Hop to it Boys.
A recent visit to Kirkstall Brewery got me thinking about the change in our taste for beer and more specifically the massive change in flavour profile we've been accustomed to through the use of non native Hops. There was a stack of newly delivered boxes containing no less than eight varieties of Hops which Dave would be using in his excellent beers. Varieties that a few years ago many of us would probably not have heard of; Mounthood, Simcoe, Citra, Apollo, Marynka, Cascade, Dana...
To me, it seems that the biggest change for beer drinkers in the last twenty years or so has been in the choice of Hops used in our beers. Having been a Real Ale drinker before CAMRA was formed I drank what some now dismissively call 'Brown Beer', beers from Local Breweries like Robinsons, Holts, Hydes and Wilsons. Those brewers used British Hops like Goldings, Fuggles, Northern Brewer and Bramling Cross and it is fairly evident that those Hops are no longer the choice of the new breed of Brewer.
We've undergone a revolution and it's not all down to American Brewers as some seem to believe. Brendan Dobbin and Sean Franklin were the pioneers in using American Hops in the early 90's. Their inspiration was in the use of the new 'exotic' Hops as an alternative to the traditional Hops to achieve a well balanced beer that offered something new. Brendan's West Coast Brewing produced one of those beers that just made you sit up and take notice. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale/Yakima Grande brought those wonderful new Hop flavours we've become familiar with to our notice. And Rooster's Yankee again opened our eyes and tickled our tastebuds with the fresh taste Cascade.
Yet it took quite a few more years before the UK Hop revolution took off, in the mid 90's, encouraged by Michael Jackson Bières Sans Frontières started to bring Cask Conditioned Ales over from America for GBBF (the first was brought over as 'luggage' by the late BertGrant) and the Brewers came over as well to see what was happening, Pete Schlosberg, Garrett Oliver and the late Jeff Charnick were all regular visitors. For the first time we were getting the chance to try the new beers that were putting America Brewing clearly on the UK beer drinkers map. Big IPA's, full bodied Stouts and everywhere Hops and more Hops. Visitors to GBBF had found something that excited them, and as American beers became more easily available and beer lovers were planning holidays around beer a new market emerged in the UK. A move away from traditional UK Hops to the increasingly available American Hops.
But, much as I love the flavours of American Hops I have to admit that I miss the UK Hop. I know they're still there, where they've always been, where they always will as long as our long established Breweries continue to produce excellent beers. What I'd like to see, what I'd like to taste is what some of the newer Breweries, who it seems almost exclusively use American or New Zealand Hops, can do with UK Hops. Is it possible for Magic Rock to make a new beer using Bramling Cross, can Kernel do something exciting with Northern Brewer, can Thornbridge turn Challenger into next years trendy Hop? It's not a case of sentimentality but a desire to see these Brewers step outside their comfort zone, it's often a criticism levelled at the Big Brewers, that they don't step out of their comfort zone. But with the installation of an increasing number of 'Pilot Plants', see Pete's recent Blog , it appears they are taking that step. Fuller's have just released their Wild River American Beer and John has brewed a couple of collaboration brews.
So let's see some new English Beers with English Hops lads, I know you can do it.
And now for Part 4 of name the Brewer. Here's someone who has brewed his fair share of beer.
Which Brewer do you admire...?
Favourite British Brewery...?
Favourite overseas Brewery...?
What's the next big thing...?
England winning the Webb Ellis trophy
If you weren't a brewer you'd be a...?
Does consistency of flavour matter...?
Too right it does
Michael Jackson always denied that he had a favourite beer, but said if you asked him wha8 his final beer would be as he faced the firing squad it would be...?
And what would your final beer be...?
If it were possible, which Brewery/Brewer would you consider doing a collaboration beer with...?
If you were to give one piece of advice to an aspiring Brewer it would be...?
do it your way
And a few more personal questions;
What do you do to relax...?
cooking, squash, pub
TV,Concert or Theatre...?
Favourite holiday destination...?
Get a free beer from me at GBBF for the first correct answer.