Hop Smoke Tickling the Brain

Detail from the label of Oakham's Green Devil IPA.

We’re as tired of the fetishisation of hops as much as the next blogger but, despite that, the two beers that have made us sit up and take notice lately have both been showcases for bold hopping.

A couple of weeks ago, we spent a happy afternoon in the back room of the Star Inn, Crowlas, helping Darren ‘Beer Today’ Norbury work through his stash of free beer. The stand out of that session was Oakham’s Green Devil IPA (6%).

When we opened it, a wisp of vapour appeared at the neck, and then the aroma hit us, like smelling salts. If it had been a cartoon, there’d have been green tendrils in the air, curling their way into our noses and throats. Dave, who Darren mentions in his post, isn’t totally convinced by either super hoppy beers or by ‘tasting’ as a pursuit, but even he couldn’t stop himself exclaiming, wide-eyed: “Nettles! Freshly cut grass! Herbs!”

Those cartoon pong trails made a second appearance at the beer festival at the First and Last in Sennen, near Land’s End, last weekend, when we bought our first pints of Moor Nor’Hop (4.1%). Even with a gale blowing; in typical headless festival condition; and from a plastic cup, the fantastic aroma of the beer reached us long before we lifted it to our lips. Can we measure aroma by height? Nor’Hop’s was a towering 75cm or so.

Nor’Hop is also unfined, making it the first such beer we’ve consumed in the wild. Its cloudiness didn’t put us off and might have contributed to a sense we had of its ‘juiciness’; but we think it would probably have tasted just as nice clear. Once we’d found it, we stuck with it, and drank nothing else until it was time to get a bus home through the fog.

5 thoughts on “Hop Smoke Tickling the Brain”

  1. I love Green Devil – it was one of the beers that the less fanatical drinkers that I’d dragged along to the Ealing Beer Festival this year really went for, largely because it had that big cartoon-like tractor beam of aroma that you describe coming out of it (I remember one of them saying that they ‘weren’t used to beer actually smelling of something’). And they do it in 660ml bottles, which is always a bonus.

  2. I gather there’s a Moor beer, possibly Nor’Hop, at the Blue Anchor beer fest in Helston this weekend. Two friends I was drinking with in the Star last night went there Thursday evening and sent it back because it was cloudy and smelt odd!
    Justin Hawke, of Moor Brewery – an American – told the SIBA magazine earlier this summer: “Absolute clarity in a beer is a 100% UK perspective… In other parts of the world they prize cloudy beer and actually rate it above its clear counterpart in terms of taste and aroma.”
    Armed with this knowledge, would my drinking buddies have taken a different stance? They’re used to drinking the Star beers which are at the opposite end of the spectrum and generally have crystal clarity, which punters seem to appreciate.
    Getting the Great British Public to accept cloudy beer could be an uphill struggle. For geeks, however, it opens up a whole new world of variety…

  3. Green Devil was easily the best beer I’ve had this year. It just completely blew me away. I kept going back to the pub to see if they had any more but sadly it kept selling out before I got there.

    Have to say, Oakham Ales seem to be an example of a brewery where the superb quality of their marketing is actually surpassed by the remarkable quality of their beer.

  4. Not tried the Nor’Hop but hopefully it will wend its way up here. I’ve always been generally impressed with Moor, but miss JJJ Ipa, which i think was discontinued. I have a bottle of Green Devil held for me at Beer Ritz, and this has whetted the appetite!

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