Tag Archive: Epic

Epic Armageddon IPA

Epic: Armageddon IPA (New Zealand: IPA: 6.66% ABV)

Visual: Burnished gold. Large mound of off white head that leaves suds. Some small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Popcorn hops. Light kiwi fruit. Resin. Slightly musty. Crushed malt biscuits.

Body: High bitterness. Custard cream biscuits. Bready. Tinned topical fruit. Large hop character. Toffee. Lemon sherbet. Froths up easily, carrying hop oils. Pineapple tartness. Lime notes. Marmalade.

Finish: Bready bitterness. Good hop character and resin. Mango juice with pulp. Dried apricot. Lemon sherbet. Hop oils. Gooseberry and pineapple.

Conclusion: Ok, an NZ IPA that concentrates more on the big bitterness than the tartness that you can get with NZ hops. Interesting. Risky as well, as it plays down what is NZ IPA’s big selling point. Let’s see how well this gets over.

Initial impressions is that it may have lost a bit of freshness on the way over to the UK – the hop character is impressively large, but just slightly musty – an element I normally run into in an IPA that has been around a few months. Even with that it is impressive with the level of hop bitterness and hop oils. Not to Stone Brewing level excellence, but considering Stone are the kings of hop beers, it does well to be compared with them.

The tart flavours, even though they are played down, are still here. There is more dried apricot sweetness that tart notes, which reminds me of American hops. The pineapple tartness comes in third in emphasis, just keeping everything fresh enough that the big hops don’t wear out their welcome too early.

As it warms it keeps a similar balance of flavour, but the fruit character does become clearer. It is impressive how they deliver that flavour without letting it get too sharp. Overall, even muted as it is by the journey this is a big IPA and well made. It can’t compete with the layered subtle complexity of 8 Wired’s Hop wired, it is more a straight up hop assault, but it is very good at that.

Not as good as Enjoy By IPA for sheer hop assault, then again that was fresh as can be, not as complex as Hopwired – but it mixes the two well enough to be a very good IPA to enjoy.

Background: Woo, Epic back in the house. Unlike most previous Epic beers this was not brought back from NZ for me by craft beer sis. Instead it is one of a batch of NZ beers that turned up in Brew Bristol. A fine shop that has a whole wealth of home brew stuff, including all the fun malts and hops. So, having had to come the slow way here it is slighter older than previous NZ beers I have tried, but still seems to be doing well. Drunk while listening to LukHash – Falling Apart. As I am still on a chiptune kick.

Epic: Thornbridge Stout (New Zealand: Stout: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Black with a reddish brown bubbled froth head of moderate size.

Nose: Dry roasted peanuts. Slight cream cheese. Black coffee. Very roasted with some treacle notes.

Body: Smooth, but bitter and roasted. Bitter chocolate. Some charring elements. A tingling hop feel.

Finish: Roasted and dry with good bitterness. Charring. Slightly earthy.

Conclusion: Stouts always seem to have one preferred element they concentrate on, be it chocolate, coffee, or in this case the roasted character.  It enhances it with quite the hop character and marries it to a decent chunk of roasted nuts.  Here I need to admit a touch of bias, as the more hoppy or roasted interpretations of the style tend not to be my favourite. It just feels too easy to misuse the hops and create an overly dry or rough beer without adding to the flavour.

Here it doesn’t do too badly, though it does lead to a very dry feeling stout. There is also nice bitter chocolate, but predominantly the beer seems to work to leave you thirstier than when you started drinking.

There are other familiar elements including that slightly soured cream cheese touch, or cloying cream maybe. It’s a slightly thick element that can be used to add refreshment to a stout if done well, or become annoying intrusive if not. Here it doesn’t add that much but does balance well with the roasted character.

Initially tried chilled, it is much better warm. It’s smoother and there is more of the deliciously bitter chocolate that offsets the roasted elements.  Chilling seems to down play the flavour and allow the hops too much free reign.

It is a drinkable beer, despite my general aversion to its chosen emphasis. Oddly if it was less roasted the smooth texture and chocolate would play well to create a beer I really think I would enjoy. As is it is a solid smooth stout but not great. A stout with more weight to it that the body would make you think, you can feel the liquid running down your throat with some determination.

Not bad, but not special enough to be enthralling, and not high quality enough to make it a gem, but still decent.

Background: Not, in fact, one of the New Zealand beer care package my sis brought back. This one hailed from Brewdogs guest beer section. Had a bit of a problem getting this one, but thankfully Brian from Brewdog helped sort it all out, much appreciated! This one is a collaboration between the British Brewery Thornbridge and the New Zealand brewery Epic. Both are pretty good breweries, if not in my all time favourite list, but each have put out some stonking beers.

Epic: Hop Zombie (New Zealand: IIPA: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Quite pale gold with good sized white bubbles and some carbonation.

