Hops once drew very little attention from drinkers.
If anyone other than brewers talked about hops, it was normally about bitterness.
The explosion of craft brewing, however, generated a fascination with all the flavour components in beer, but especially with hops.
Late and dry hopping with aromatic hop varieties gave us popular session beers like Little Creatures Pale Ale. And, at the other end of the spectrum, we’ve seen the rise of uber hoppy brews, sometimes quite confronting in their bitterness.
The search for flavour and aroma nuances, in turn, gave rise to the breeding of new varieties, and a global search by brewers for just the right combinations.
The trend recently prompted Australia’s largest grower, Hop Products Australia, to replant a fifth of its hop fields in Victoria and Tasmania with proprietary varieties.
Little Creatures India Pale Ale (IPA)
★★★★★ (out of five)
330ml 4-pack, $18
Anyone familiar with Little Creatures Pale Ale will feel at home. It’s unusual for a beer three times more bitter than most, and weighing in at 6.4 per cent alcohol, to drink so easily but intense bitterness gives individuality and more drinking pleasure.
James Squire the Constable Copper Ale
★★★★ 345ml 6-pack, $20
James Squire brewer Jeff Potter brewed The Constable in the English pale ale style. Munich and Crystal malts give it a rich, sweet, malty mid-palate. A modest hopping level offsets the sweetness, giving a mild but bitter finish.