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Marston’s introduces six single hop cask ales

Marston’s is building on the success of its 2012 single hop cask ale programme with a further six for 2013.

The 2013 series will again be 4%abv and with the same lightly kilned barley malt body

Ian Ward of Marston’s, brand manager for the Single Hop ales, comments: “The 2012 Single Hop programme showcased 12 beers with hops from eight countries - New Zealand, Australia, Germany, America, Poland, Slovenia, France and the UK.

“The 2013 Single Hop series will highlight two hops each from New Zealand, America and the UK.  We will rotate them on a two monthly basis, a change suggested by publicans who told us that their customers wanted a longer period with their favourite hops. One month was just not long enough.”

The 2013 line-up will be:

East Kent Goldings from the UK (Jan/Feb) – spicy, earthy, sweetly floral; c.6.5% alpha acid

  • Pacific Gem from New Zealand (March/April) – fruity, oaky, earthy; c.15% alpha
  • Amarillo from the US (May/June) – grapefruit and lemon, floral; c.10% alpha
  • Endeavour from the UK (July/Aug) – spicy, blackcurrant, autumn fruits; c9% alpha
  • Wakatu from new Zealand (Sept/Oct) – floral, complex dark fruits; c.7% alpha
  • El Dorado from the US (Nov/Dec) – apricot, pineapple, sweet citrus; c.15% alpha

Simon Yates, assistant head brewer at Banks’s Brewery of Wolverhampton, UK, who will again be brewing the single hop ales adds: “The alpha acids in the East Kent Goldings have moved up from 5% to 6.5% from the 2012 crop, which is counter-intuitive in a cool, wet summer. This will bring more oomph to its flavour profile, without hopefully losing its delicacy. The Goldings will also provide an interesting contrast with the newly launched Endeavour hop, grown near Worcester. This is a new English hop born from American Cascade and English hedgerow hop parentage, and we are expecting flavours better known from our UK Bramling Cross hop, but deeper and more complex.

“The Pacific Gem from New Zealand is a new one for me, although I was pleased by the sweet lime flavours of its Pacific Jade cousin, which we have used previously as part of a wider hop grist (blend). Its compatriot Wakatu, our September/October hop, is already used by microbrewers in New Zealand, and it should be a wonderful autumnal brew.

“Finally the American duo will see Amarillo, which was originally discovered growing wild in a field of Liberty hops. Its orange and grapefruit flavours should be spot on for a balmy May/June; but I will be excited to taste the tropical flavours of the new El Dorado hop, already being trialled by Maryland’s Flying Dog brewery and others. It should provide an explosively fruity cracker for Xmas 2013.”   


2012 Single Hop Review:
“So what have I learnt from our 2012 Single Hop programme? The first big surprise was the number of our regular brewery contractors who remarked to me on the amazing aromas in the brew-house. These are people who have been visiting the brewery for years, and they were ‘hopsmacked’ by such an array of distinctive but unusual aromas.”

“Our February 2012 hop Galaxy from Australia was probably the star performer, combining a noble German hop father with a rather brasher Australian hop mother.

The result provided notes of peach and apricot with a hint of passion fruit as well. I couldn’t decide – would it bomb, as being such an unusual cask ale flavour – or would it fly? I think that two years ago it would have bombed; but the beer market is more sophisticated than it was then, with more intellectual interest in exaggerated natural flavours. And it flew.”

“This love of hop intensity twinned with elegance also made me change my brewing habits: This involved the adoption of a dry hopping regime in the fermenter from April onwards, whereby we suspended a bag full of hops in the fermenting beer, so as to extract more aroma and flavour.

“As would have been predicted by extreme beer lovers, the biggest hop winners were those with big pungent flavours with intensity. What would not have been predicted was that drinkers also seemed to want the intensity element tempered by ‘clarity’ of flavour and refreshment. So they wanted some elegance with their power, and not a blitzkrieg.  So we made them deliciously, excitingly drinkable.”

Marston’s Ian Ward adds: “Younger drinkers seem to have been excited by the vibrant flavours of these beers. We have let the beers speak for themselves by being extreme in their use of hops but accessible, and with our quality assurance behind it.

“Licensees and experienced cask ale drinkers loved it. They really appreciated the wide variety of flavours offered by each hop. East Kent Goldings was one of the biggest successes, partly because it is a known variety, and partly because it has a reassuringly British taste to it. Drinkers said that they had never knowingly had Goldings on its own before, and they liked the fact it was ‘really different, but very familiar’. Goldings make up 40% of all hops used throughout Marston’s breweries, so it was interesting to see Golding’s massive fan club. Adjectives fed back to us included ‘slightly spicy, peppery, hints of citrus, and a clean earthy bitterness.’

“Main stockists of the 2012 beers have included Chef and Brewer, Taylor Walker and our own Marston’s Inns and Taverns. In terms of distribution, the single hop beers had particularly high take up and re-order with food-led premises. But I was in a Working Men’s club recently in Worcestershire, and they took every one as they loved the fact that the beers combine interest with drinkability and balance. And the Wellington freehouse in Birmingham, which has sixteen cask ales, has been a very prominent player.  

“From a combination of feedback and sales figures, I would say that Galaxy, Styrian Goldings, East Kent Goldings, Cascade, Nelson Sauvin and Citra out-performed Wai-iti (spicy lemon), Hallertau Mittelfruh (herbal), Marynka (pungent fruit and herbs), Strisselspalt (elegantly floral): And spicy Saaz is still to complete its month.” 


13 March 2013 - Felicity Murray