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Too Craft or Not Too Craft?

Well folks, the recent NZ herald article ( has, as per usual in the beer scene, caused a little bit of carbonation. While i did take a bit of an exemption to the statement “A craft beer you can actually drink” i think most would agree due to the inference , that “Craft” beer is undrinkable or possibly more accurately described as unobtainable to certain palettes. Credit should sit where credit is due and if you like or dislike the beer then that is your valid opinion. This is the key guide that we use at the hopful thinkers while some may get into technical speak at the end of the day it is about if “you” like this beer. Now we come across some beers that very few of us would try again after first attempts but we do tend to revisit them a few months later (with an open mind) and find that our palettes evolve and pick up slightly more distinct flavors or appreciate the stronger ones, but we only get there because of the other beers that we try.So I think it is excellent that Lion are making an attempt to make beer that is “craft” with broader flavors and complexity of palette that isn’t too off putting, who know’s in 3 years time people may be asking for lion red to have more hops with a stronger malt character (next tui billboard??)Lastly i would like to say that, I find the gross generalisations about so called “beer snobs” slightly rude. However i do know there are some people out there that may/do behave in these manners and this does cast dispersion’s on other people who are out for the enjoyment of beer. The hopful thinkers are one of a few groups out there (and growing) that are started by a group of friends and gain more friends (some people call them members) in the pursuit of learning about beer but to actually drink it in enjoyable company.I would like to put an invite to Danny Phillips, for him and one or more of his 9 brewers to come along to a hopful thinkers meet, like some other beer makers have done, and engage with people who are looking for tasty beers, and perhaps even bring some of that award winning beer to share and discuss. We’d love to converse about the different facets that were considered when you conceived your beer recipe.

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Brewery Spotlight: the Coromanel Brewing Company


Nestled in the natural beauty that is the Coromandel Peninsula, just a few short hours drive from Auckland, there is a brewery known simply as the Coromandel Brewing Company. Neil Vowles has been brewing beer since his student days.  In the 80’s good beer in the UK was hard to come by; this combined with a student budget made brewing his own an attractive option.  His passion for brewing carried on as a hobby until moving to the Coromandel in 2008, and finding a lack of craft beers in the area.  The solution was obvious – start a small brewery and fill the void!

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Pink Elephant Golden Tusk Special



7.0ABV, 330ml glass bottle, Blenheim NZ, purchased from New World Birkenhead

Sweet toffee on the nose, turning to a malty, bitter toffee on the palate. The Golden Tusk Special comes across as a traditional british ale in similar style to Old Speckled Hen and it’s ilk.

Despite the 7% heft, the alcohol is barely detectable and this is supremely easy to enjoy.

Recommended session beer, at least, if you’re in the mood for a big night!

Epic Larger


Tigers. Balls of Twine. Pyramids. Waimea Bay Waves, Ohakune Carrots. Some things are meant to be big. Not least the Imperial Pilsener we’ve all been waiting for. Well, at least we have been here at the Hopful Thinkers. The beer we are talking about is of course, Epic Larger.

We were fortunate enough to score a couple from the lads at Epic for a wee taster. Far be it from us to refuse. So here we go.

Light in colour; white head dissipates to a lasting lace, nose reveals a fruity bouquet, smooth and wet mouthfeel, stalky red grapes, sherbety tang and a shitload of potential… The slightly bitter finish rounds it out nicely.

If you’d not read the bottle, you would have no clue it was hiding 8.5% of alcohol, I must say Larger sure goes down easy.

This is an absolutely superb example of a Pilsener. I can’t wait until it’s had a couple of weeks to open up and reveal its true colours, it’s damn good already!

For sure this will be my boozy summer afternoon beer of choice…

The Master Chef’s 3 Part Brewery Tour, Part 1 – Queenstown and Arrowtown

A few months ago, my better and more beautiful half Michele and I (the Master Chef) were down in Queenstown on a short break.  Michele was working so I had time to find some craft beer places and try them out.

Taps at the Dux de Lux... which to have!?

I arrived early in the morning and by the time I had found Michele and checked in at the hotel it was about 11 and I needed a drink.  I found myself at the Dux de Lux.  I had just missed the head brewer by one day, so I couldn’t have a look out the back, but it was nice to have a beer at 11am and txt all the boys and mock them while they were meant to be working.
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The Master Chef has been internalising a complicated situation in his head! (Epic Stout Brownies)

Epic Thornbridge Stout Choc Brownies


So a couple of weeks ago, instead of our normal meet, we were treated with a road trip to Epic HQ in Mt Wellington.

As the Master Chef, I needed to to stop and think of what to bring.  So I sat down to “PUZZLE Time” and internalised a complicated situation in my head…  After some time I figured that ghost chips weren’t going to cut the mustard 😛

I came up with “Epic Choc Brownies”

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