and a record seventeen entries competed to win over an expert panel of judges and a bar packed full of hop aficionados.

It definitely was busy. [1] When I arrived at 6pm and made my way even more slowly than usual through the bar, seemingly every second person teased me that there was absolutely no way my traditional seat on the north western corner of table L4 would be available. However, thanks to the miracle of Twitter, I knew they were all wrong.

Mr Mike Conroy, noted proof reader of this blog and now my nominee for New Zealand Beer Drinker of the Year, secured my beloved imbibing spot at around 3:30pm and vigorously defended it from potential usurpers for several hours before I took my rightful place. [2] The first beer I ordered was an Epic Hop Zombie which was vaguely surprising because it was not previously entered in the contest and the Impish Brewer had crossed his heart and double pinky sweared that the absolute last keg of Zombie was consumed some weeks ago. [3]

At 9pm on that frantic Friday night, Colin stood on the bar and announced the winners of the 2012 West Coast IPA Challenge. The three judges, Blenheim’s favourite son Geoff Griggs, flat cap fashionista Kieran Haslett-Moore and former beer blogger Martin Craig [4], had tried all seventeen beers and rendered their judgement earlier in the day. 

In third place was one of many ‘spoonings’ from Yeastie Boys and Liberty Brewing.  Here, it was the Liberty Brewing Yakima Raven (6.5%) Second place was taken by Tuatara Double Trouble IIPA (9%). For those readers unable to access this fine limited edition beer it can be accurately replicated by taking several vines of ripe Cascade hops and repeatedly hitting yourself in the palate with them.  In other words, it is delicious.

The overall winner was the latest batch of Epic Hop Zombie which is not only a firestorm of hoppy goodness but now has super cool glow in the dark labels. In a later press release, brewer Luke Nicholas explained that they had found the necessary specialty hops in a “sleepy corner of the UK” and had them air freighted to New Zealand in order to concoct the latest batch. [5]

There was also the hotly contested People’s Choice Award which was determined by votes from the drinking public.  This accolade was secured by the Garage Project Super Angry Peaches Amarillo Bomb (10.1%). The rumoured write-in campaign for Heineken to win the People’s Choice Award either never eventuated or those votes were simply destroyed in a fit of rage by Colin the Handsome Yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor. [6]

My favoured tipple over the course of the evening was a blend of Hop Zombie and Super Angry Peaches.  However, many others favoured a beer cocktail of Hop Zombie, Super Angry Peaches and Epic Armageddon poured from the Hopinator over a bed of habarnero chilli. That concoction was known as the Angry Hot Zombie

The full list of entrants was:

Black Dog Unleashed IPA (Wellington) 5.5%
Brewery Britomart Nessie’s Conundrum (Auckland) 7%
Croucher Patriot Black IPA (Rotorua) 5.5%
Epic Hop Zombie (Auckland) 9%
Epic First Batch (Auckland) 6.6%
Garage Project Super Angry Peaches Amarillo Bomb (Wellington) 10.1%
Hallertau Bro’jolais (Auckland) 10%
Harrington’s Hop Tremor IPA (Christchurch) 7.4%
Invercargill Brewery Chopper (Invercargill) 7% (unfortunately not judged due to freight issues, but still pouring as we speak)
mike’s Single American IPA (Urenui) 6.7%
Moa Heptahop Seven Hopped APA (Blenheim) 7%
Townshend Blitzgreig APA (Upper Moutere) 6.7%
Tuatara Double Trouble IIPA (Wellington) 9%
Renaissance San Diego APA (Blenheim) 7%
Liberty Brewing Le Monstre (Spotswood) 7%
Yeastie Boys Motueka Raven (Wellington/Inververcargill) 6.5%
Liberty Brewing Yakima Raven (Spotswood) 6.5%

Limited supplies of some of these beers remain on tap. The West Coast IPA Challenge is always one of my absolute favourite beer events and this year’s edition raised the bar even higher – despite the unwelcome outbreak of Black IPAs. 

Finally, mike’s Organic Brewery called their IPA the Single American.  As well as being a topical reference to Tom Cruise, it also reminded me of a recent article on Kayfabe News titled “Donald Trump questions whether Hulk Hogan is a Real American”. It reads:

“Undeterred by a failed attempt to prove that President Barack Obama was born outside the United States, celebrity tycoon Donald Trump has turned his sights on Hulk Hogan.  “I want to see Hogan’s long-form birth certificate,” Trump said during a press conference.  “I have reason to believe he is not a real American.”  Although Trump has refused to divulge a shred of evidence for his assertion, thousands of so-called “birthers” have demanded an investigation into Hogan’s true citizenship.

Hogan has dismissed the accusations as “ridiculous, brother,” and issued the following statement through his lawyer:  “Well, you hurt my friends, Mr. Trump, and you hurt my pride.  I’ve got to be a man — I can’t let it slide.  I am a real American.”

Any 122-word news parody which combines my twin loves of American politics and professional wrestling will always rate highly with me.

[1] It is rumoured that the Challenge is a bigger night for Malthouse than the “Rugby” Sevens.

[2] My obsession with sitting at that particular spot has been scientifically measured as 9.3 on the Doctor Sheldon Cooper Scale.

[3] Mainly by me.

[4] Mr Craig took over as the token non-bearded judge because I was off at the 100% New Zealand Ham and Bacon Contest.

[5] Statistically, Epic’s press release used more exclamation points than the average teenage girl tweeting about Justin Bieber.

[6] This is also exactly what happened to the disputed ballot papers in Florida during the 2004 US Presidential election.


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