Probably the best thing about doing the publicity for Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight is that it’s part of my job to sample the beers. After all, how can you communicate about beer if you don’t know what it tastes like?! Below are my thoughts and tasting notes inspired by some of the beers I’ve sampled so far this year.
One of the things that never ceases to amaze me about Kent Green Hop Beers is the sheer range of different flavours that can be produced by the same variety of hop – sometimes as a result of being grown on a different farm, being harvested at a different time or because of the way different yeasts interact with the hops but whatever the cause it makes a visit to our Green Hop Bar at Canterbury Food & Drink Festival a delicious experience.
It’s also a joy to hear so many people discussing beer, hops and flavour – especially when it’s all inspired by beers made with British hops, grown in the country’s hop growing stronghold.
Gadds’ Green Hop Ale (4.8%) Gadds’ was one of the first green hop beers I ever tried – some time before KGHBF existed. This year’s version sings to me the way the beer did back in 2011 when I was writing about it for CAMRA’s BEER magazine. It has a fresh, citrus aroma followed up by lemon and lime flavours which then gently subside like an outgoing tide leaving a prickle of hop bitterness against a grainy, cereal backdrop.
Canterbury Ales Pale Green (5.3%) Traditional pale ales are known for exhibiting a slight aroma of sulphur – referred to by the seemingly rude term ‘Burton snatch’ – and this green hopped pale has a whiff of that before grassy hop aromas poke through. Take a moment to admire its beautiful bright and pale gold colour before you are carried away by its flavour. Powerfully perfumed hops and a characteristic light, green hop freshness combine in this thirst-quenching beer which also benefits from a brisk, lemony citrus and peppery hop finish balanced by a subtle brown sugar cerealy aftertaste.
Canterbury Brewers/The Foundry Single Hop Pale (3.6%) Compare this pale ale with the one described above. They both feature East Kent Goldings but in this beer they create a softer flavour reminiscent of orange marmalade – albeit shot through hints of lemon zest.
Musket Brewery Flash in the Pan (4%) This fully green hopped beer (KGHBs are allowed a little dried hop for bittering/early in the brew) from the one-year-old Musket Brewery has a gloriously traditional flavour from stacks of Fuggles hops producing a lip-smacking, dry peppery, citrus flavour with a balanced malty finish.
Wantsum Brewery Bramling X (4%) A standout beer for me during last year’s KGHBF I couldn’t wait to try this year’s version. The aroma is a little subdued and more grainy than hoppy but the hop delivers a juicy but delicate blackcurrant flavour and there’s a fresh, grassy astringency leading to a dry finish and a bittersweet aftertaste.
Tonbridge Brewery Capel Pale (4.5%) Rich, but soft, resiny hops with orange notes and an earthy, dry finish make for a very drinkable beer.
If the above has whet your appetite for a drop of KGHB, the Green Hop Bar at Canterbury Food & Drink Festival is open again on Sunday 28th Sept (and another hour or so of Saturday/at time of writing) or check out our ‘where to drink’ guide to find a drop at your local pub.