On Friday Malthouse is running a beer showcase which the hipper members of staff [2] have dubbed “Biggie Smalls” even though its official (square) name is “Bigger Brother, Little Brother Beer Showcase.” Basically, former Champion Brewery of New Zealand 8 Wired has produced new versions of some of their most famous beers.

For their higher alcohol beers they have made lower alcohol versions. For their mid-strength beers they have produced higher-octane versions. However, there are far more differences than simple alcohol content. What kind of differences I hear inquisitive readers ask? Well, I had absolutely no idea so I called brewer Soren Eriksen at his spacious new Auckland 8 Wired brewery to get the low down.

Asked about his inspiration for what has been dubbed by us cool kids as the “Biggie Smalls” range, Soren describes it as “a good question.” [3] He said “it just sort of happened. Semi Conductor was the first and most obvious one. It was planned when we first did Super Conductor IPA. Small Poppy is basically the same idea. Tall Poppy is a great beer but can be hard for pub owners to put on tap so we needed a smaller version.”

8 Wired Tall Poppy (7%) is an India Red Ale – a potentially made up style that I generally have little time for. However, I love this beer and rate it the most food match friendly brew in the entire land. It is the balance of this beer which makes it so memorable and versatile – caramel, oranges, earthy, creamy, bitterness, pine and maybe a suggestion of peach. Love it – love everything about it.

Soren describes 8 Wired Small Poppy (4.5%) as a “very hoppy session red ale”. While a lot of darker beers use oats for texture, he says Small Poppy utilises “a lot of oats – this amount is unusual. It boosts the weight a bit without adding body per se. It makes the beer fatter. I use Golden Naked Oats which are a delicious malt, kind of a crystal oat malt in a way.”

8 Wired I-Stout (10%) is a big beer even by Soren’s already high standards.

It is full bodied and surprisingly bitter with a profile of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, leather and potentially a snifter of bourbon. It smells like imperialism – in the very best possible way.

The brewer described 8 Wired India Session Stout (4%) to me as “a mix between a dry stout and a session IPA”. It is made from the second runnings of I-Stout with Soren noting “every time I’ve brewed I-Stout I have wanted to make a smaller version but this is actually the first time. It has a much lighter body and pretty aggressive hopping. India Session Stout is hopped pretty much like Semi Conductor.”

Soren created the “Wireless” range of 8 Wired beers so he could play around with Brettanomyces, a wild yeast strain he loves working with and believes is often misunderstood by beer novices and beer geeks alike. The base beer of the range is 8 Wired Wireless IPA (6.2%) which he described as a “classic West Coast IPA” made with lots of American hops, particularly Amarillo.

Will the beer is very fruity, Soren says there “is a bit of funk from the Brett – those classic characters of barnyard, horse and leather. By now the Brett should be even stronger but the beer should still be very fruity because of the particular yeast strain I use.” He has previously stated about this beer that “I hope it will funk up with some age.” [4]

The 8 Wired Wireless Black (6.2%) is his funktastic interpretation of a Black IPA. Soren says it is “very similar to the original Wireless with the same Brettanomyces but more chocolate notes from dark malts, and a different hop mix. Wireless is almost all American hops while Wireless Black is 50/50 of US and New Zealand hops.” It should retain the fruity yet yeasty character of the original but with an added dark dimension.

If you are unaware that I’m a huge fan of 8 Wired HopWired IPA (7.3%) 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.”

While Soren insists that 8 Wired Tropidelic (5%) 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.”

The launch of 8 Wired Super Conductor IIPA (8.8%) occurred at the Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge way back in 2011. Using 80% more hops than even HopWired it weighs in at a hefty 90 IBUs. I am sorry, I lost the power of movement there briefly.

As noted earlier, Soren always intended making a more moderate version of this rampaging hop titan. 8 Wired Semi Conductor Pale Ale (4.4%) is exactly half the strength of the big brother but has more than half the flavour. The result is a full bodied pale ale with notes of citrus peel, pine needles, hop resin and mango. This is the one time that it is acceptable to have a semi…

Last (and in my opinion certainly least) are the Berliner Weisse beers. [5] Soren describes 8 Wired Hippy Berliner (4%) 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.”

Just when I thought things could not get any worse – this happened. 8 Wired Cucumber Hippy Berliner (4%) is, in Soren’s words, “exactly the same beer but after dry hopping and chilling we rack it onto sliced cucumbers. We just chuck the cucumbers into the tank just like dry hops. I feel it gives a nice little subtle taste of cucumber to the final beer.”

Writing this blog promoted me to review the rap music in my collection. It is largely comprised of Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer, Beastie Boys, PM Dawn and John Cena. [6] If I can use a food metaphor, this rap selection is like walking into a Chinese restaurant and ordering deep fried won tons and sweet and sour pork. Yes, all these things exist but you instantly have no credibility with anybody in the know.

However, I did discover a hidden gem of street credibility in my music collection which I have been listening to while writing this blog. It is the soundtrack to the 1993 film “Judgement Night” and features collaborations between rappers and hardcore bands. Featured artists include Ice-T, Slayer, House of Pain, Run DMC, Faith No More, Cypress Hill, Sonic Youth, Six Mix-a-Lot, Pearl Jam, Dinosaur Jr and Del the Funky Homosapien. [7] I think my neighbours are about to call the police…

Next time we drink to the Black Caps and Black Ferns going all the way in their respective T20 World Cups. Best of luck boys and girls!

[1] For the first time on this blog, this is actually a reference to the singer rather than the immortal beer writer of the same name.

[2] “Hipper members of the staff” is basically everyone apart from Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish Malthouse Proprietor.

[3] In interviews this does not usually mean “that is a good question.” More often it equates to “I had not thought of that and need to buy a little time here.”

[4] I hope the exact same thing happens to me.

[5] Honestly, why is this still a thing?

[6] The former WWE World Champion who raps his own entrance music. Back when he was a bad guy (or “heel” as we smart fans call him) his battle raps with other wrestlers were very funny indeed.

[7] For the record, Del the Funky Homosapien would make an excellent name for an urban jazz trio.




Neil Miller

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