We're about to enter the time of year where, even more than usual in the current climate, there is a particular focus on hops. Home experimenters with their own handful of plants, small breweries with a few rows of bines and the country's major hop growers are all in the process of, or about to start, harvesting this year's crop. Yet Prickly Moses' latest, despite being an IPA with plenty of all-Aussie hops contain within, is keen for us to focus on another ingredient. It is named Commander after a new type of malt that head brewer Luke Scott believes he is the first to use as a base malt in a commercial beer. It is being introduced after being developed for its greater resistance to disease and replaces Galaxy, a variety of Aussie malt, not the all-conquering hop (not that that's in any way confusing...).
"Everyone talks about hops," says Luke. "But you always need malt to hold up the beer. The first thing I decide upon with a new beer is the yeast, then the malt and then the hops. Malt to me is the important one." That said, he's used a blend of all local, and mostly new, hop varieties in it too: Ella (64 per cent), Vic Secret (32 per cent), Galaxy (3 per cent), Pride of Ringwood (1 per cent). He says this will be the first of a series of Commander beers, while lovers of IPAs can look out for the return of the Chardonnay IPA, for which the winemaker from McWilliams will be joining Luke in the Otway Ranges for the blending. Oh, he's got heaps of barrel experiments going on for Good Beer Week too, but you'll discover that when you get your hands on the official program next week...
- Australian IPA
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[The Local Taphouse D