Tuesday, 16 July 2013
Beers Of London Series: 45. Howling Hops - Amber De Luxe 4.6%
Beers Of London Series
45. Howling Hops - Amber De Luxe 4.6%
It's about time I had another beer brewed at The Cock Tavern, E8. Every time I go there I feel welcome, I feel relaxed, and the beer is fantastic. It's a place I really enjoy. I'm surprised that it's actually taken me three months to review another of their beers since the Smoked Porter I had back at number 7.
The Amber De Luxe is brewed with Cascade, Amarillo and Chinook hops and I have read elsewhere that this is their Harvest Ale with a few tweaks. If this is so then it's had one hell of a tweak where the hops are concerned. Instead of giving you more about the brewery this time then I thought I'd take a look at those hops and their combination prior to drinking it, Cascade first.
Cascade was developed at Oregon State University in 1971 and is the most widely used hop by US craft breweries, and is pretty much an essential in American Pale Ales. Moderate in its alpha acid content, imparting that all important bitterness, it is best known for it's citrus aroma, heavy on the grapefruit, but with a little spiciness and other floral notes.
The Amarillo hop is patented and privately grown by Virgil Gamache Farms Inc. in Washington State, and its name is trademarked. It is relatively high in alpha acids and imparts a big orange and grapefruit flavour as well as and orange aroma. If over-hopped it can be overpowering giving an aroma resonant of cat urine, however, bizarre as this may seem I rather like beers over-hopped with Amarillo.
Chinook is one of my favourite hops. Cultivated in Washington State (again) it was first released in 1985 and is extremely versatile, you can find it in anything from a Pale Ale to a Barley Wine and is quite often used in Black IPAs. It has quite a heavy, spicy aroma and gives some beautiful pine notes to beers.
So with these thoughts in mind, and bearing in mind that I don't know the quantities in which they were used in this beer, I'm going to open the bottle.
True to its name it does indeed pour a luxurious amber, a cloudy orange lozenge of a beer with golden edges and a soft off-white head. The aroma is something else. Grapefruit and orange peel makes your eyes water from six feet away, and when you stick your nose right into the glass this harshness melts away into beautiful pine and pineapple notes with a herbal basil and rosemary edge. Only faintly oily over the tongue initially it has a mighty burst of pine, grapefruit and musty orange peel flavour, all sticky and sharp but not lip-puckeringly so. There's some concentrated tangerine juice running below the surface like an underground stream, threatening to burst through and dribble down your chin before it all goes dry and gooey at the same time at the finish, like orange syrup coated grapefruit peel, and lasting a long long time.
I'm not sure whether or not listing the characteristics of the particular hops has enhanced my appreciation of tasting this beer, my feeling is that it is good enough to stand without the analysis, however it has meant that I was able to pick some of the different elements from the hops used and my appreciation is with the skill of the brewer in using them to produce a beer of this quality and at only 4.6% abv. I genuinely have a big smile on my face and an almost empty glass, long may it continue.