Given BentSpoke's flagship IPA, Crankshaft, holds the number one spot in the GABS Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers at time of writing and is just one of many highly-rated IPAs in the Canberra brewer's oeuvre, what happens when they team up with one of the world's leader growers of hops? The short answer is Hopwheeler, launching at Good Beer Week 2021. But there's a bit more to it than that.
The IPA is part of the EXP Series kickstarted by Yakima Chief Hops in 2020, in which they work with brewers to experiment and explore the possibilities when working with different hops, products and techniques. In the case of Hopwheeler, it's a blend of very well known varieties (Simcoe and Citra), the lesser known but still reasonable prevalent today (Idaho 7 and Ahtanum), and experimental variety HBC 586.
My first reaction (at least according to my tasting scribbles) was: "hard to pin down exactly where the hops sit but, damn, it's a pure expression". Given the hops chosen are either designed to be potent or multi-faceted or both, perhaps that's no surprise. HBC 586 alone has been described as delivering "mango, guava, lychee, citrus, with slight sulphur and herbal notes" – it's no Pride of Ringwood, that's for sure. For what it's worth, I thought there was a soft, almost vanillin creaminess to the way the passionfruit, pineapple and tropical mélange came through. Dry more than sweet, and with a quenching bitterness and a touch of minerality on the finish, it reminded me of an oversized summer or Pacific ale, with all the drinkability that suggests