Hops

Fundamentals #2 – The Kernel India Double Porter Citra Ella

When it comes to darker beers such as stout or porter, it would be obvious to focus on the ingredient that almost always provides them with most of their flavour: malt. This India Double Porter from South London’s The Kernel is no exception. Its malt profile of bitter dark chocolate and stone fruit laden roasted coffee is most certainly the most prominent element of this particular beer.

However, this is The Kernel we’re talking about here and in a typical break from the traditions that inspired this beer, it has been hopped with two pungent new world hop varieties. North American Citra hops add layers of grapefruit aroma and an oily, almost resinous mouth feel. This bombastic hop has a story of its own to tell one day but today we’re going to focus on the other hop named on this beers label, the Australian Ella variety.

Ella’s development began as early as 2001 (it takes a minimum of 3-5 years before a hop variety is ready for commercial cultivation) and after positive results it was fast-tracked for production trials in 2007. Ella was made commercially available to brewers in 2011 when it was released under the name “Stella”. It should come as no surprise that after legal pressure from AB-InBev - the largest brewing company in the world and brewers of the popular Stella Artois - that Hop Products Australia, who developed this hop, were forced to change its name in 2012. Henceforth it became simply known as Ella. 

Ella was developed by crossing the Australian Galaxy variety, known for its juicy, tropical fruit character, with Spalt – one of the four original European noble hops along with Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, Tettnang and Saaz. Noble hops are known for their “green” herbaceous character and they provide a spicy finish, not unlike white pepper.

Ella has a floral quality not dissimilar to something like lavender while also maintaining that edge of spice inherited from its noble parentage. The effect is that is rounds out the more boisterous qualities from the Citra, adding an almost parma violet note to the mix.

This is a big porter with a ton of flavour, yet it retains its drinkability in a way that’s unmistakably Kernel.

The fundamentals of beer are anything that makes up the sum of a beer’s parts. Water, barley, wheat, oats, sugars, yeast, bacteria and even adjuncts such as fruit or maize are all fundamental parts of what make up our favourite beers.

To learn more about the joys of hops, make sure you get a ticket to our upcoming event Fundamentals Live #1: Hops on April 27th. You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog Total Ales, Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. And pick up a bottle of the Kernel India Double Porter in store or online now.

No More Heroes XXV – Tuatara Sauvinova

The memory of my first experience drinking Tuatara beer is crystal clear. It was early 2014 and I was staying with family in the town of Whangamata, near the Coromandel, on New Zealand’s North Island. I’d been without a gloriously hoppy beer for several days, having only had ubiquitous “NZ Draught” beers such as Lion Red and Double Brown available to me where we were originally staying. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these beers, other than they taste of very little, and by this point I was desperate for something more.

I headed into Whangamata Town to find something more interesting, and picked up a 12-pack of Tuatara’s Aotearoa Pale Ale, as it was the most interesting thing I could find in the bottle shop. New Zealand takes cold beer seriously - the liquor store I made my purchase from had a walk-in cold room where it stored its beer - so when I got back to our apartment the beer was already nicely chilled. I opened the box to find 12 shining lizard eyes printed on the bottle caps staring up at me. I pulled a bottle out, with ridges that model those of New Zealand's native Tuatara lizard, and cracked the top.

Few breweries have the time or resources to invest in custom bottles like these and I feared that this beer might be all style over substance. I was wrong. Aotearoa was singing with the gooseberry and passion fruit flavours of New Zealand hops. At the time it felt like the beer I had been searching for my entire life.

Today’s beer, the single-hopped Sauvinova, focuses the intense flavours of the Nelson Sauvin hop into a vibrant pale ale. The tropical and gooseberry flavours are defined in a manner that makes it easy to see why this hop took its name from the Sauvignon grapes that made New Zealand wines famous. This beer is definitely one to try, whether you're just a fan of your hop-forward pale ales, or if you’re a wine lover that’s looking for a little more complexity in your beer.

Music Pairing – Oasis: Champagne Supernova
If you weren’t at Hop Burns & Black for the latest installment of our No More Heroes live events, Manchester, So Much To Answer For, then you missed a treat. Not only did we taste through six excellent beers selected by Marble’s Head Brewer James Kemp, but we also played some of our favourite tracks by Manchester bands.

Today sees the start of IndyManBeerCon, one of my absolute favourite beer festivals. As you read this I’ll be on the train to Manchester to get involved. As a young music lover, I played a lot of Oasis, but the older I got the more I fell out with their seemingly Beatles obsessed shtick. I recently returned to their first two albums and wondered why it took me so long to listen to them again. This track, from 1995’s What’s The Story (Morning Glory) is an anthem that sits neatly alongside the euphoric New Zealand hop aromas in this week's beer.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at the excellent beer blog, Total Ales, and Good Beer Hunting, and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up a bottle (or more) of Tuatara Sauvinova Single-Hopped Pale Ale via our online shop and get it delivered to your door.