Harlequin: Experimental British Hop Pale Ale
On a recent visit to hop suppliers Charles Faram in the Malvern Hills we were shown some new experimental hop varieties they have been growing in the UK. We use British-grown hops regularly in our brews but we tend to use them for bittering only and look to American, Australian or New Zealand hop varieties for their bold fruity flavours and aromas. That big punchy tropical fruit aroma that you can pick up from Kaleidoscope Pale Ale is all from the hops we use, but more often than not, all these hops are from overseas. The new experimental hops Charles Faram have been growing seek to explore the range of flavours that can be achieved from hops grown in the UK.
Whilst we were shown these new varieties, some without names yet they’re so new – CF169, CF184, CF242 and Harlequin, we were struck by their sweet but crisp, floral, grape, berry aromas and soft minerality. These are all terms usually associated with wine. It struck us that it would be interesting to explore these white wine characteristics in a Pale Ale. This British beer style is often associated with medium-high bitterness and floral flavours so a perfect style to showcase our experimental hops.
In addition to these British hops, we added one from New Zealand - Nelson Sauvin. The British varieties we received were in cone format (this is the whole hop cone that’s been picked from the plant, air dried and pressed into bales) which we use in the boil stage of brewing. In order to give the beer more pronounced aromas and flavours we also make hop additions in fermentation ( this is also called dry hopping.) However when added here the hops are pellets – this allows for the hop particulate to reach a greater surface area of beer in the tank. As our British hops were grown in such small quantities we received them in cone format only. This meant we needed to choose some for dry hopping. Nelson Sauvin was an obvious choice because it is often talked about as bringing notes of gooseberry, florality and grape-like flavours .
The result is a Pale Ale with notes of gooseberry and floral, delicate sweet fruits. It is silky and full in flavour, finishing slightly tart and clean. We’re really excited about the potential of these experimental British hop varieties and pleased to share the results with you.
Harlequin Pale Ale is available in keg across Bristol and further afield from today. With thanks to Jason Little and Robbie Harrigan and the whole team at Charles Faram.