Every so often a new pale ale arrives from a British brewery that I feel serves as a marker in terms of flavour, representing both of where we are now, and where
we might be heading.
Although it was more than 10 years ago now, I still remember my first taste of The Kernel’s Citra-hopped pale ale. Although I’d tried several of the voluminously-hopped US imports that inspired this beer’s creation, that first sip of Kernel Citra was a true game changer; a sense that a wholly more modern approach to brewing had arrived on British shores, and that we as drinkers were about to reap delicious results.
Just as many breweries attempted to mimic what was happening in the US, so too were new UK breweries looking to emulate what was coming out of The Kernel’s arch in Bermondsey, South London. Many tried their hand at creating beers with similar vibrancy in terms of their flavour and aroma, but most fell short. That was until Beavertown’s Gamma Ray pale ale came along. I’m not talking about the considerably more drab, mass-marketed version the part-Heineken-owned brewery peddles now. A few years ago, Gamma was a beer those in the know obsessed over, and such was the demand at one point that pubs had to go on a waiting list in order to get hold of a keg.
As Gamma segued into the distinctively middle of the road territory it occupies today, so too a new challenger emerged to take the hop throne: Steady Rolling Man from Cheltenham’s DEYA Brewing Co. To this day, Steady is one of the finest modern pale ales, and the brewery's recent expansion has done little to dampen this beer's electric flavour – it’s now more available and accessible than ever.
But the nature of beer is cyclical, and there will always be newly emerging beers that arrive to demand our attention. This is what I thought when I cracked open a can of Never Known Fog Like It, a riotously juicy, New England-style pale ale from Rivington Brewery. Based on their family farm around 20 miles northwest of Manchester, the Rivvy (as they are affectionately known locally) team have been producing their excellent beers since 2014. However, a serious expansion completed in 2020 has seen them up their game (and availability) massively.
Fog is a riot of dank, ripe mango flavours. Its gentle carbonation plays wonderfully off these juicy notes, somehow helping to bring this beer's touch of acidity to the fore, which is what makes it so damn drinkable. I may not always reach for a hazy beer these days, but when the mood takes me, Fog is exactly the sort of beer I want: delicious and moreish.
Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag. Sign up to our All Killer No Filler subscription box and you'll find incredible beers like this one every month, plus more great writing from Matthew and our food writer Claire Bullen.