It is a wonderful time of year here in the Northern Hemisphere for beer lovers such as ourselves for now is the time for the annual harvest of hops; those little green nuggets of joy. My Instagram feed has been swamped with beautiful images of hop bines (definitely not vines) standing at their full glory, being picked and then the individual hop cones being processed ready to give their all in a beer in the coming year.
Let me count the way hops and the use of them impact your beer:
Hops are a natural preservative that help extend the life of beer, in fact while the majority of brewers use hops which have been vacuum packed and most likely cold stored to maintain their essential oils Belgian Lambic brewers use aged hops as they don’t want the flavours and aromas of hops in their beer, just their preservative qualities.
Hops give beer its bitterness, that sensation that can either be a gentle dance in your mouth to a full on assault on the senses. Without bitterness beer would be almost sickly sweet from the malt, bitterness balances this out.
If you ever get the chance crash a hop cone or hop pellet between your palms and then rub them together briefly. Cup your hands and breathe in deep, depending on the variety the aroma could be citrussy, piney, spicy, floral, herby woody, earthy and so on and it is these aromas that are the building blocks of the flavour you get upon a sip, just try sipping a beer while holding your nose and you will see how big a part aroma plays in the enjoyment of beer (and anything else you drink or eat for that matter)
The essential oils that give beer aroma also contribute to what we taste, forget those lovely citrus or tropical flavours we love so much if we didn’t have hops.
By the way a prize (Of what I haven’t decided yet) goes to the first person who correctly identifies the variety of hop in the photo above. I will only accept answers in person so come in tonight, have a guess and get a beer while you are at it. I will give one hint which is that this isn’t your normal hop……..and I might be having fun.
Dark Star Hopfest 2018
Now if all that talk of hops has whetted your appetite and perhaps you are thinking ‘Just imagine if there was a festival of hops where I could go and try a lot of lovely, lovely beer, some even brewed with this seasons hops?’ Well guess what? you would be in luck as next weekend is Dark Star’s annual Hopfest, a celebration of beer held at the brewery in Partridge Green (Not Chiswick). There is plenty of beer, music and food and all the proceeds go to the Dark Star Foundation charity so you can eat, drink, and be merry all for a good cause. Head here for all the details.
Ruth is away currently and is unable to check this email (as she normally does) for my inevitable typos and pour grammar (Ha ha). So as usual any bad use of the English language or grammatical errors are mine and mine alone. There are sadly NO prizes for pointing them out to me.
Behemoth Brewing Company Hopped Up On Pils 5%
European tradition meets New Zealand ingredients in this NZ style Pils from Behemoth, a Kiwi brewer who have started to export to the UK. Clean and crisp as you would imagine but with a zesty citrus bite thanks to the sticky, pungent Nelson hops in the brew. A welcome taste of home.
Wylam Fruits of Perception 5.8%
It has been a bit quiet on the Wylam front lately so it is with excitement that we snared a case of this kettle sour which has had kiwifruit, cucumber and melon added to it. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet but from what I have read expect a bit of funk, refreshment from the fruits and vegetable and a touch a sourness.
Boundary Mutual Feelings 7.4%
Followers of our social media would have seen as extolling the virtues of this beer late last week and to ensure no one misses out I want to revisit it here. For their third birthday Boundary have got together with some of their friends (Deya, Verdant, Odyssey, Northern Monk, Track) and brewed Mutual Feelings a ‘Imperial Oatmeal Pecan Vanilla Cookie Milk Stout’ and take it from me it is absolutely epic. Rich with the flavours of vanilla, pecan and raisin all wrapped up in a creamy and smooth body courtesy of added lactose. This really is a contender for beer of the year and a couple of cans have been squirreled away in the coolroom ready for Christmas.
Mike and Ruth