During the last few days, while 'A Swift One' has been resting because of the weather and in respect for Charlie, several beers have appeared in Huddersfield, which again have showcased what skillful brewers can do with hops.
Mallinsons 'Castle Hill Premium' has appeared on the bar at the Sportsman, and is to come soon at the Star. It is loosely based on 'Gator' but is, in my opinion, better balanced and is full of hop character, and weighs in at 4.6%. It is to be one of the breweries regular beers, along with 'Emley Moor Mild' ,'Stadium' and 'Station' bitters and is the last piece of the brewery's jigsaw. It is well worth searching out.
If you happen to be searching it out in the Star in the next day or so, you may be lucky to find Steel City brewery's ' Worcestershire Sourced'. This is again a 4.6% beer, brewed in Sheffield by Dave Unpronouncable and Gazza who are not afraid to use the odd hop or ten in their beers. This time the hops are English, and are from Worcestershire. But they are 'Brewers Gold', (sorry, Cascade, see comment 1) which are usually associated with the Mount Hood hop fields of the USA.
This time they taste totally different, with a hoppy astringency not found in their American, and sometimes New Zealand, namesakes, making a beer which is not for the faint hearted, but which is a wonderful showcase for a new hop. It does not have the earthiness that I associate with English hops and shows what can be done with brewers unafraid to try out a new product.
The same is true of 'Rakau', the new Thornbridge offering on the bar at The Grove. This is another new New Zealand hop, to join the ranks of Nelson Sauvin, Mortueka and Riwaka. In my opinion it is a good, but not yet great beer, the hops being less aggressive than some of us associate with beers brewed with hops from this country. As a single hop variety it seems to lack something, and may be better used in conjunction with another hop, time will tell. Nevertheless, it is worth hunting out and trying.
Another brewery, unafraid to try out new things are Pictish, and it was their 'Rakau' in which I first came across the hop before Xmas. Reading in a Manchester Camra magazine,it seems that Richard, the brewer, is hoping to source some new American hop varieties this year to create more single hopped beers. I ,for one, cannot wait.