Sour and hoppy beer thrills

Thrill seekers move to sour beer, but hops remain the main game

My Sydney beer spy, Mr Malty, notes a trend among the city’s manliest drinkers away from hops and bitterness towards mouth-puckering sour beers, such as Boon Marriage Parfait.

However, sour beers remain on the fringe for the moment and pose no near-term threat to the hops hegemony. Indeed, the growing obsession with very hoppy beers – and the search for increasingly bitter experiences – raises the question, are hops addictive?

In a Radio Brew News interview, Professor Charlie Bamforth suggested hops were habit forming rather than addictive. He noted his own increased tolerance for the uber hoppy and said, “If the word is not addictive, it is certainly pleasurable and calming”.

At Popular Science, Martha Harbison concluded there is no addiction. Hops can be removed from a diet with no withdrawal symptoms, and the bittering compounds (humulones) don’t affect the brain as addictive compounds do.

Beer reviews

Petrus Dubbel Bruin (Belgium) 330ml $5.35
The label depicts St Peter with keys, and carries the slogan “The key to heaven”. Certainly it’s the key to pleasure: deep, glowing brown colour, topped with vigorous foam; aromas of caramel, dried fruits and spice; and a juicy, smooth, warming palate reflecting all of the above. What a satisfying winter beer it is.

Pikes Oakbank Sparkling Ale (Clare Valley) 375ml $3.50
A golden rule in retailing is stock rotation. Stale stock isn’t good for the consumer, the retailer or the producer. But here we have it, a potentially very good beer from the Pike family’s Clare Valley brewery, bought in a Canberra retail outlet. It’s weeks past its best-by date and looking very sad indeed: flat, flabby just drinkable.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2016
First published 11 May 2016 in the Canberra Times