Many folk might think that the trend for citrus flavoured beers made with high alpha American hop varieties is a new thing as there has been a veritable explosion of this beer type in recent years. Indeed, I’ve been into pubs with 5 hand pumps or more and every one has had a beer with cascade or citra hops in it and all tasting to a variable degree of grapefruit juice – and some even looking like it. It’s called more choice. Well, back in the mid 1990’s at our local, The Old Crown, Uley we were able to drink cascade hopped beers courtesy of the very fine Durham Brewery in an informal exchange programme where we sent Uley beers
to the Fox and Goose in Yorkshire and they sent Durham beers down to us in Uley. And very fine they were too. White Sapphire was a personal favourite. I never dreamed that this flavour profile would, years later, become the norm as brewers make beer ever ‘hotter’ in a desire to re-invent the wheel.
Told you that to tell you this. We too wanted to make a beer using cascade hops but using a more balanced approach where the flavours would be subtle rather than an in-your-face citrus hit that would assault the mouth and leave a taste that you couldn’t get rid of for hours. Our first attempt was a beer called ‘Prairie Hog’ (don’t ask!). It turned out pretty good but would be impossible to recreate because we had a power cut at the brewery shortly after starting the pump through. So in the end this part of the process took 9 hours rather than the usual one and a half. As it was, ‘Prairie Hog’ became the exclusive house brew for that summer as Sandra, the landlady bought the entire brew.
The following Spring we had another pop at a seasonal special. This time I had the idea of augmenting the predominate Cascade aroma hop with a little Bramling Cross – my personal favourite English exotic. And thus Gilt Edge was born. Mixing Cascade with Bramling Cross gave the flavour a hint of elderflower – even though there is no elderflower in it. For me, I had achieved what I set out to do: create a refreshing premium beer with a shed load of Cascade in it that sits pleasantly on the palate rather than mugging your taste buds when you drink it.
It’s a great beer to brew. The fragrance when hopping with the ‘exotics’ (which this year also included Slovenian Aurora instead of Styrian Goldings) was nothing short of aromatic heaven.
This year’s brew has a more robust bitterness backed with a glorious residual sweetness. People say “It’s a Lush drop”!