Søren Eriksen’s is the dream career path – home brewer, brewer’s assistant, contract brewing, win national poker champs twice, win Champion Brewery Award, open you own brewery.
Then last winter the dream turned into a nightmare when a boilover left a staff member and a contract brewer hospitalised with serious scalds.
Since then the industry has reviewed safety processes and 8 Wired’s output and creativity have continued to increase.
Søren took up home brewing in 2006 when he was living in Fremantle, Perth.
“My wife got me a little home brew kit with malt extract and dry yeast. That morphed into a serious hobby and eventually the hobby took over. I’d just finished my degree and I pretty much knew I didn’t want to be a biochemist for life so it was time to see what else I could do.”
Søren’s first commercial brewing experience came at Renaissance Brewing in Blenheim. “It was only supposed to be for three months but I ended up staying for five years.”
Once he had picked up some technical experience he started brewing his own range under the 8 Wired label, using Renaissance’s spare capacity.
“I brewed my first batch in October ’09. We’ve been contract brewing in four different places and now we have our own premises (in Warkworth, North Auckland). We’re probably brewing somewhere between 4 and 500,000L a year. We're not massive by any means but we’re not small anymore.”
“I wouldn’t say we have a style you could recognise every 8 Wired beer on. We do make a lot of IPAs and we make a lot of sour beers and these are the two main things we do. And there’s variations within that. We do the barrel-aged, funky sour stuff and we do a lot of clean kettle souring as well.”
Søren says he’s seen a trend towards balance and drinkability in both IPAs and sour styles.
“On the IPA side of things the IBU is definitely going down and the fruitiness going up. It would be very, very easy to make a beer super sour, but it’s a matter of finding balance, and when you get that balance it does become very drinkable.
“I can’t remember the last time I had a bad sour beer. People must be being careful about what they are releasing – if you’ve been keeping it for a year or two there’s no rush in getting it out.”
Check out 8 Wired here