Scotland still came third – which is way better than sixth – and in the intervening week also managed to win their first Six Nations rugby match against Ireland. [1] This raises the incredibly exciting possibility that there may be up to two Scottish players in the Lions side to tour New Zealand later this year. [2]

Perhaps because my beloved Scotland beat his bedazzled Ireland, Ciaran the Leading, Liberal and Lollygagging Malthouse Unit Manager has demanded that I actually talk about beer for the majority of this post. Clearly, this will be a serious break with a long-standing Malthouse blog tradition, but I can live with it because the topics specified involve two of my favourite New Zealand breweries – Epic Brewing Company and 8 Wired Brewery.

This is despite the fact they are both based in Auckland. But, after all, it could be worse. It could be Hamilton… [3]

Putting Hamilton aside – and I think we can all agree on that course of action – Epic Brewing Company has a number of new beers appearing on tap at Malthouse this week, some for the first time in Wellington. Malty is hosting the Wellington launch of Epic Rooster Lager 6.8%), along with starting to pour the new House of Nicholas Hop A (6.8%) and House of Nicholas Hop B (6.8%) India Pale Ales. All three will be pouring from 3pm on Friday 10 February 2017.

Epic Rooster is a keg-only limited release which was unveiled on Chinese New Year because it is, after all, the Year of the Rooster. The use of Pacific Jade, Liberty, Santiam and Amarillo hops produce a robust 45 International Bitterness Units (IBUs). It is a strong double hopped imperial lager – and I really could have done with a couple of jugs of this watching the Patriots make a ludicrous comeback in this year’s Super Bowl. [4] The Impish Brewer Luke Nicholas is best known for his hop-forward ales and sweet air guitar moves, but he makes a fine lager when he puts his mind to it.

The House of Nicholas is a collaborative brewing endeavour between Luke Nicholas (Epic) and Simon Nicholas (Hop Federation). As canon would have it, Luke and Simon have a common 18th century English ancestor called “Sarah” and that inspired their initial brew of the same name. Now, I am a qualified historian and as such am not entirely convinced of the veracity of this claim. However, it was a more than passable pale ale so it did get a pass mark from me.

Most expected “Sarah” to be a one-off but the House of Nicholas has returned with not one but two beers. They are imaginatively titled Hop A and Hop B. Both are India Pales Ales but showcase different and secretive hops. I have not had the chance to sample either but the ratings on Untapped have Hop A marginally ahead (by .04 out of 5). This is one issue that should only be resolved by a side-by-side tasting. They also go on tap at 3pm on Friday 10 February.

Malthouse is proud to be hosting 8 Wired brewer Brian Watts this week. To celebrate, they will be pouring three of his beers (in addition to the extensive range in the fridges). It is no secret that I adore many of 8 Wired’s brews but want to take a sledge hammer to others. At the Malthouse this week, the verdict is pure Meatloaf – “two out of three ain’t bad.” [5]

I have previously declared “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.”” I adore this beer and cannot wait for the fresh hopped version when the season starts.

Despite numerous attempts I have never managed to pen a proper review of Super Conductor. This quote from last year explains why – “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.”

I was however moved by 8 Wired Hippy Berliner (4%) though not in a good way. [6] In the sense I was moved to slap anyone who tried to serve me this Berliner Weisse, easily one of the worst beer styles in the world since Radler. Given my clear and present bias, I turn back to brewer Soren Erikson for a far less bigoted view on this beer. Soren said the beer was 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.”

The last time this beer was on tap the ever inventive and slightly evil Malthouse staff decided to provoke me by serving from the Hopinator over fresh cucumber. Much to my surprise (and theirs) I thought it tasted much better. Now, if Hippy Berliner was mixed with avocado [7] then there really would be problems.

Next time, we drink to the hidden benefits of beer. For example, in 2013 I wrote in the New Zealand Herald that one advantage was “after beer, Gareth Morgan’s constant lectures become slightly less annoying.” That is even truer now than when I penned it. I guess the political world just needs even more old, white, male millionaires telling them what to do…

[1] I don’t think an apology has every felt so good. It is like that one famous time when Chuck Norris apologised for being wrong, but it turned out he was mistaken…

[2] Based on the last Lions tour’s selection policy, an English player would have to be legally declared dead for two years before a Scottish player got selected ahead of him as a substitute… I’m not bitter – just the facts.

[3] The “City of the Future” – unless we make some significant changes around here, people.

[4] There are two types of American football fans – those that hate the New England Patriots, and those who are wrong.

[5] Mr Meatloaf remains an inspiration to all us husky gentlemen around the globe.

[6] An old quote from the Ren and Stimpy cartoon sprung to mind: Ren – “That is very touching, Stimpy… like touching the back of your throat” [barf noise].

[7] Avocado = Demon Slime Fruit (patent pending).


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine


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