Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Beers Of London Series: 49. The Kernel - Pale Ale: Riwaka, Ahtanum 5.2%

Beers Of London Series
49. The Kernel - Pale Ale: Riwaka, Ahtanum 5.2%

I love trying new hops, or at least beers brewed with hops that I'm not familiar with. There's something quite exciting about opening a bottle with no pre-conceptions about the aroma or taste of the beer inside, it's a blank page for me.
Will I like it? Probably - it's beer after all, and I've yet to find a style that repulses me however this doesn't mean I necessarily like every beer equally, far from it.
Will the brewer have treated the ingredients with the respect they deserve? More than likely on this occasion, this is a Kernel beer, so I can pretty much count on every drop of flavour working to full effect here.
So what are these hops?
Riwaka, which is the one that I'm guessing that you're more likely to have heard of, is a New Zealand hop variety produced by crossing the 'Saazer' line of hops with newer New Zealand hops. This was done at the Riwaka Hop Research Station (from where it gets its name) which is near Motueka, the name of yet another hop variety. I'm not going to let you in on what it says about the aroma or flavour it imparts, mainly because I haven't looked that bit up on the notes, and also because I'd like to keep a little of the mystery for when I open the bottle.
The Ahtanum hop, developed in the Ahtanum Creek Valley in Yakima County, Washington State and, I'm reliably informed, is used by Stone Brewing Co. in their Pale Ale. It's got a fairly distinct flavour so if you've had any of the Stone beer that seems to me to be everywhere (in London at least) at the moment then you've probably tasted it, unwittingly or otherwise. I have to say, and this may shock you, that I'm not the greatest fan of Stone beers (although I loved the 16th Anniversary ale brewed with lemon verbena) as I find them generally a bit too sweet for my taste, so I can't recall the flavour of their Pale Ale. I expect that I'm about to find out.
It pours a translucent pale orange, almost golden with a light fluffy and sustained off-white head. The aroma packs a big citrus punch, full of grapefruit and lemon peel, tangerine and lime juice, there is a faint hint a pine but it's almost completely overwhelmed with all that citrus. Light and a little creamy over the tongue, there's a touch of pineapple syrup, a wash of real lemonade (the kind made from lemon juice, not the fizzy stuff) before the grapefruit peel lays itself liberally over the tongue like a sharp tangy net. The finish is dry and bitter with lots more grapefruit peel and a splash more tangerine.
This is a great beer if you like those sharp citrus fruit flavours and those hops really deliver in this area. I'm not sure that there's a great deal of this beer out there now and I'd like to thank my beery friend Thomas Marshall for picking this up from the brewery for me a little while ago, so if it sounds like your thing I'd strongly suggest that you buy it, and remember, drink it fresh.

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