Hop growers have discovered by trial and error the importance of soil.
You can’t just take some American hops, plant them in British soil (or vice versa) and expect them to taste the same. Attempts to grow the famously grapefruit-flavoured Cascade in Britain have resulted in a distinctly different flavour to its US counterpart.
However, in recent years there’s been a concerted effort to breed hops that get American flavours from a home-grown variety. Hence the much-loved classics of British brewing (East Kent Goldings, Fuggles, Challenger) have been joined by a new breed of citrus and tropical themed hops.
Two of these are used in this collaboration between Siren Craft and Buxton Brewery: Jester and Harlequin.
Launched into the glass from its resplendent purple can, it’s a semi-hazy yellow colour with a prominent white head. From this bubbly surface rise the aromas of peaches and passionfruit, flavours that continue on first sip, joined by a hint of pepper. As you might expect from a hazy beer, it’s soft on the tongue, and belies it’s generous 6.5% alcohol. The aftertaste gives echoes of tropical fruit.
If you told your average beer lover this was made in a US brewery, with American hops, they’d be none the wiser.
Written by Richard Salsbury