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October 10, 2011 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Beer Will Be Beer – Fuck Yeah

Some of you may have read in the Dom Post about a severe shortage of hops emerging in the great nation of the United States of America. This comes at a terrible time for Wellingtonians who are just beginning to discover the magical flavours with which US-grown hops can imbue a beer.

Local breweries which have been showcasing these hops have had to disappoint customers, with the likes of Epic revealing that Hop Zombie will not return until possibly 2013, and Tuatara’s wildly successful APA (American Pale Ale) being switched to Aotearoa Pale Ale.

After a lower than normal yielding crop and the loss of several million dollars’ worth of hops in warehouse fires, American breweries began pre-purchasing hops before they’d been grown, reducing the volume available for export to near zero for the more popular varieties.

But if you’ve recently discovered the holy grail of beer that is the American hop, all is not lost. Happily, the US breweries which still have access to their locally grown crops, have recently seen increased distribution amongst Wellington beer bars.

Malthouse have acquired whole kegs of beautiful hoppy American IPA’s. Recently they had the hoppy grail that is Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA (7.5%) flowing, which showed IPA can still be shipped across the world and taste great—as it was originally designed to do. While some slight oxidation was present, the rich malt and massive hop character greatly outweighed this. For the quarter finals this weekend, Malty is putting on Brewdog Hardcore IPA, which may be Scottish but contains no less than three US hop varieties, so get in there and get some while you can.

The west coast of the states is most famous for making hop-focussed beers, so much to the point where a style of IPA has been named after it. Among one of the many beers imported from the states by local beer bar Hashigo Zake is Green Flash West Coast IPA (7.3%) from San Diego. It’s straight to the point in its naming and also its flavour: this one’s all about the hops. Intense grassy hops hit your nose before your tongue is assaulted by 95IBU of bitterness (that’s a lot), balanced slightly by a fruity hop twang.

If big bitterness and intense flavours aren’t your thing, try a Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA (7%), this one’s got balance down pat. You’ll get the tropical fruit bark, but there’s no bite here. A wonderfully rich, biscuity malt tempers the huge amount of hops used, which make their presence known with a tropical fruit flavour which keeps you coming back. While these gems are imported by Hashigo Zake, they’ve found their way to The Hop Garden, Little Beer Quarter and Bar Edward in both bottle and tap form.

Well, that’s me for 2011. I hope I’ve helped someone out there achieve their beer epiphany leading them to the road of tasty beer goodness. If you’ve got any beery questions over the break feel free to tweet me @davethebeerguy.
Might see ya next year—stay beery Vic.


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