Don Kavanagh is the editor of Hospitality magazine.

Don Kavanagh: Hopping mad again

Add a comment

Balance is the key ingredient in any good brew, points out Don Kavanagh.

The sharp tang and lovely dryness of hops in beer gives a balance to the sweetness of the malt, but the key is: balance. Photo / Thinkstock
The sharp tang and lovely dryness of hops in beer gives a balance to the sweetness of the malt, but the key is: balance. Photo / Thinkstock

I've probably bored you all to tears with my opinions on hop levels in some beers, but I think I need to make one thing clear.

I love hops in beer. I love the sharp tang they give and the lovely dryness they offer to balance the sweetness of the malt, but the key word there is balance.

If a beer - or any other drink, for that matter - isn't balanced then it's not a very good drink.

Tea with three spoons of sugar in it is hideous. Bourbon drowned in cola is an all-too-common atrocity in bars, as is a gin and tonic where the tonic has been merely waved at the glass.

So I was delighted to come across some nice, hoppy beer recently that actually tasted of beer, rather than simply hops.

The first one was from Epic, a brewery known for its uncompromising hop levels, which can often overwhelm the malt characters of the beer. But Zythos is something else entirely.

Made from a blend of American hops, Zythos is named for the Greek version of an Egyptian word for beer. It's subtitled One Trick Pony, a sly dig at those who tend to dismiss Epic beers as simply tasting of hops and, to be fair, I could be accused of that very crime myself on occasion.

This is a fantastic beer. The nose is packed with pine-needle aromas with coppery notes and an underlying cereal sweetness, and the palate is great - big, sharp piney hop flavours, with a good belt of malt across the mid-palate and a nice tart finish. It carries its alcohol well (6 per cent abv) and it's a lovely, lively, well-balanced beer.

I also tried a selection of Yeastie Boys beers recently and, when it comes to hops, these guys really know how to pack a punch. All their beers have a heroic level of hop flavours, from the citric to the piney, but the Red Rackham, a Belgian-style amber ale, really stood out.

The nose alone is worth the price of entry, with fruit, spice and pine aromas mingling with a bready, yeasty character. It fairly explodes on the palate, with sourdough, stewed fruit and orange oil notes overlaid with a spruce-like hoppiness.

And for something a little more restrained, I was charmed by the latest ale from Australia's Little Creatures brewery. Rogers is a lovely session beer, weighing in at 3.8 per cent alcohol, with rich malt and caramel flavours balanced by crisp, mouthwatering hop bitterness. A charmer.

- Herald on Sunday

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 23 May 2017 23:26:00 Processing Time: 542ms