Friday, 7 February 2014

Beers of London Series 69. Hop Stuff - Renegade IPA

Beers Of London Series
69. Hop Stuff - Renegade IPA 5.6%

I first heard about Hop Stuff brewery towards the end of last year as I was compiling my own personal list of London Breweries so that I could keep up to date with who was open, who had closed, and who was rumoured to be starting up. It was, and continues to be, a very exciting time to be drinking in London with changes happening on an almost daily basis. In fact two of the breweries already featured in this series (Brupond and The Botanist) are no more, but with many more opening the list just continues to grow. I didn't actually get around to publishing my list, however if you'd like to keep up with what's happening on the London beer scene you could do a lot worse than visit Beer Guide London or download Will Hawkes Craft Beer London app for your smartphone, or indeed by the book that goes with it. Well  known beer writer Des De Moor also has a London Breweries page although this is a little out of date however these are all valuable sources of information with twitter being the most up to date (try London Beer Guide, London Beers or New Beer In London) and even I have been known to cover it on occasion.

Hop Stuff brewery was the dream, and now reality of James Yeomans who moved into the Woolwich area in March of 2013. He already had a love of craft beer but noticed that there was a dearth of it in his immediate area and after some thought gave up his job in banking and seized the opportunity he saw before him. He is incredibly proud of the history of the area his brewery is in and uses the cannon symbolism on his bottle label to encompass this. He informs me that there is no connection to Arsenal football club who share the cannon as their emblem and have the nickname 'the Gunners' as they also started 'South Of The River' before migrating North, with rugby being more to his liking. Armaments manufacture, ammunition proofing and explosives research were all carried out at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich until the Ministry Of Defence moved out in 1994, and James sees the brewery as being the next stage in the history of the area.

Originally from Oakham in Rutland he has great admiration for the Grainstore Brewery and their brewpub there, and is particularly delighted by their recent expansion. Further afield he cites Sam Calagione as a role model with regard to the challenges of starting and growing a successful brewery with a focus on consistency of product, something that James is particularly passionate about. Plans for the short term are to maximise the current building's capacity as he is rapidly gaining a reputation for producing good consistent quality beer locally, something he is keenly aware that some small brewers struggle to do.

The current range consists of four beers, Fusilier, a classic English bitter, Pale, a crisp golden ale with a grassy citrus flavour, Gunners Porter, a 7.4% example of the style that I'll be reviewing soon, and Renegade IPA, the beer I'm writing about tonight. He has plans to add a saison to the portfolio in March and plans it to be a Spring beer through and through, although he won't give too much away at present.

As an additional note, I'm reviewing this beer in conjunction with the Beer O'Clock Show podcast who are featuring this beer as their first of Season 4 which I've linked to here. In fact it was Steve from the Beer O'Clock Show who gave me the introduction to James for which I am most grateful. I recommend that you follow them on twitter and download the podcasts, I find them both entertaining and informative.

Time for me to drink the beer. It pours a beautifully deep sunset orange with a thin, lightly carbonated white head and the aroma of passion fruit, lime and freshly peeled oranges, with maybe the slightest notion of desiccated coconut. Initially smooth over the tongue, the carbonation kicks in hard at the back of throat with an explosion of juicy nectarine, tangerine juice and a drop of grapefruit like a cannon shell detonating with a burst of citrus, both bitter and succulent at the same time. It disappears a little thinly into the finish a little quickly after that but nevertheless all those fruity acerbic flavours resonate wonderfully here, quite distinct and without the harsh dryness that often accompanies beers of this style.
This isn't a showy beer. It does indeed have a bitter kick up front but when all that wonderful fruit slides over the tongue it tames it rather nicely, soothing into its long lasting conclusion.

I sincerely hope that you get the chance to taste this beer soon. Perhaps you'll read this review or listen to the Beer O'Clock Show podcast as you drink it, however with James's determination and high production values I'm sure it won't be too long before you get the chance to drink it.

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