Auckland Today [article]
It’s a rare beer that can take out a supreme award before it’s even been released. But such achievements are par for the course for Steam Brewing Company, the multi-award-winning enterprise that started out with one small local pub and grew. Steam’s Epic Pale Ale, the company’s first bottled beer, was named Supreme Champion Beer at the New Zealand International Beer Awards in April. It’s not the first such win for Steam, which is now the only brewery in the country which has won the supreme award three times. In line with its latest winner, and its epic intentions, the company is in the process of rebranding itself as Epic Brewing Company. The story begins with the Cock and Bull, initially one little English-style pub in East Tamaki, where Steam Brewing Company began producing beer in 1995. Five pubs and 150 medals later, the two companies (which share directors) have made a significant mark on the hospitality scene. Now, the craft brewery is branching out further with its own bottling plant. Epic, an American Pale Ale, is described as full-flavoured, hoppy and very tasty – but not difficult to drink despite its complexity. Cameron Williamson from the Dominion Post described “an intense, almost kaleidoscopic spectrum of aromas from tropical fruit to caramelised onions with a paddockful of herbal highs in between, rich fruity and complex malt action from a big mouthful, and a finish as sweet as violets and as dry as a week in the desert.” This description is not out of the ordinary for Steam Brewing Company. Its beers are renowned among serious lovers of good ale, and not just in New Zealand. The brand features prominently on international beer lovers’ websites, directing travellers to visit Cock and Bull outlets for a decent drink. Steam also contract brews for a number of other breweries, all with a dedicated staff of just five people. General manager Luke Nicholas says the expansion of the pubs led the company to buying a new brewery, the former Auckland Brewery in Otahuhu, which happened to come with a bottling line. “Something we had always wanted to do was bottle our own beer, and we are now able to do it.” Bottling means Epic, and eventually other beers, can become more readily available in a wider range of markets. Bars in places as diverse as Wellington, Blenheim and Lyttelton have been ordering crates of Epic. The bottling line has also opened up possibilities in other beverage markets. The company already contract bottles fruit juices and energy drinks, and is looking at moving into the RTD market.