Stuffed Full of Goldings

Hops

Traditional hop varieties such as Goldings and Fuggles are seen by many UK beer enthusiasts and brewers as a key signifier of ‘the bad old days’.

Self-con­scious­ly ‘craft’ brew­ers tend not to use them, or at least not to adver­tise their use, just as they tend not to brew mild, bit­ter or best bit­ter.

But talk­ing to peo­ple like Sean Franklin and Bren­dan Dob­bin, both of whom helped to kick off the wide­spread use of pun­gent ‘new world’ hop vari­eties such as Cas­cade in the UK, we began to won­der if the baby had­n’t been thrown out with the bath­wa­ter. Nei­ther man sub­scribes to a sim­plis­tic ‘for­eign hops good, British hops bad’ point of view, and both described mem­o­ries of great, flavour­some, high­ly aro­mat­ic beers made with Gold­ings.

Then, last week, we saw this from Ron Pat­tin­son:

I’m real­ly hap­py that the 1839 Reid IPA has been brewed. Even hap­pi­er when I taste it. There’s that mag­i­cal effect of a shit­load of Gold­ings. It’s a flavour I’m learn­ing to love. When will a pro­fes­sion­al brew­er pick that up? OK, Dann has done in the past with the 1832 XXXX Ale. But where is a reg­u­lar­ly brewed beer stuffed full of Gold­ings?

That helped to crys­tallise our think­ing. The prob­lem isn’t Gold­ings, or tra­di­tion­al hop vari­eties in gen­er­al, but their absence: because they are asso­ci­at­ed with ‘bal­anced’, ‘clas­si­cal’ brew­ing, when they are used, it is often not in suf­fi­cient abun­dance to real­ly make an impact on the palate of the mod­ern beer geek.

We’re sure there are excep­tions. For exam­ple, Mean­time’s India Pale Ale (link to annoy­ing age pro­tect­ed web­site) has US-style ‘oomph’ and a huge, juicy aro­ma, achieved, as we under­stand it, entire­ly using Kent hops. We’re going to track down a bot­tle as soon as pos­si­ble and get reac­quaint­ed.

We have also been asked to sug­gest a recipe spec­i­fi­ca­tion to Kirk­stall Brew­ery in Leeds, whose beer we don’t know at all, so that they can brew a beer to coin­cide with our appear­ance at North Bar in May. After rack­ing our brains, we’ve asked for some­thing with lots of Gold­ings designed to evoke the Young’s Ordi­nary and Bod­ding­ton’s Bit­ter in their sup­posed 1970s prime. Let’s see how that goes.

A revival of British hops and British styles among British brew­ers who have, for the last decade, been look­ing to the US and Europe for inspi­ra­tion… well, that would be ‘post craft’, would­n’t it?