Crafty Corner has an Epic experience

May 21, 2024
5 mins read

ASHTON BROWN gets utterly blotto taste-testing a range of fine beers at the Epic Taproom.  

Our man Ashton enthusiastically tasting the Epic wares

Hello there, kind gentlepersons and welcome to Crafty Corner, a place where I drink beer, chat to brewers and share some thoughts about the craft beer scene in Aotearoa. So sit back, grab your reading glasses and let’s chat beer.

This week I was fortunate enough to catch up with the founder and head brewer of Epic Beer, Luke Nicholas. This is a man who is as passionate about craft beer as he is about loud shirts and good conversation. This isn’t the first time I’ve enjoyed the man’s company and I’m certainly no stranger to his beer.

Before we got into the beers he updated me about the going on at our meeting place – the Epic Taproom on Neilson Street, Onehunga, Auckland. Set up like an airport hangar complete with decommissioned airplane bursting through the wall opposite a 5ft neon cowboy that used to live on Queen Street, this is the perfect venue to eat amazing pizza, have a crank at some pinball and of course choose from an incredible variety of Epic beers which are available both on tap and by the can.

The Epic lineup expectantly waits to be supped

Like the airplane and the cowboy, every can of Epic tells a story, and I don’t mean that in a metaphorical sort of way. Every can of Epic beer literally has a little story on the side that reveals inspiration for the style or flavour and makes you feel like you’re going on a little bit of a journey that your tastebuds will shortly join you on. Nicholas is a storyteller. This isn’t just evident when you read his beers but also in the general energy he exudes if you chat with him. He’s excited to share his story through the beer he’s rightly incredibly proud of.

Luke lets me glug a range of “seasonal” beers that he have been releasing monthly so far this year.

First up is the Pinball, named after the obvious wall of pinball machines at the venue. This is quite a malty IPA and I’m not usually a fan of beers where the malt is a more prominent flavour profile, but I’ll admit this goes down like a liquid cuddle. With Chinook, Cascade and Centennial hops I’d describe this as a warm beer – despite being ice cold. A perfect Autumn beer.

“This is very malty,” I say to Nicholas, who corrects me with the fact that it’s actually considered a medium level of malt. Not my favourite beer of the evening but that’s more a credit to the tastings to come than a disservice to this one. A good IPA for those who still enjoy their lagers.

Lucky patrons might spot Epic beer maestro Luke Nicholas behind the counter

Next is the Otto, a hazy IPA. Luke says that, “If beer was a dartboard, this would be right in the middle of hazy IPAs”. Funnily enough I know what he means. It’s everything you want from an excellent hazy: super hoppy and super palatable. Mosaic and Citra hops are a winning combination here and this is a superb Summer beer, like all hazies, thanks to its fruity flavour profile.

Big Tex is next, with the giant neon cowboy from the wall dominating the label. It’s an IPA that uses West Coast hops – specifically Columbus, Simcoe and Mosaic for a bit of a fruit kick. The result is a hoppy, dry and bitter drop. I don’t use the word dank lightly, but it’s a fitting description and this would be my kind of beer to either start or finish an evening of alcoholic consumption.

Bloody excited. That was my reaction to Stay Frosty. It’s exceptional. Mosaic, Simcoe and Citra hops come together in this can. An interesting point of difference is the use of lager yeast that was fermented warm. This reduces the more overpowering lager taste that I usually find off-putting. This beer hits the back of your throat with the same vigour as it hits the depths of your belly: it’s cooling for summer yet simultaneously warms you up. Boasting an alcoholic content of 6.7%, its taste isn’t overpowered by this like some high percentage beers. I’m not ashamed to say I had an emotional response to how good this beer was, and it’s not just because it was my fourth of the night. I revisited this beer a few days later and I still wanted to marry it. True to its can design of a monk playing guitar, this beer was enlightening. It was heavenly. As I write this, I wish I had one in front of me.

Nicholas then introduced me to the Hop Dragon, another hazy IPA. Unlike the other beers from our tasting, this is a single-hop beer – Riwaka hops. I didn’t expect a single-hop beer to have such a complex variety of flavours but this has a real punch of fruit flavours. Passionfruit, tropical and guava make great companions in this brew. As Nicholas explains the process behind this particular beer I realised how much us beer drinkers take for granted. This beer boasts farm fresh hops which are air freighted, picked, delivered and brewed under sunrise. The cost and commitment involved to bring such a delicious hazy to our doorsteps is a credit to his passion for bloody good beer. It’s another hard beer to fault, and if you like your hazies then you aren’t going to need to look much further than this.

Closing out the night with another hazy, I was admittedly starting to feel slightly hazy myself! Tilt is made with Eldorado, mosaic and chinook hops.

“This tastes less carbonated than the others,” I say to Nicholas, who assures me it’s simply because it’s my sixth beer, not my first, and my palate is a bit confused by this point in the evening. There are tropical notes here, but less so than I would expect from a hazy – almost like a tropical lemonade with what I could swear was a hint of coconut despite this not being part of the flavour profile. It’s certainly a delicious beer and very easy to drink.

Epic beer is one of the best breweries in the country, if not worldwide. In fact, at present I would say that it is my favourite brewery. Nicholas has a very clear understanding of what people want from his beers, what people look for in the different styles of beers that he brews and is always discovering new and interesting ways to both challenge and lean into what’s expected. If you live in Auckland and haven’t been to the Epic Taproom on Neilson Street then you are truly missing out. Exceptional food, exceptional beer, and if you are lucky enough to see a bloke with blonde curly hair, an Epic cap and a loud shirt, then you are in for some epic company too.

PS, If you make or sell great beer and want to feature in Crafty Corner, please contact us here:


Ashton Brown is Witchdoctor's craft beer writer and film reviewer, and a self-professed geek, horror fanatic and post-rock enthusiast.

Ashton Brown is a freelance reviewer, writer, actor and director. You may have seen him on some ads (he's the big hairy guy) or at the NZ Comedy Festival. He's Witchdoctor's craft beer writer and film reviewer, and a self-professed geek, horror fanatic and post-rock enthusiast.

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