Chuck Hahn and his James Squire team brewed their first Hop Thief Ale shortly after the hop harvest in 2006. For that brew, says Chuck, they used carefully selected new hop varieties from New Zealand.
In 2007, Chuck moved the focus to America, testing ten new varieties and selecting two for the brew that eventually made it to Australian retail shelves.
There was no 2008 Hop Thief. But it’s back this year as a rich, malty, complex ale, featuring hops from the first tangy-sweet sniff to the lingering bitter finish. And it achieves this without the resiny flavour build up that sometimes takes over hoppy beers.
Chuck used hop three varieties at different production stages. Pride of Ringwood and Galaxy, added to the kettle, drive the bitterness and passionfruit notes, says Chuck.
And late hopping with Southern Hallertau (a German Australian cross) boosted the aroma and liveliness of the flavour. For this final step in production the brewers passed the beer through a container of fresh hops – similar to Wig & Pen’s approach for its on-tap Hop Heads Ale.
We enjoy hops in beer all year, of course. But there’s a special freshness to these seasonal brews. And they’re best enjoyed as soon as they’re released.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009