Tuesday, November 23, 2010

CT Column 29/09/2010 :Prodigal son returns

BACK in May I wrote about attending a tasting at The Malthouse hosted by Kelly Ryan, the New Zealand brewer at Thornbridge - one of England’s most exciting breweries. Thornbridge Brewery produces an exciting and varied range of beers including three, which are now available here.
Jaipur is a pale golden India Pale Ale that offers up an aroma of light mandarin-like hop with a hint of spicy vanilla. The beer has a rich, moderately sweet malt backbone that supports a range of spicy citrus hop flavour and a dry finish. Jaipur is the breweries’ flagship, quite remarkable considering it weighs in at 5.9 percent in a country where 4 percent is the norm. Halcyon is a stronger take on the India Pale Ale style that uses green un-kilned hops much like Mac’s Brewjolais did. Green hopped beers usually come from the new world and accordingly they usually use American or New Zealand hops. Naturally the Thornbridge team used English hops. Target hops from Mr Capper’s Herefordshire farm were overnight couriered up to the Thornbridge brewery in Derbyshire where they were used to hop the beer in the conditioning tank. The target hops give Halcyon a distinctive pineapple aroma that gives way to a slightly piney, tangy tropical fruit-laced palate and a long, smooth and expertly balanced finish.
The last of the three beers to make it down under is St Petersburg, Thornbridge’s take on the Imperial Stout style. At 7.7 percent, St Petersburg is relatively modest in alcohol for the Imperial Stout style that more often covers the 10 to 12 percent range. But as Ryan points out, the brewery sells most of this beer on tap in a country where people drink beer by the pint and 7.7 percent is about as high as they feel they can make it. St Petersburg offers up a hint of bubblegum fruitiness, a leathery note and some nice chocolate caramel aroma before giving way to a rich chocolate toffee palate. All three beers are available from The Malthouse and from Regional Wines and Spirits.
Last week Ryan announced that he is going to return to New Zealand to live and hopefully to brew, having been away since 2002. This is no doubt great news for his family but it’s also fantastic news for New Zealand beer drinkers as his skills may soon be producing something special to fill our glasses.

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