Disclaimer: I am and always have been an Epic Brewery fan boy and I consider their Impish Brewer – Luke Nicholas – to be a personal friend. He was certainly one of the first brewers I interviewed while going through that awkward phase of becoming a professional beer writer. I recall fondly having a pint of Cock and Bull’s Monk’s Habit IPA [2] with him and (Father) Chris O’Leary (then Limburg now Emerson’s) in Auckland. They were astonished that I ordered an Imperial Pint of that fine hoppy beer – they had halves – and even more surprised I finished it.

Those were simpler times. Over the course of the same interview I also ate a delicious mutton pie – a dish from my homeland of Scotland which went straight to the arteries in my tiny dark heart. There is probably a reason they do not make them commercially these days. [3]

Epic Brewery is turning eleven and Malthouse is marking this more than auspicious event with an Epic Tap Takeover. [4] It starts at Midday on 16 December 2016 and runs till the beer runs out. To be fair, the event is officially called the Epic Brewery 11th Birthday Knees-Up. There will be 14 Epic beers on tap – because 11 would make far too much sense – as well as a Hidden World gin and tonic on tap, and an Epic Armageddon/Champagne hybrid on tap. What could possibly go wrong there?

Here is the beer list and my informed commentary:

Epic Loral Smashy Lager (5.5%) – New beer, new hop (Loral) and my samples must have got lost in the earthquake. 20 IBUs.

Epic Awakening Pilsner (5.2%) – I have most certainly felt it. This beer has a Star Wars inspired name and will (appropriately) be pouring at the Epic tap takeover the day after the Star Wars Rogue One premiere. I will be there with my lightsaber. Later I may enjoy an Epic Awakening which I consider one of the best New Zealand Pilsners.

Epic Thunder APA (5.8%) – Packed with Mosaic hops and inspired by the AC/DC rock anthem. It is not quite full of alligators but it is pretty snappy. Also the brewer or one of his minions seemingly noted that it is apparently “”Tunder” to you Ciaran” (the beatific, bucolic and bossomatic Malthouse Unit Manager who hails from the Emerald Isle of Ireland).

Epic Armageddon IPA (6.66%) – More medals than Phar Lap. I named it many years ago, loved this IPA ever since, continue to love everything about it. I am now quite thirsty.

Epic Hop Zombie Double IPA (8.5%) – Right, now I am really thirsty because the only thing that survives Armageddon is the Hop Zombies. This beer is hoppy as all get go, dangerously drinkable and one of my bona fide dessert island beers.

Epic Eric the Red Red IPA (6.5%) – It is not the easiest beer name in the world to order coherently. A nice amber IPA but of course being ginger it has no soul.

Epic Stone Hammer IPA (7%) – A potent potion of Citra, Mosaic and Simcoe hops. A wise man once said that the only thing that can kill a Hop Zombie is the Stone Hammer. So drop the hammer. [5]

Epic Thor Double IPA (8.8%) – Epic’s entry into the iconic Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge this year. I have drunk a number of these, I was Thor after but it was totally worth it.

Epic Son of Thor IPA – I am presuming this is a more sessionable version of Thor. Cannot say I approve but I understand why it has to exist.

Epic Snow White White IPA (6.5%) – Annoyingly made up new style of IPAs with wheat grist. Even more annoyingly, it is really good.

Epic Lager (5%) – Balanced and well made. It is a perfect introduction to the mad mind of Epic Brewing.

Epic Larger (8.5%) – This is an Imperial Pilsner that is perhaps a more accurate introduction to the mad mind of Epic Brewing. Also one of the few beers to ever get a printed apology from the Dominion Post after they tried to mock the Fork & Brewer for misspelling “Lager” on their roadside sign when they did in fact mean “Larger”. Take that mainstream media!

Epic Coffee and Fig 2014 Imperial Oatmeal Stout (8%) – Nonsense on stilts brewed simply so Luke can say “see? Neil does not like all my beers.”

Then things start to get really unusual because the Impish Brewer has been developing a brand of gin – so there will be Hidden World Gin and Tonic on tap – and he has made an Epic Armageddon/Champagne hybrid on tap. I have had the Hidden world gin and it is really good. Never thought I would live in a world where 1) Brewers made gin and 2) I liked gin. Pipewrench for the win!

As noted earlier, John Key has been in the news this week announcing his resignation as the most popular Prime Minister in New Zealand history. It is a little-known fact that he appeared in this very blog back in January 2010. The post “Beer, Civilisation and Politics” revealed the beer preferences of every political leader in New Zealand. [6] I love living in a country where they all replied.

“Prime Minister John Key (Leader of the National Party) – His spokesman indicated “The Prime Minister enjoys a cold, crisp traditional style golden lager, particularly on a hot summer’s day.”  When asked about the Bath Gem story, he sanguinely noted “on occasion, the Prime Minister has purchased the beers listed in the item.”” [7]

Hon Phil Goff (Leader of the Labour Party) – Mr Goff replied saying “I am a big fan of Emerson’s Pilsner. It’s crisp and refreshing, and a great summer drink – especially after a day spent making hay. Plus Emerson’s is a superb Kiwi niche brewery.”

The quote that makes up the title of this blog is from Laurie Anderson, an American musician. She also said “paradise is exactly like where you are right now… only much, much better.” I like her style.

Next time, we drink to retiring Prime Minister John Key, despite declaring at the opening of the Tuatara Brewing in Paraparaumu that he was “more of a wine guy myself”.

[1] Actually, we will come back to Mr Key later but purely about beer I promise.

[2] Why is this not a thing anymore? It was one of the greatest beers in New Zealand history.

[3] If anyone is actually still making mutton pies these days, shut up and take my money.

[4] I do not think the Malty marketing goblins put in much overtime to come up with “Epic Tap Takeover” as an event name. However, I for one applaud it. Honesty is too often lost in this modern world.

[5] OK – it was me – not a wise man or even a wise guy.

[6] We have a LOT of political parties in New Zealand.

[7] Click the link below to find out about the John Key and Bath Gem story. It is… complicated.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine


Epic Brewery’s 11th Birthday Knees-Up Facebook event – https://www.facebook.com/events/1153823324665956/

Beer, Civilisation and Politics – http://themalthouse.co.nz/blog/120-beer-civilisation-and-politics

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 – http://www.twitter.com/#!/beerlytweeting