I’ve said some nasty things about Epic in the past, so in credit-where-due spirit, Mayhem is awesome. It’s one of a few variant editions of the Epic Pale, and addresses all of that beer’s shortcomings nicely. It’s vastly maltier and ‘beerier’ in the body (and a bit boozier too, as a result) and is thereby much better balanced. But it’s still astonishingly hoppy and aromatic, with New Zealand-developed Riwaka hops in there alongside the usual American Cascade — so the big hop notes aren’t just striking in one place like they do in the Pale. To re-purpose Epic’s particularly-stupid marketing phrase, this really Just Tastes Bigger, in all directions, and is vastly better for it. But more importantly than merely being “better” than the Pale Ale, this is, on its own merits, bloody lovely.
Afterthoughts, February 2011: I remember liking liking this, if you follow what I mean. I really grumped about the Pale Ale, partially because it was so absurdly popular — hailed as the best-ever by any number of otherwise-plausible people, when I thought the most you could say in its favour was that it was a well-made example of that intentionally off-kilter hop-nonsensed sort of beer. Stunt beer. Boy racer beer, as my colleague Ben used to say. It wasn’t badly made, it was just boringly flashy and it mystified me that so many people had it as their standby everday ‘session’ beer. I like those beers sometimes, but worried about how, if you drank it all the time, your tastebuds must resemble an apocalyptic wasteland — and whether that was the cause of the Epic-sessioning, or its effect.
In fairness, Epic Pale has massively improved. There was one horror-batch as the malt in the recipe was changed around in Luke’s absence, but after that things stabilised nicely and the beer became considerably more drinkable, I thought. If anything, now the real irony is that Tuatara’s APA — designed fairly shamelessly as a bandwagoning local-sales-stealer — is just that bit better yet; it’s certainly less one-note and more balanced. Epic Pale was necessary to push people in this hoppy direction, but is now in danger of watching its students become its master, perhaps.
Verbatim: Epic Mayhem 19/2/09 380ml 6.5% $9 @ Malty. After nasty words about the Pale, this is great. Much maltier underneath and with the passionfruity Riwaka hop alongside the US Cascade. So deeper and wider. Actually balanced, still remarkably hoppy. Altogether very good.