The event that gave us Epic Armageddon and Hallertau Maximus is spreading.
Colin Mallon, Malthouse Operations Guy and West Coast IPA Challenge organiser, says this year’s 9th Challenge will expand to Malthouse’s sister bar, Fork & Brewer on Bond Street, due to increasingly large crowds turning up to see who will win the coveted Golden Gumboots.
The annual event, taking place on Friday 29 July, sees brewers showcase their skills with hops by brewing West Coast IPAs, a notoriously popular and hoppy style of beer.
“It’s become such a big event on the calendar because of people’s ongoing and increasingly growing love affair with different beers“, Colin says.
“The event has raised awareness of the beer style, and the fun and anticipation leading up to, and on, the night definitely brings people in who necessarily wouldn’t class themselves as beer drinkers. You get hardcore beer drinkers bringing their friends, and before you know it, it widens the appeal.
“The last WCIPAC had Malthouse groaning at its seams. The event officially kicks off at 2pm, the bar will be wall-to-wall packed by 4:30pm, with queues out the door by 5pm, and the bar often remaining near capacity until 2am. We sell something in the region of about 40 kegs. It is a huge night for us!
“We were turning people away at the last few WCIPACs, so it made sense to release some of that pressure this year by making Fork & Brewer a co-host.”
Colin says Fork & Brewer was the natural choice to co-host the event. It’s Malthouse’s sister bar, and it’s the only place with enough taps to accommodate the 25 beers that will be showcased on the evening.
“Punters at Fork & Brewer need not fear for missing out on any of the beers, celebrations or announcements - all WCIPAC beers will be pouring on tap and announcements made at the same time as at Malthouse.”
The competition is also making its first foray to Australia with a line-up of WCIPAC beers being flown over the Tasman to feature in tap takeovers at The Local Taphouses in Melbourne and Sydney.
Originally created because July was Malthouse’s quietest month, WCIPAC started out with two entrants – Epic Brewing Co. and Hallertau Brewery – in a ‘mine’s hoppier than yours’ showdown. Epic’s entry was Armageddon, which went on to win awards in competitions around the world. Hallertau invented Maximus Humulus Lupulus, which has become a key brew in its ‘Heroic’ range.
“Back then the Wellington craft beer landscape was quite different – there was Malthouse, Bar Bodega and Bar Edward – and showcasing a specific style was quite unusual,” says Colin.
“Now the event showcases 25 beers, has 9-10 judges, some of whom are World Beer Cup judges, and breweries are contacting us to submit entries."
“It’s great when you see a brewery that hasn’t performed very well, and then come back and next year and they raise their game. Even if they don’t win it’s really great to see."
“The last thing I wanted this to be was something that was taken too seriously. We want to give brewers a bit of feedback on their entries, but at the end of the day, it is all about celebrating good beer with good people.”