Nose: Gooseberry and a mix of resin and hop oils. Vanilla hop character. Some earthy hops. Cake sponge.

Body: Good bitterness. Vanilla and toffee hints. Gooseberry and slightly tart with it. A slightly thick and yeasty feel. Elderberry. Cake sponge again. Almost floral at times.

Finish: Toffee and growing heavy hop bitterness. Dry rye crackers. Some sour grapes. Yeasty. Resinous.

Conclusion: New Zealand hops tend towards the tarter end of the fruit spectrum. You know? Grapefruit, gooseberry and the like. Imperial IPAs tend towards massive sweet malt backbones to offset hop bitterness.  Thus I was intrigued to see what this beer would be like, my first true NZ IIPA. I had a little kinda preview in Scotland’s Hardcore NZ, but this is the real thing.

This is a bit more subtle than I expected. Now anyone who has drunk this beer will probably be looking at me like I have two heads right now, so please, let me explain. The bitterness is formidable, yes, and very welcome it is so.  There is bitterness hinted in the aroma, solid in body and kicking in the finish.

So what do I mean? Well the fresh tart hops tend towards the gooseberry and elderberry end of the scale, fresh but not the full on grapefruit assault that some NZ hops can bring. These are then nestled with the bourbon toffee like sweetness to create a fresh sweet base that is promptly used as a hop delivery system. Thus it is not as shockingly tart as expected, but still effective.

It reminds me in a way of Pliny the Elder in that it feels like ramped up IPA, unlike a lot of IIPAs that feel like a completely different style altogether to their lower abv cousins. It does make the beer dangerously easy to drink, especially with smooth yeasty character mid body that puts me in mind of the smoother Belgium efforts.

Flavour wise then it like a sessionable* version of I Hardcore You, all the freshness but none of the harshness. I am quite taken by this beer.  Initially I felt incorrectly that it needed a bit more harsh kick, as I reach the end I realise what it needs is another bottle and a full one at that.

A lovely drinkable hoppy IIPA.

Background: “Send More Hops” the words emblazoned above the label and a reference to “Return Of The Living Dead”, that was about the point I really wanted to like this beer. Yes I’m a zombie fan.  This beer was a gift from my sister, for which I give much thanks. This is doubly cool, as New Zealand beers can take a hell of a long time to reach our shores normally and the subtle flavours of very highly hopped beers can be lost quickly so a chance to try this rare high hopped beer fresh from NZ is a rare treat. I was going to save this beer, but the chance to try it fresh was too good to miss.

* Yes, yes I know at 8.5% it is nowhere near a session beer, I’m talking flavour alone here.

Epic: Mayhem (New Zealand: American Strong Ale: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Slightly reddened and clear. Just off white head. Quite smooth set of racked bubbles in a coffee froth style.

Nose: Fresh grapefruit and gooseberry with a distinct hop character.  Smooth, tart and fresh. Dried apricot. Toffee and malt sweetness. Riesen chocolate chews.

Body: Tingling hops. Moderate bitterness. Slight milky coffee hints. Thin acidic fruit tartness. Grapefruit. A thick stream of coffee liquor when warm. Toffee.

Finish: Dry hoppiness and popcorn texture. Nettles. Malted drinks. Pink grapefruit. Light toffee and marmalade.

Conclusion: Talk about a disconnect from nose to tongue. This from early on drew me in with a subtle smooth hop aroma and because of that I couldn’t wait to give it a taste. The smell was tart and hoppy into a smooth malt and toffee sweetness. It promised a balanced malt dose to fruity hop bomb.

On main body that subtlety vanishes to give an old fashioned hop tingle that calls more to the simple golding and fuggles hops than the more fruity NZ and USA hops which it is crammed with.

The dominance of the hop character oddly doesn’t come with quite the massive bitterness that you would expect. Unfortunately it doesn’t come with the flavour range that the aroma promised either.

I guess in attempt to ratchet up the hoppiness they lost a lot of the style, a real pity as it promised so much.  It’s still drinkable as a hoppy beer, but it feels like it ends up half way between a American Ale and an IPA without settling either. As such if is nowhere near as good as a dedicated example of each style, for example 8 wired’s excellent Hop Wired IPA.

Overall, as you can probably guess at this point, an excellent nose, a basic hop body with hints of what it could have been.  Not bad but disappointing.

Background:  Picked up from Brewdog’s Guest Beers section. Epic is one of the big names from New Zealand so I thought it about time to give them a try.  Made with the NZ hop  Riwaka and the USA Cascade hop.  Don’t know too much about Riwaka  so this will be an experience for me, the Cascade hop seems to be a quality main beam of the American hops. Apparently this was brewed as  Festival beer in small amounts so I guess I should be chuffed it reached the UK.

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