#359 Epic – Message In a Bottle

Michael, the book, the beer and I.

Name: Message In a Bottle
Brewery: Epic (Akl, NZ)
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.5%
Source: O’Carrolls Freehouse

On Wednesday night I attended the loveliest, rowdiest book launch I’ve ever been to – the unveiling of Michael Donaldson’s “Beer Nation” at O’Carrolls.

Telling the story of beer in New Zealand, and that’s what this book does, is a heroic task if you ask me.  I get nervous of getting some fact wrong and upsetting somebody every time I hit Publish, so to put out an entire book which covers so much and will be scrutinized by plenty of beer geeks – that takes balls.

And while I’ve only had time to read passages, it seems Michael nailed it.  It gives in-depth (yet easy to read) coverage of both the history and the current state of beer in NZ, and is loaded with lovely old photographs of brewing legends (with bonus comedy moustaches!), breweries, newspaper articles and advertisements. Beer geeks will love it, but so will anyone with an interest in New Zealand history.

(And because this blog happened to coincide with Michael’s research period, I even made it into the Women in Beer chapter! It seems I said some strange things when he interviewed me last year, like “women drink beer differently to men” and “I try not to eat too much junk food”, but I was glad to see a great quote from my Mum made it in, immortalized in NZ beer history forever.)

In my experience, most book launches serve sauvignon blanc or Heineken with brie, but clearly that wasn’t going to fly with beer people. For this one Epic brewed a special beer – to Michael’s brief – which is based on the beer Kiwis brewed “before industrialisation, prohibition-pleasing law reform and rationalisation turned beer into a one-dimensional mass-produced commodity”.  Apparently that was based on the IPAs being shipped over from the UK, and so we have a slightly meta situation of a beer based on beer based on beer.

I  think Luke did a great job. I didn’t actually take notes because I was too busy yakking, but I remember it had a subtle hop aroma, an almost burnt caramel, roasty malt flavour with quite a lot of hop bitterness at the finish. It came across as really well-balanced, super drinkable and totally secretive of its high ABV.  I don’t expect it will be as popular as Epic’s massive hop-forward IPAs, but those who prefer English style IPAs might like it best of all.

Today’s thanks goes to Epic’s Luke Nicholas. Luke not only increased my initial pageviews by about a million times by putting this blog on the Realbeer site, he’s had me at the HQ for some incredible tastings, agreed to be my Beervana Media Brew partner… Even arranged my one-time awkward stint on TV. Thanks Luke!

Buy Beer Nation here. 

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Published in: on August 3, 2012 at 11:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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