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Wednesday, 08 November 2017 17:01

It’s not a trap – so many pale ales

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I write about beer a lot. For one non-Malty related publication, my last three column topics were sour beers, barrel-aged beers and then fruit beers. It is fair in the extreme to say those beer styles are not my favourites. Not even close.

This week, Ciaran, the gregarious, soulful and worldly Malthouse Unit Manager, instructed me to write about five pale ales for this blog. Obviously, I immediately feared a trap. Admiral Ackbar has taught me well and been a fine role model over many years. Would the specified beers be cucumber-infused pale ales or raspberry IPAs or some other nonsense on stilts?

Actually they turned out to be five beers that I would happily pay money to drink. [1] In fact, I have done on a number of occasions and intend to do so again. I got incredibly thirsty just reading the list. Here are the beers:

8 Wired Hopwired (7.3%) – This is from the New Zealand Champion Brewery of 2011 which is now located in much bigger premises in Warkworth (north of Auckland). I have adored Hopwired since about seven seconds after it was launched. However, I am yet to better my March 2016 description of this beer.

“If you are unaware that I’m a huge fan of 8 Wired Hopwired IPA then, quite frankly, you have not been paying attention. At around 70 IBUs, it is a deceptively drinkable celebration of Kiwi hops (Southern Cross, Motueka and Nelson Sauvin) with a solid malt base supporting a veritable pyramid of hoppy goodness (grapefruit, resin, pine, passionfruit and fruit salad). I believe the technical term is “omnomnom.”

8 Wired Super Dank (6.2%) - To describe a beer as “dank” seems to be officially becoming a hip thing. According to the dictionary dank means “unpleasantly cold and clammy”. That is not very appetising. According to the Urban Dictionary it is “also an expression frequently used by stoners and hippies for something of high quality.”

This blog is an honest blog and the “something” in question here is obviously marijuana. Hops are in fact a cousin of cannabis and “dank” has become somewhat of a fashionable descriptor for exceptionally hoppy beers. [2] I guess dank is probably catchier than “smells like Otto’s jacket” but the intent is similar.

Super Dank is a slightly hazy amber beer with a firm head. It is nicely bitter with notes of citrus, pine, caramel, caramel and (appropriately in this context) resin and grass. I am expecting the Police around at any moment.

Behemoth Murica (6%) – We move from the Police to the World Police. This is an unabashedly American inspired brew from the self-styled beer giraffe Andrew Childs. He says it tastes like “freedom and loose gun laws”. Others have given it medals in beer contests. I have given it some of my hard earned cash, including for drinking while watching the American election. [3]

The generous use of US Columbus, Centennial, Zythos and Amarillo hops produces a beer bursting with grapefruit, pine, orange and grass. This beer is far more popular than the 45th President of the United States

Behemoth Timber IPA (6.2%) – This is a new addition to the Behemoth range. I know this because I have not tried it and I try all the Behemoth beers that do not have peaches in them. It is a strong IPA with powerful notes of grapefruit and pine needles, followed by a lingering bitter finish. The brewer actually describes it as like “falling pine onto a grapefruit truck”. While not convinced that he has ever witnessed such as incident, it is a great description.

Fork Brewing Flower Arranger (6.5%) – Often with beer descriptions you have to stretch out material and research. This is not one of those beers. Here, I have had to severely edit the words of Kelly Ryan from Fork Brewery (the brewing arm of the Fork & Brewer). I described this West Coast IPA as having "excellent balance" and a "firm mouthfeel". Edited Kelly said:

"I like drinking IPAs with quite a lean malt backbone... I blended together a mixture of New Zealand Pilsner, Ale and Wheat malts as the basis of The Flower Arranger - something that would allow the hop combination to shine yet also give the beer balance.

The American Crystal hop is one of my favourites. German Hallertau parentage, a decent whack of essential oil and its incredible aromatics of spicy sandalwood, lemon and mandarin peels make this a great addition.

I used this for bittering and aroma; it's very low in cohumulone, making it nice and smooth and not too harsh in the back palate and it's also low in alpha acids - they're the ones that change shape in the kettle (isomerise) to create perceivable bitter compounds. [4]

Centennial, the classic 'Super-Cascade' with its big grapefruit and floral notes, Amarillo, with its mango and orange elements and finally, my favourite hop of the moment, Mosaic, the Simcoe derived super-hop that offers major complexity; I get passionfruit and raspberry and a little pine forest all in one.

 

I wanted to get that good combination of fruit and classic citrus/pine American hop character - but most of all I wanted drinkability. A little dryness in the finish, a nice late bitterness. Hopefully, I've arranged that!"

I see what you did there at the last minute Kel. It is a beautiful beer and has been highly placed at the Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge.

Next time, we drink to sloths because they are awesome.

 

[1] I’d also even happily drink them for free but this does not happen nearly as often as I would like.

[2] Some beers are so dank that they allegedly should have alligators in them...

[3] There was not enough beer for witnessing that result.

[4] These are all technical brewing terms meaning “delicious”.

 

Cheers

 

Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine

DrinksBiz Magazine

 

Links

 

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Last modified on Wednesday, 08 November 2017 17:01