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Tried and tasted
GAVIN AITCHISON suggests supping something new...
BREWERS love to experiment – and this is why we should let them! Some of my most enjoyable pints this year have come from a single well-structured series. And the great news is: it's set to continue into 2013.
Marston's Single Hop beers have been hitting pubs around the country since January, with a different one brought to the market each month. They have all been loosely-similar pale ales, all with an ABV of four per cent, but each one has been brewed using a different variety of hop.
The result has been fantastic. As well as enjoying some great ales, drinkers have been introduced to completely new flavours and have been able to identify and pinpoint the hops they themselves enjoy most, to help steer future choices.
York landlord Dave Roberts, of The Minster Inn in Marygate, says his regulars have enjoyed comparing and contrasting the differing flavours and says the series has also encouraged some more conservative drinkers to be a little more adventurous at the bar - always a welcome development.
"People have looked forward to the next one coming on each month and have been interested in them as beers," he says.
The November offering is Kohatu, the third in the series to come from New Zealand. The brewery's blurb promises "exotic fruit notes" and an "immensely refreshing" taste, and it has an enjoyable zing to it.
Its fellow Kiwi from January, Wai-iti, remains my own favourite so far but others have impressed along the way too. Last month's Citra from the USA went down a storm, while the man behind the ales - brewer Simon Yates - says the Australian Galaxy in February was the star-performer so far.
Next month's hop (Saaz from the Czech Republic) was originally set to be the last of the series, but it will now continue throughout 2013, although with only six beers instead of 12 as Marston's say some landlords have found the turnover too fast. The 2013 ales will feature two hops from England, two from the USA and two from New Zealand.
Marston's themselves say the series has been a success due to the vibrancy of the flavours, the extreme but not overpowering use of hops and the general quality of the beers, all of which is probably true.
But simple curiosity on the part of the drinker cannot fail to have played a part as well. If you've not yet experimented, then it's well worth doing so.
I've seen the Single Hop beers at The Minster Inn, The Three Tuns in Coppergate and The Mount on, yep, The Mount.
Other Marston's pubs in and around York that may also stock them include The Hole In the Wall (High Petergate), The Victoria Vaults (Nunnery Lane), The Saddle (Fulford), The Blacksmiths Arms (Naburn), The White Swan (Deighton), The Corner Pin (Tanner Row) and The Spread Eagle (Walmgate).
- Ye Olde Starre Inne in Stonegate has teamed up with Revolutions Brewery to produce a new house ale called Dark Starre. It was due to be launched last night, as we were going to print.
- Fancy yourself as a brewer? York Brewery is running its annual competition, inviting people to suggest a new ale, which will be brewed and sold. See the brewery's pubs or website for details. Entries close on December 9.