Epic beer is one of the leading lights in the local brewing industry. Awash with awards, prevalent online and in the media the Epic brand has probably done more for our craft beer industry than any other brand. It would be remiss to go much further without touching on the Epic Brand and it’s hop fuelled range.
The Epic Brewing Company
In 1995 a gent by the name of Kieran Meyer felt a keen boredom with local mass-market beer. He dreamed of a place Kiwis could drink a range of proper micro-brewed beer. So he gathered some partners and together they established the first Cock & Bill Tavern in Pakuranga. The building also housed a fully functioning microbrewery, pumping out English style ales for the tavern. The brewery was a separate business called the Steam Brewing Company.
Luke Nicholas was another man with a keen interest in beer. His hobby had become a profession when he started realbeer during the dot-com era. He was brought into the Steam Brewing Company as it’s head brewer and General Manager, responsible for producing the pub’s range of ales.
It soon became apparent that a good number of Kiwis had also grown bored with mass-market beer. The pub and it’s range of handcrafted ales quickly gained a loyal following and soon five more pubs opened across Auckland.
In 2004, the Steam Brewing Company purchased Auckland Breweries in Otahuhu to increase it’s capacity to meet demand. As a bonus, the new site included a commercial bottling line capable of filling 200 bottles per minute.
It didn’t take Luke long to propose that the equipment should be used to produce a bottled beer separate from the Cock & Bull brand. 2005 was spent creating the Epic brand and developing the perfect recipe, which was trialed at the Tavern. The new beer was officially launched and in 2006 won the Supreme Champion Beer award in the New Zealand International Beer Awards. The judges picked the new brew as top, from 199 local contenders.
Preferring to focus solely on the new and promising brand, a year later Luke purchased the Epic brand from the Steam Brewing Company. This included an agreement to continue brewing the Epic Beer range as a client of the Steam Brewing Company. This sort of arrangement is not uncommon, with many brands brewed out of third party breweries.
Four years on, Epic Beer has grow substantially, enjoyed 200% growth in 2010 alone. The company now rates in the top five craft breweries in the country by size. Epic Beer is also being exported by the pallet load to the States, selling through niche stores to the rapidly growing craft beer market.
If you like their beer check out their web site and Twitter feeds. The Epic team is impressively active online so there is always plenty of information and forewarning of limited releases.