The beer that started a revolution

The beer that started a revolution

Posted by Luke Nicholas on

If there was one day when New Zealand’s rich beer history changed direction forever it was April 29, 2006. That was the day Epic Pale Ale was named supreme champion at the New Zealand International Beer Awards. As Epic owner-brewer Luke Nicholas celebrates the 10th anniversary of a career-defining night in Nelson he reflects on the changing trend in the beer market that has brought consumers full circle and back to a beer that started a revolution. “If you were able to say that on a certain day, there was a single beer that changed craft beer in New Zealand it was April 29, 2006, the day Epic Pale Ale won supreme champion at the New Zealand International Beer Awards,” Nicholas says. “It was just so different to anything that had come before it". “If you look back to before that day the dominant craft beers were Emerson’s and Tuatara and they owned the landscape with their hoppy pilsners." “Epic Pale Ale was the start of a revolution – it was a big hoppy pale ale of the sort New Zealand hadn’t seen and it was in a bottle and available everywhere.” When it won that first award, Epic Pale Ale was so new it hadn’t actually reached the market. “We had pallets of beer ready to go and didn’t know how we were going to sell it,” Nicholas recalls, “but the award sold it for us.” The award allowed Nicholas to strike a distribution deal with Tasman Liquor which in turn paved the way for other fledging craft breweries to get access to a wider market. While Epic’s flagship pale ale carved a path towards beefed-up hoppy beers, Nicholas is now seeing a trend that’s bringing people back to Epic Pale Ale as they look for sessionable, flavoursome and reliable beer. “The way the market has developed, people have spent a decade trying all sorts of beers – double IPAs, sours, imperial stouts – and after all that experimentation, they are asking themselves: what are the good ones?" “They just want a well-made beer that’s easy to drink, and you can drink a couple of them." “So I’m finding people, after a journey of discovery, are rediscovering Epic Pale Ale. It was a really good beer 10 years ago and it’s a really good beer today.”

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