Friday, May 15, 2009

The Harvest Pale Ale

As you know I don’t really do reviews of beers as such, I’d rather just give the bare ones details and a few opinions ad then the deal is that you go out and buy it and make up your own mind. Simple, really.

Here is a ‘Not A Review’ of Bridge Road Brewers latest offering. Readers and friends of the Beer Blokes will know that I am something of a fan of Ben Kraus and the way in which he approaches his brewing. Hand crafting true-to-style Ales with a real passion and determination to brew beers that will taste sensational every time while still allowing for subtle differences from batch to batch is what he and his team are all about. The fact that Ben is very approachable and willing to share his passion is a bonus.

I got a call from a mate in Beechworth to say that Ben had finished bottling his latest creation for the Beechworth Harvest Festival which was aptly named ‘The Harvest’ (he also has a special seasonal brew for the Celtic Festival called Celtic Red Ale) The Harvest is a pale ale with, as Ben so beautifully put it, ‘shitloads of hops thrown at it’ – but in a very nice way. And not just any hops. In fact, not any hops that anyone else can get at the moment!

The hops come from the Rostrevor hop gardens in Eurobin which is the largest hop gardens on the mainland. Ben was invited to sample some experimental hop varieties in the hope that he would find something interesting for a new brew. This particular variety is a cross bred type which combines a nice high alpha acid level with a load of aromatic strength as well. This means that a single hop flower can be used to give a beer the bitterness it needs as well as the smell. And this thing absolutely goes off!

Ben has ‘built’ The Harvest around the backbone of his Bridge Road Australian Ale and that in itself is a fair base to work from. Aiming, in a way, for that rich strength of flavour and aroma found in many good US and New Zealand craft beers, The Harvest delivers in bucket loads. This may be due to the amount as well as the quality of this new hop. As Ben told me, “Had to keep adding more (hop flowers) and ended up throwing pellets at it as well ... wasn’t getting enough from the whole flowers and was worried about getting them out of the tank.”

Ben says that the hops “do more of the talking” in the tap version than they do in the bottle so I’ll just have to get out to The Local Taphouse, Mrs Parma’s in the city or The Cherry Tree in Richmond to find out just how much the hops say! If it’s what I think they’ll say I’m in for a long session.

Prof. Pilsner

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