Sunday, 13 October 2013

Beers Of London Series: 59. Honest Brew - Riwaka Hop Mule 5.4%

Beers Of London Series
59. Honest Brew - Riwaka Hop Mule 5.4%

Honest Brew are the thirty-seventh new brewery that I've featured in this series and a very interesting one they are too. Born in a tiny flat in London around two years ago, the story really goes back quite a bit further.

Growing up in New Zealand, Andrew Reeve the head brewer started home brewing in his parents garage at the age of sixteen. By his own admittance his first brews were little more than ' alcoholic muddy water', however he kept brewing and the beers got better, much better. Taking inspiration from Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head particularly Sam started brewing on a SABCO BrewMagic kit that Honest Brew now use for their small batch and pilot brewing, other influences include the hops from his New Zealand homeland which are a particular passion, and he cites two breweries Yeastie Boys and 8 Wired in particular that looks to for creative inspiration. I've not had beer from either of these breweries but will certainly be looking out for in the future having had a look around their websites.

After uprooting and moving halfway around the world to London in 2011, Andrew says that he hasn't looked back. Honest Brew now comprise of a team of three, Annabel who looks after the finance and marketing, Craig who handles the beer and bar relationship along with Andrew who does most of the brewing. Alongside the small batch and pilot kit that goes 'on the road' to brew at places like Urban Sessions, they also have another kit down at Late Knights Brewery (a brewery I hope to feature in this series as soon as I can get some of their beer) in Penge, but should be collecting everything together under a single roof in the next few months.

The main philosophy of Honest Brew is 'Share'. Sharing their kit, you can contact them to arrange a date and time and go brew there making your dream beer come to life, sharing their knowledge and experience, and they even go so far as to give a full list of the ingredients on the bottle and a link to the recipe online, that's what I call honest. I've been invited to go down and brew my own beer with them and as I've had an idea for a beer that's been with me for some time then I may well be doing that. Reviewing my own beer in this series is something I've not thought of before but fills me with more than a little excitement. Watch this space.

Rather more immediate is their collaboration with Column Arts Agency at the Triple Hop Beer And Illustration Exhibition on Thursday 24th October 2013 at the Test Space creative agency in Warren Street in London. With five beers brewed especially for the event and a live exhibition of brewing alongside a gallery and live wall drawing while you watch and drink, why would you not want to go? Here's a link to where you can buy tickets, maybe I'll see you there.

On to the beer and using the handy list of ingredients on the side of the bottle I can tell those who may be interested in such things that the malts are Maris Otter and Wheat Caramalt, with US-05 yeast used along with Riwaka and Magnum hops, however as we all know the real test is in the tasting when the ingredients combine into that delicious drink we love, beer. It's time to open the bottle.

It pours a beautiful sunset orange with a fluffy nearly-white head and the most wonderful aroma of freshly grated lemon and lime zest that leaps into your nostrils with an amazing sharpness bringing with it a few peppery spicy notes. Initially smooth over the tongue it then bites and claws a little to let you know that it's there and as it does so it chooses this moment to release its flavour in a huge explosion of taste, and what a flavour it is. There's a huge wave of grapefruit up front, big bold and powerful it's like swallowing a whole pulped grapefruit with all the bitterness and sharpness you might expect, the lime zest is in there too with even some fleeting mint, pine and mango elements but these are quickly swept aside, or more accurately they are sucked into the grapefruit crescendo helping it build into a monster. The finish is dry and oily, with the spent hulk of the grapefruit behemoth washed up on the tongue, gasping for life, before finally expiring and fading away over millennia to leave a faint ghost of its glorious majesty.

This is a superb beer most definitely best drunk fresh with all those oily alpha acids in the hops delivering the most wonderful kick to the taste buds. A potential palate wrecker of a beer it still manages to maintain all that delicious citrus flavour the whole length of the experience from opening the bottle to the eventual fading of the final sip. I was kindly sent this bottle by Andrew to review but if I saw it for sale then it's something that I would definitely be buying and have in the fridge to bring out when friends come round. That's if they lasted that long (they wouldn't). I love it.

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