Luke Nicholas started his journey at the Cock and Bull brewpub back in 1997, working for the brewing arm of the English pub chain on and off for 10 years. In 2004 he became the general manager and Head Brewer of the production brewery of Steam Brewing Company. It was here that he created the Epic beer brand. He spoke to the team about the Epic journey.
What is your company background, how did you start the business
“The opportunity to buy the Epic brand from my employers came up in 2007, and I jumped at the opportunity to grow the brand. Epic Brewing Company are lovers of the aromatic hop flower, creating a wonderful range of floral and citrus-tasting award-winning beers. Brewed in Auckland, Epic is widely known for its powerful list of IPA’s including the sought-after Hop Zombie and the multiple award winning Armageddon IPA.”
“Everyone that lives in New Zealand, or has travelled here for a holiday, has had to make an Epic journey. Whether it be by canoe or commercial airliner they travelled a great distance to the end of the world to be in this beautiful country of New Zealand.”
What is the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?
“We have a staple range of six beers, consisting of Awakening Pilsner, Lager, Pale Ale, Armageddon, Thunder and the infamous Hop Zombie. Epic is unique in the use of high levels of hops. Epic has been the largest user of aroma hops in NZ for the last 10 years. I travel to the US (where Epic gets most of its hops from) each hop harvest season, September, to visit the growers in the fields to get to understand where his hops come from. We use hop varieties like winemakers use grape varieties. No other NZ brewer travels to US hop harvest, and Epic is the only brewery in NZ that imports its own hops direct from the growers. Epic has hops contracted each year, five years into the future.”
Has there been any recent company news?
“We strive to brew a new beer every month, so there are always new product launches on the horizon. Armageddon continues to surprise, as it has won BEST IPA 6 times since 2015, in 3 different countries. Possibly the most awarded beer in NZ to date.”
What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon?
“Always room for ideas on expansion, but nothing concrete as of yet. Always expanding our export markets, specifically China right now is booming for us.”
Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability?
“Epic Beer is available in most Liquorlands, Foodstuffs and Progressive Stores. Also on tap across NZ - See our website for updates!”