BEER REVIEW: Hop to it and taste the difference
In what has become a bit of an annual occasion, Hugh the Neighbour and I sat to taste and compare this year's release of the James Squire Hop Thief (number 9) to last year's release (number 8).
Hop Thief, for those not in the know, is an American West Coast-style pale ale, that each year is made using a different blend of hops.
I first remember paying attention to Hop Thief 6 which was made with Simcoe and Columbus hops, followed by HT7 (Galaxy and Mosaic hops), and then HT8 (Crystal and Cascade hops). Hop Thief 9 is based around citra lupulin and calypso hops, and is a worthy successor to the line.
Pouring a clear deepish amber in the glass, it delivers a good whack of fruit on the nose. In the mouth, you get real citrus flavours however there is a backbone of maltiness that separates this from some of the mouth-puckering pale ales from the US and many progressive craft brewers in Australia.
Having kept a couple of bottles at the back of the fridge from the Hop Thief 8, Hugh and I were able to contrast the difference the selection of hops can make to a beer - and the difference is considerable.
HTN actually preferred the number 8 to this year's offering (although he reckons his favourite was the number 7 from the year prior) and I could see what he meant as the malts were more pronounced in the number 8.
Hop Thief is a pleasant tipple, and I reckon really worth trying every year just to appreciate the difference ingredients make to what is basically the same process done over and over a again. Give it a try this summer.