Beer O'Clock: Hoppy Pale Ales
Stu from SOBA continues his series on all the basic beer types worth drinking. This week, your Hoppy Pale Ales. . .
Hoppy pale ale is king in the craft beer market. Whether it be the wildly popular “hoppy” American pale ale (aka “APA”), or the more traditionally hopped English pale ale (aka “bitter”), pale ales are being hunted down all over the world by almost everyone who loves good beer. Which, if you're reading this, should mean you.
Those who know me tend to class me as a malt lover, but I do love hops too. These warm afternoons and coolish evenings are as good a time as any to drink hoppy pale ales, so here are three local pale ales that I’m particularly digging right now:
- Mac’s Brewjolais is, by my reckoning, the best special release I’ve tasted in the last 18 months – from any brewery. Celebrating the late summer hop harvest, Brewjolais is quite different from most other beers in the fact that it uses fresh “green” hops straight from the vine (usually they are dried in kilns before being packed and shipped out to breweries). Mac’s release the beer every autumn and, while being slightly different each year, it has always been a hoppy pale ale. This year’s vintage is an in your face, but superbly balanced, showcase of Riwaka hops (the hop formerly known as Saaz D, and made famous by Emerson’s Pilsner). Get to your local Mac’s bar now and experience the difference.
- Emerson’s Falconer’s Rest, the latest from Emerson’s experimental “Brewer’s Reserve” range, is the most “English” of the three even though it uses no English ingredients (NZ malt and a combination of New Zealand and Slovenia grown ‘styrian golding’ hops). It’s firmly bitter with a nice base of caramelly malt and a good dose of old-fashioned marmalade in the hop flavour. The beer is very reminiscent of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord (Madonna’s favourite beer, for those who care) and hopsmackingly delicious! Get it in takeaway flagons at Regional Wines and Spirits now but, be warned, it is a very limited release. It’ll probably be on tap at Galbraith’s and a couple of the more well-known Christchurch beer bars soon (if not already).
- Epic Pale Ale is the most widely known of the three and, very importantly for all my hop loving brothers and sisters out there, it is available all-year around. An excellent example of the classic American Pale Ale it has a lean malt character, which allows the zingy citrus fruit hop flavour and aroma to play the lead role. It’s pale golden, hoppy, fresh and always excellent. Get it almost everywhere (alongside its new brother Epic Lager).
Other good pale ales on our shelves (if you can’t find the ones above): Tuatara IPA, Founder’s Fair Maiden, Emerson’s 1812, Croucher Pale Ale, Invercargill Stanley Green and Renaissance Perfection Pale Ale. Harder to get, unless you’re in Nelson, is Lighthouse Brewery’s wickedly named ‘Fug Nose’ (it’s full of ‘fuggles’ hops, for those not up to play with beer humour).
In a fortnight we’ll look at the American Ale category (within which the popular APA sits, alongside American-style Amber and Brown ales). After that we’ll be greeting winter with the warming ales and darker lagers of northern Europe.
Slainte mhath, Stu