflects a number of the key changes in New Zealand brewing in the last decade. It all started out with the matrimonial gift of a classic Cooper’s homebrew kit which ended up making terrible beers in Perth, [2] moved to seriously good homebrewing in New Zealand, then Soren’s first commercial brewing experience at Blenheim’s Renaissance Brewery.

 The big step was when Renaissance agreed to hire Soren their tanks and equipment when they were available. As a result, 8 Wired began as a very part-time contract brewery literally at Soren’s day job. He describes the offer from Renaissance as “generous” and I whole-heartedly agree.

 At this point, events moved quickly with 8 Wired picking up the highest award in New Zealand beer – Champion Brewery 2011. This was an incredible achievement for a new and small brewery, but the intensity of the audience applause demonstrated the respect that the industry had and still has for Soren and his beers.

 Such a victory naturally spikes demand – despite what some of the nay-sayers may claim about the impact of beer awards on sales. Over the next five years, 8 Wired contract brewed at four breweries (including the award-winning Steam in Auckland) before opening their own standalone brewery in Warkworth which is apparently north of Auckland. Reports have reached me that it is very clean and very pretty – just like the brewer.

 In this new site they make and package all the 8 Wired beers, including an extensive range of sour and barrel aged brews. They even make a cucumber beer just to annoy me... but you can never stay mad at Soren for more than a minute. Congratulations to him and his small (but growing) team for their success.

 To celebrate, Malthouse is putting seven 8 Wired beers on tap from 9 June 2017 (next Friday), including some of the most new and/or innovative ones. Here is the beer list and my comments:

 8 Wired Rewired (5.7%) – This is the relaunch of their popular modern brown ale. Now, I have previously described this style as a beer for “cloth capped whippet lovers,” While I remain proud to have written those words, I was probably a bit harsh on the beer. It is wonderfully balanced with notes of caramel, toast crusts and slightly fruity hops. Welcome back – I doff my cloth cap to you. [3]

 8 Wired Hippy Berliner (4%) - Soren describes 8 Wired Hippy Berliner, a hoppy sour beer, as “not very traditional because it is dry hopped with Amarillo, Simcoe, Citra and Riwaka hops. However, I wanted to keep the bitterness low so the beer is obviously tart but not super sour. To me, it tastes a lot like grapefruit juice, but not as sour or as sweet.” They also make a version which is racked onto sliced cucumber. I really feel this is to test if a brewer can make my head literally explode in anger.

 8 Wired Hopwired (7.3%) – I have been a fan of this beer for a long, long time yet I have not managed to better my March 2016 description:

If you are unaware that I’m a huge fan of 8 Wired Hopwired IPA then, quite frankly, you have not been paying attention. At around 70 IBUs, it is a deceptively drinkable celebration of Kiwi hops (Southern Cross, Motueka and Nelson Sauvin) with a solid malt base supporting a veritable pyramid of hoppy goodness (grapefruit, resin, pine, passionfruit and fruit salad). I believe the technical term is “omnomnom.”

The rarely seen fresh hopped version is a creature of extreme beauty.

 8 Wired Tropidelic (5%) – I actually talked to Soren about this (then) new beer for the same article last year. I like this beer, just not as much as Hopwired but then I like very few beers as much as Hopwired. It is flavoursome and (a bit) more responsible. Here are my notes:

“While Soren insists that 8 Wired Tropidelic is “not made to be a small Hopwired” he concedes “it kind of is if you look at the recipe.” He explains both beers “use the same hops but not the same proportions. Tropidelic leans towards big Motueka and Riwaka hops. The result is a nice drinking New Zealand pale ale. I’ve tried to keep bitterness lower and it is much lighter in colour and palate sweetness.””

 It is a fine rugby watching beer.

 8 Wired Flat White (5.5%) – This is a coffee stout brewed with (perhaps unsurprisingly) coffee, vanilla beans and lactose. At Malty this silky decadent brew will be served on nitro which helps highlight the dark flavours and plump up the already full body.

 8 Wired West Island (6.7%) – I can only presume this new IPA contains large amounts of Australian hops as the “West Island” is New Zealand’s (sometimes affectionate) nickname for our much larger neighbour across the Tasman Sea, Australia. Flavours mentioned in reviews support this theory with orange, apricot and fresh tropical fruit prominent. [4] This one would definitely be on my list.

 8 Wired Farmhouse Ale (5%) – Farmhouse is a sour, yeasty and earthy brew often compared to a Saison. It seems to pop up seasonally and is highly coveted by those who enjoy the style. There are a lot of them! Here are the brewer’s notes:

 “It’s brewed with a big portion of Spelt malt as well as raw wheat and oats. For the hops, we have tried to keep the bitterness right down while maintaining a big US hop presence. So hops (Chinook and Cascade) have only been added to the whirlpool and as dry hops. The yeast is a new dry Belgian yeast...”

Next time, we drink to welcome the British and Irish Lions rugby team who have just touched down. As a Lions supporter, the only advice I can give you is:

1) Play better than the last tour here, please!

2) Do not get over-confident just because you beat Australia.

3) Don’t hurt Beauden Barrett.

4) Please select some Scottish players in the tests.

5) Behave better in pubs than your predecessors - most New Zealanders do secretly like you. [5]

[1] No surprises there...

 [2] Apparently temperature control and hygiene are important, particularly in the heat of Western Australia...

 [3] I actually do not own a cloth cap or a whippet. However, I do support the Greyhounds as Pets charity and suggest everyone else does too. (The link is below.)

 [4] One RateBeer reviewer identified an aroma of “gym clothes.” Not sure how I feel about the human equivalent of a “sweaty horse blanket” nose...

 [5] That said, wearing my Lions shirt and a Scottish flag, I was challenged to more fights during and after the last Lions test in Wellington than I have been at decades of live sports watching combined. And this was after New Zealand won!


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine


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