With more than 2,000 breweries in the UK alone, it can be immensely challenging keeping up with who are the latest and greatest within the beer scene. When you consider that more than half of these breweries have emerged within the last decade, keeping up with the most recent beer releases can seem even more daunting.
Another unfortunate side-effect of there being such a rush of exciting new British brewing talent is that some of the breweries that emerged before this rush really gathered steam can be, on occasion, left by the wayside. This doesn’t mean the beer they’re making is any worse than some of the breweries who are getting an ample share of the limelight. But it does mean that, even if you are a connoisseur who does keep up with what’s happening in beer, there are still many undiscovered gems out there to discover.
That’s how I feel about Bristol’s Arbor Brewing, which was founded in 2007. I’ve enjoyed its beers many times before, but that occurred much more frequently a decade ago than it does today. Massive Azacc, its latest New England-style pale ale featuring Citra, El Dorado and Azacca hops from North America, pulled me right back in, a single sip reminding me instantly how accomplished this brewery’s beers are.
Named for the Haitian god of agriculture, Azacca is one of those hops you don’t hear too much fuss about, but provides an intense wallop of tropical and citrus fruit flavour. In this beer it manifests in the form of intense notes of lychee – that combination of juice and acidity running from sip to swallow. There’s a little mango in the mix too, and a bit of zesty orange peel, but mostly it's all about that glorious lychee flavour.
Another thing I really liked about this beer is the restraint in the finish. Despite the initially sizable nature of its flavour, its finish is dry and snappy, adding to the beer's sippability. It’s a good job too, as there’s plenty of sips in this massive 568ml imperial pint can, and I guarantee you’ll relish every last one of them.
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.