The winner came as no surprise – Epic’s IPA on a Stick (6.7%). A great example of Epic’s house style, with a delicate hops/malt balance. This is how Epic describes it:

“After a series of winning People’s Choice at West Coast IPA Challenge in Wellington and NZ IPA Challenge in Queenstown, we thought it fun to focus on making the most drinkable hoppy IPA we could, rather than the most brutal, bitter, hop particle in the back of the throat, IPA” (I can hear some of you saying we should have done that, patience grasshopper).

“We have deliciously crafted a perfect silky hop flavour delivery system which is so balanced you won’t be able to taste where the hops start and the malt finishes. You will only know how good it is, as your senses light up your brain. So perfect you may have to buy another one just to make sure you can understand why it is just so right. Why take such a big risk and do this? Well one of the judging criteria is drinkability.”

“The magic comes from the special blend of Citra and Nelson Sauvin hops. The most popular US and NZ hops coming together to give you absolute perfection in a glass. It is hard to describe the aroma, and flavour due to their seamlessness. But there is an obvious inviting citrusy hoppy aroma, and an ideal marriage of Pale Ale malt and hop resin, and a kiss of bitterness in the finish.”

Coming in second, and carrying the Peoples’ Choice Award proudly high, was ParrotDog’s LB IPA (6.8%). This was another relatively sessionable WCIPA – in as much as a 6.8 percenter is ever sessionable, but like Epic’s entry it left you wanting another.

And third was McLeod’s Glinks Gully (6.9%), a slightly spicy and slightly boozy example of the style. Seeing McLeod’s up there on the virtual podium came as no surprise to me – the little brewery is on a roll this year, picking up the Champion Small International Brewery trophy at the Australian International Beer AwardsMcLeod’s are right now installing some big, new, shiny tanks, so expect more better beer from the North soon.

So just what does that mean for posterity? Here’s the combined results for the WCIPA Challenge since 2012, when it first opened up to multiple brewers:

First       Second      Third

Epic                           2              2              2

ParrotDog                   2              1               –

Liberty                       2              –               1

Moa                          2              –               1

Renaissance               1              1               –

Good George               –              2              –

Tuatara                      –              1              1

Fork                           –              1              1

Garage Project            –              1               –

Hallertau                    –              1               –

Baylands                    –              –               1

McLeod’s                    –              –               1

So a solid showing from Epic over the years, with an unmatched six podium places. The question for next year – will anyone take it out for a third time?


Martin Craig

Malthouse events

Wednesday 7 August – Road to Beervana The Great British Takeover. Featuring Thornbridge (England), Tiny Rebel (Wales) and Fierce Beer Co (Scotland). As the road to Beervana rolls round again, we will be showcasing all things British. Not only will there be special guests there will be 10+ taps pouring some of the outrageous beer being made by some of the best breweries in the UK.

And keep your eye out for a palate-cleansing return of Ginhouse during Beervana week. The third Ginhouse for 2019 sees a welcome return of Hidden World Gin, once again alongside Epic Beer (and you might be lucky enough to get a taste of IPA on a Stick if you somehow foolishly missed the WCIPA Challenge). Needs more juniper…