Words & Photos - Matthew Curtis
Don’t be fooled by the title, this isn’t another blog about another debauched evening spent boozing it up with my Father, this is about a fantastic pale ale from New Zealand’s Epic Beer. I’ve a big soft spot for the Kiwis, it’s my girlfriend Dianne’s country of origin and I was lucky enough to spend two weeks on the North Island last year. Naturally one of the first things I did was pick myself up some beers, I was already aware of the big Kiwi brands such as Steinlager, Speight's and Tui but I wanted something that appealed to my tastes and on a whim picked up a six pack of Epic Pale Ale. I had not heard of Epic before but I was pulled in by the modern design on the packaging and the fact that even Dianne and her folks hadn’t heard of them so I couldn't resist taking some with me to try.
Epic Beer is sweet as, eh.
I was but a fledgling hop addict when I was in New Zealand and back home I had just discovered Brewdog beer so I was well into the start of my downward spiral towards beer geekdom. The first few beers I had in NZ were enjoyable, refreshing but didn’t set my world on fire and so I wasn’t expecting much when I cracked open a bottle of pale ale from this new brewery I nor any of the Kiwis I was staying with had ever heard of. I had to take a moment, Dianne was holding her head in disbelief, her parents had no idea what the hell was happening as I danced around the kitchen with boyish enthusiasm. Epic Pale Ale had set off a super fresh hop bomb in my mouth, it was one of the best beers I had tasted by that point in my life, it was that damn good.
Sadly once I'd returned to the UK I had resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be able to drink any more Epic beer (not to be confused with Epic Brewing of Salt Lake City, Utah) until I next had the chance to visit New Zealand which wouldn’t be for quite some time. As chance would have it those cheeky chaps at Brewdog would be the ones to once again set up this union between man and beer thanks to the excellent guest beer selection in their online shop. It’s been almost exactly a year since I had my head blown clean off by the brilliance of Epic pale ale and as last Thursday was ANZAC Day I could think of no better occasion to crack open this bottle of antipodean delight.
Mayhem is not part of the Epic core range, instead being brewed in limited batches as a festival beer. It is billed as an American style strong pale ale and features a combination of hops from both New Zealand and the United States. This lively pale ale pours with a nice, clear, deep amber hue and produces a fluffy and ever so slightly off white head. I stick my nose in and immediately get an aroma that reeks of big chunks of pineapple and freshly grated lemon rind. The mouth feel is nicely rounded and satisfying, a conga line of passion fruit and pineapple makes way across my tongue and at the back of the line is the malt, dancing the night away and producing sweetness that reminds me of a big, doughy sponge cake. The finish is nicely bitter and very moreish, it wasn’t the massive hop slam I was expecting but it was a really well balanced and quaffable beer with delicious dry fruit notes and a big, bready, sweet malt base.
This is truly an epic beer, fitting of the name the brewery has chosen for itself and I would love to see their beers become more readily available in the UK (a recurring theme on this blog it would appear.) As I said earlier I bought this beer from the excellent guest beer selection in the Brewdog online shop and although they’re unsurprisingly out of stock I hope they get hold of some more Epic soon. It's fantastic to see that like both the UK and the US, New Zealand is developing a fast growing craft beer scene and with brewers like Epic involved it's not difficult to see why craft beer is getting big in the South Pacific.