(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 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.  This outrageous 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.




Beer Writer

Real Beer New Zealand

Beer and Brewer Magazine



Epic Beer – www.epicbeer.com

Dogfish Head – www.dogfish.com

Malthouse Facebook – www.facebook.com/pages/Malthouse/7084276173

Malthouse Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/malthouse

Malthouse Taps on Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/MalthouseTaps

Neil Miller on Twitter – www.twitter.com/#beerlytweeting

Real Beer – www.realbeer.co.nz 

Beer and Brewer Magazine – www.beerandbrewer.com/