... then take a trip to The Grove. Yesterday it proved to be a real Mecca for the hop enthusiast - trouble was you had to like you beers strong as well. It was pointless trying to work out a beer of the day, but if you're willing to go strong, you will be rewarded with some real classics.
Starting with the weakest first, Durham provided 'On The Hop' which came in at a sensible 4.2%, and proved that the brewery has not lost its knack of making quaffable, light beers. This was just as one would expect from them, rounded, clean and with a hoppy kick. Nothing too excessive, but a decent beer from a good brewery.
Then it started to get a bit silly. Next up was Oakleaf 'IPA' which was 5.5%. The increase in strength was more than matched by the increase in hoppiness and bitterness and was close to what, in my opinion, a true IPA should taste like. Not a 3.9% watered down version but a beer that deserved respect. Could anything else on the bar match this ?
Well, yes and no. The next up in strength was Thornbridge 'Halcyon' at 7.7% making a reappearance at the pub after a month or so. Again we were rewarded with a beer of great hop flavour, and full of interesting fruit background with grapefruit and mango to to the fore. Incidentally I never saw the pump clip so I am unsure if this is 'Halcyon' or the 2009 'Green Hop Halcyon' .
By now, strength was no problem and to finish (me) off was Dark Star, 'Tripel' at a mere 8%. I don't know how they do it, but like Thornbridge, every Dark Star beer seems to be to my taste and this was no exception. It was a great take on a Belgian Tripel and full of resinous hop flavours and I assume brewed with a Belgian yeast to give an authentic flavour. Another great beer. (I left the Brewdog 'Punk IPA', not exactly shy on the hop front, and Thornbridge 'Jaipur' with its wonderful array of hop flavours for another day!)
So, if you are a hop monster, may be its time to pitch a tent in the beer garden at The Grove and get stuck in while you can.