Craft beer is often associated with American, or perhaps New Zealand hops. There are some good reasons for this, mainly because the more exciting hop flavours do come from the varieties grown in these countries. Discussions continue between brewers and hop growers as to how much this is due to climate and soil and how much is just down to the varieties themselves.
It is generally agreed that both terroir and variety influence the favours and aromas to some extent. The more progressive flavours have been shunned by the British beer scene until recently and therefore the growers less inclined to grow them. Where British growers have dabbled, with cascade for instance, the result is certainly different, and described as more subtle.
Exploring how we can make a more distinctly progressive British craft beer flavour is something that interests me. Long gone, in my view, are the days when Made in Britain has to be reserved, staid and damn boring.
John Keeling, who is Brewing Director of Fuller's, and more importantly, a good friend, has been to my brewery when we made The English Experiment. Four experimental hop varieties were used in this instance. The beer was so successful that we went on to brew Azimuth, which has now become our core IPA beer, but it uses a combination of American and NZ hops, and as a result I call it a Pan-Pacific IPA.
I would use more British hops, really I would, if I was sure they can provide what I want in my beer. Perhaps with experimentation in breweries, expansion of the varieties that hop growers provide, and an increase of demand for more progressive flavours, we will in time see changes.
John asked me to return to help his team make lots of a new beer, hoppy and contemporary, just using British hops. A trip down to London, and a play around on a big automated plant and some great hospitality from the Fuller's people couldn't be sniffed at.
Brit Hop from Hardknott Brewery on Vimeo.
Brit Hop was the result.