Sceptred Warrior is Victor

So Sceptred Warrior is a champ. Sceptred was entered into the Malthouse Old World IPA challenge on a whim. Serendipitously the Malthouse announced that they were going to run an Old World counterpart to their hugely successful West Coast IPA Challenge just after Sceptred was going to be ready to hit the taps. After some string pulling and favour asking, I ended up managing to borrow a firkin from Townshend Brewing Co main man Martin Townshend and a cask tap from the Garage Project allowing Sceptred to be cask conditioned and poured straight from the barrel. The beer was judged by the panel of judges the morning of the event. The competition was stiff with entries from local brewer The Garage Project, Marlborough’s Moa, Hamilton’s Good George, cask beer specialist Townshend Brewing Co, Auckland’s Epic Brewing Co and Christchurch real ale brewer The Twisted Hop . My partner Sarah and myself arrived early and enjoyed a few pints of the assorted entries. It was my first chance to taste Sceptred since I left it on day 2 of fermentation a month earlier. The beer was made for cask, lush rich malt, marmalade esters, spicy citrus hop character and a hint of mushroomy earthy English hop all combined perfectly, if I do say so myself it was a cracking pint. One point of interest was that the beer out of Liberty was much darker and more malt accented than the beer from my brewery. A lot of kettle caramelisation. After a few pints suddenly we found ourselves present at the moment of truth. Unlike the West Coast Challenge where there is an announcement and a trophy in the form of a pair of gumboots painted gold the Old World Challenge was a tad more low key. The brewers present got a tap on the shoulder, the final placing had Sceptred first, Garage Project Caledonia Uber Alles second and Moa Five Hop Special in third. The judges described Sceptred as being
“a big British IPA” with a nose reminiscent of“tangerines on steroids.”    Notes of “proper English marmalade” were enjoyed, as was the “bitter, astringent, cleansing finish.” While the Sceptred Warrior was “clearly strong”, it was also “hugely drinkable.”
So a pretty good night for Southstar. We had a pint or so to celebrate and then it was home for a cup of tea, we know how to party.
Since then a keg of Sceptred has graced the taps at Regional alongside its challenger Pacific Warrior. In keg the earthy hop character is much more prominent with notes of camembert cheese and mushroom making the beer striking to say the least. One punter tasting it compared it to Yeastie Boy’s Rex Attitude in terms of intensity. The other keg for Regional has been put aside to age. There is still another firkin waiting to go on at Galbraith’s Ale House, it will be interesting to hear how it tastes.
As for the challenge with Pacific Warrior well the public vote was probably always going to go for the fruity new world hopped (and more conventional) version, Jo’s contender was of course a cracking beer. There were however a pleasing number of punters who leaned the other way. I loved it from the cask, it will be interesting to see how the keg ages.
Finally a huge thanks to Ryan McArthur who designed the gloriously Dr Who tinged tap badge above and to Dave Batt who did the initial brand design, who could resist the three Winstons? Cheers.

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