As these words are being typed, the Hawkers crew are making their way around the US collaborating on beers with American friends. Before they departed for this year's Craft Brewers Conference, however, they laid down another Trans-Pacific collab with Bale Breaker, the brewing arm of Yakima Chief Hops (YCH) when they were in Australia for hop harvest with Cryer Malt.
Tom Needs More Friends, named for Cryer's Tom Madams (more than the MySpace Tom), is an IPA brewed with Oregon malts not used in Australia before plus experimental US hop variety HBC 692, said to be capable of imparting "grapefruit, floral, stone fruit, potpourri, woody, cream, pine, and resinous notes" to a beer. It might seem a grand claim for a single hop but, before we'd delved into its qualities, our tasting notes said: "enveloping hop aroma that touches many bases", so there you go, adding the likes of candied blackcurrant, perfume and bergamot to our list too.
The malts are more prominent than in many IPAs these days, adding balance via sweet, toasted caramel flavours before a building bitterness comes to the party, bringing with it a touch of dark fruit and spice. It might read like a mouthful, and it is, but in a good way.