Ok so, I took my annual vacation in September and headed off to the USA to visit friends and drink beers from more breweries than you can shake a stick at. I was particularly excited at heading down to Pittsburgh and to the East End Brewing Co. to try this year’s Harvest Special. Many years ago they had introduced me to green hopped beers (cones harvested from the bine and used immediately) and I was eager to come back here and try it at Uley Brewery. The green hop they collected this year was Cascade. Many English brewers would have wet themselves with joy at this opportunity and boy, the flavour packed somewhat of a kick, in fact, too much for my taste, but would definitely have worked had I been eating a vindaloo!
Anyway, I told you that to tell you this. Having been told that we could not have Jester hops this year on the grounds that the extreme weather conditions, especially the heat, had put back the harvest schedule, I returned home to the news that we would have Harlequin instead. This was great news for me as that is the hop I wanted to try in the first place having heard good things about it on the grapevine. (Shouldn’t that be the hopbine? – ed). Harlequin, along with Jester, Godiva and Olicana are part of the Charles Faram Hop Development Programme in an effort I’m sure to wrest British brewers away from their apparent infatuation with American hops.
And so, the day after arriving back, I was off to Faram’s in Worcestershire to pick up 10kg, of Harlequin. You’d be amazed at the aroma wafting from the back of the van into the cab as I drove back to the yard. Hop aromas are quite soporific so I had to take a break at Gloucester Services. Good excuse to get some excellent local produce from the shop.
I was up at 3am the following morning and brewing the Uley Bitter Harvest Special. The aromas were sensational. Five days later I was tasting it ‘raw’ (unfiltered and cloudy) before we barreled it up. Big, big hop flavour. More spicey than citrus and the high alpha acid content gave an intense flavour hit. Farams give the flavour profile characteristics as passion fruit, peach and pineapple. I’m not sure about that. One thing I do know is that British brewers should really take a closer look at these new English varieties. They are sensational if you like a ‘modern’ beer flavour, and let’s face it, many people do. One thing’s for sure, I reckon that this one will fly out of our cellar. So here we are at Uley Brewery embracing the 21st Century with traditionally produced English hops.
Ken Lush. Head Brewer.