As the cold world of Stout Season starts to slip away, it is time to proclaim: “Sour Season ahoy! Fill the esky with ice and break out the party shirts!” And Gin-Melon Bush Sour looks like one of the most day-for-it sours that has ever soured. Pouring the pale yellow of an old hay bale that is definitely a fire risk, Gin-Melon boasts sweet and fruity aromas of simpler times when icy poles were made at home out of juice and chopped fruit.
It delivers from sip one with a breakfast juice flavour so thick you’d swear there's a bit of pulp in it, courtesy of watermelon and quandong, the latter a native peach which also provides the inspiration for the name. This initial sweetness is finished with a cool and refined kick of gin botanicals and hit of mint that really lingers around the throat. Sauce loves brewing cocktail sours and, if you’ve been to their beer garden, you know they love summer. Put the two together and you’ve got a Sour Season session starter.
OK, Crafty Pint reader, (don’t think I don’t see you as I type this), time for some real beer nerd shit in the shape of a beer made with a hop so experimental it doesn’t even have a name yet. It's NZH-104 from NZ Hops' Bract Brewers Programme, which provides a handful of brewers with development varieties from Aotearoa.
Here it appears in an XPA pouring the rather un-pale colour of a mandarin segment, with aromas that hit you even before the initial drive-by sniff. A closer inspection reveals a hard drive of fragrances such as saltwater and lollies that have been coated in sugar. Taste wise, it would be easy to mistake Experiment 104 for a 7 percent ABV IPA brewed with many hops rather than a 4.7 percent XPA brewed with just one: there's a turbulent but beautiful swirl of pine and pineapple and beneath this almost obnoxious complexity is a timid lingering of stone fruits that hangs around so long you feel like you might need to floss it out later.
This is a beer that very much feels like you are tasting the future or some otherworldly beer from a dimension almost like our own but where we celebrate death days instead of birthdays and still all have tails. Perhaps this daring little hop will have a place in our world one day and join the other hops like COVID joined the other seasonal ailments (in this timeline at least). Now all it needs is a name*.
The success of New Zealand’s hop growing green thumb seems to be one of the best things for ANZAC foodie relations since we agreed to stop arguing over pavlova. Among the hops to already graduate from the Bract Programme is Superdelic, which is the star of Superdelic (fragilisticexpialidocious). Pouring an almost amber colour you may associate with a happy families wooden dinner table, Superdelic fires off punchy aromas of raspberry lollies and jelly beans sweet enough to make your nose hairs take an insulin shot.
Double down on these aromas by taking a sip, completing the sensory experience of nostalgic canteen lollies right down to the fine white sugar that coats a Warhead. Given all this initial sweetness, Superdelic finishes with a white wine dryness that could stand your hairs on end. The ABV of 6.4 percent is well-earned in this flavour bomb with intense hop notes that hang around like the residue in your favourite herb grinder.
* If anyone from NZ hops is reading this, I’d be a pretty poor beer writer if I didn’t offer some sort of hop name suggestion. Please name it Fuemana after Pauly Fuemana of OMC as a loving tribute to the best NZ song of all time: How Bizarre. It will also be funny to hear beer nerds argue over the correct pronunciation of Fuemana. For goodness sake, you named one Superdelic, surely we can have one called Fuemana. That is all.
Published October 25, 2023 2023-10-25 00:00:00