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July 25, 2011 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Beer Will Be Beer – Moooore Hoooooooops!

“Needs More Hops” is a commonly heard phrase around beer bars. And every year the Malthouse holds a celebration of this phrase—the Annual West Coast IPA Challenge.

Traditionally, this challenge has involved two beers—Epic Armageddon and Hallertau Humulus Lupulus Maximus. But this year, neither beer was present. Instead, the competition was opened up to all breweries to make their own interpretation of a West Coast IPA and the entries were judged by a panel of beer aficionados to quell any arguments about which took top honours.

By far the largest challenge yet, this year eight beers competed for hoppy glory. I showed up bright and early to find my own champion by sampling everything on offer. I rated the beers on two scales—the ‘how much I like it’ scale and the ‘how close I think it is to style (West Coast IPA)’ scale.

Epic Hop Zombie IIPA(8.5%)—Batch two of this fruity imperial IPA has just a touch more bitterness, making it far more IPA-ish than the first. Like: 8.5/10 Style: 8.75/10

Hallertau Stuntman IIPA (9%) was possibly the first imperial IPA made with solely New Zealand grown hops, and this latest batch shows those off excessively. When used in huge quantities, New Zealand hops give a ‘funk’ which I can only compare to armpit sweat—but fruity. The beer hides its alcohol well with a huge sweet body, while the funky hops balance it nicely.
Like: 7/10 Style: 8/10

8 Wired make possibly the most successful IPA in the country, but surprisingly they’ve never gone imperial with one—until now. Launched on the night was 8 Wired Superconductor IIPA (8.8%), with 80 per cent more hops than Hopwired. Superconductor shows off big, grassy, passionfruit hop aromas and flavours, with a hint of good ol’ funk. Like: 8/10 Style: 8/10

Local pants and shoes enthusiasts Yeastie Boys were there this year with the Warriors. Not the league team, but two massively hopped IPAs, each showing off hops from a specific region. Yakima Warrior (7%) is hopped using only varieties grown in Yakima, Washington. In true west coast IPA style the big tropical hops are pulled back into a black hole of bitterness. Like: 6.5/10 Style: 8.5/10

Motueka Warrior (7%) showcases hops grown in Motueka, near Nelson. To me this Warrior tasted very similar to an American IPA made by Green Flash named ‘West Coast IPA’—dry and bitter as hell. A true palate wrecker. Like: 6/10 Style: 9/10

Moa went a completely different route with McMoa (aka Jean Claude Hop Damn) (10.4%), an esoteric IIPA made with a Belgian Yeast. This was actually the judges’ pick and it won the WCIPA challenge trophy: The Golden Gumboots. But I wonder how a Belgian IPA wins a West Coast IPA competition? Yeast is prominent in the aromas and flavours here, with banana dominating and big hops on the finish. Like: 8/10 Style: 1/10

My winner on the night was also the most insane, a collaboration between Epic, Hallertau and Liberty—The Four Horsemen of the Hopocalypse IIPA (10%). This beer injects hops into your olfactory—there is a massive, overripe fruit bowl going on here. Somehow, this ridiculous beer manages to remain balanced and drinkable. It shouldn’t work but it goddamn does. Like: 9/10 Style: 7/10

Some of these beers will still be flowing at The Malthouse, and will be popping up at other good beer bars around Wellington in the coming weeks and months. Get some. *
If you have any questions about this week’s beers or any comments, please contact me at or Tweet at me @davethebeerguy


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Comments (3)

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  1. Mark says:

    there were some good brews on show and no mistake.
    the hop zombie and motueka warrior were my personal favourites on the night.

    good write-up dude.

  2. Axel says:

    Type here…

  3. Axel says:

    Nice commentary, I can’t believe I didn’t get involved on this.
    Pretty much all are favourite beers here :)

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