When the average beer fiend thinks of One Drop, they’re probably thinking big, silly glitter-laden pastry beers or 12 percent ABV sours with a full three months of visa-obligated fruit picker labour packed into each can. What’s missing from this picture is Nick Calder-Scholes and his team tucked away in their Botany brewery are some of the most respected hop wizards in the country. Thiols, linalools, isomerisation, if it’s in any way associated with hops, One Drop are bloody well doing something about it.
The first of the IPA releases this week is a style that’s largely fallen out of fashion but deeply beloved by a small sect of zythophile. Whero is a One Drop red IPA replete with English Golden Promise as a base malt, five specialty grains and four different new world hop varieties. Red IPAs can vary widely in the malt sweetness department with breweries opting to get their red colour from small amounts of roasted malt with minimal malt sweetness while others will go in harder on kilned caramel malts which will give both colour and a deeper honeyed sweetness.
Whero falls closer to the colour without sweetness end of the spectrum with this crystal clear copper red beer showing plenty of toffee and biscuit notes while remaining very dry and easy drinking. The hop combination of Taikeke, Galaxy, Simcoe and BRU-1 bring tropical plums, passionfruit and red berries on the nose and ruby red grapefruit citrus and pine needles on the palate. Singled out for particular attention here is just how clean and tidy the whole package is. No cloying sweetness, no astringent bitterness, just an excellently executed good time.
Up next is Wonderland By Day, the second time that One Drop have doubled their drop content by collaborating with London’s own Drop Project. The head brewers of both breweries actually started their brewing life together in south London so you know this little beauty is a labour of love. Much like Whero, Wonderland By Day is very sharply dressed. A gorgeous sunshine yellow with a big pillowy white head and not an ounce of fat to be found. Fresh harvest Citra, Mosaic, Wai-iti and Vic Secret bring both hemispheres together to create a miasma of juicy tropical fruit and citrus. Mango, orange sherbet and lemon peel combine with green hops and a hint of piney resin atop a malt base that’s so sleek as to be barely noticeable. This beer is all about big fresh hop compounds and it delivers in spades. This Wonderland is dry, bitter and even pushing 8 percent ABV, will disappear rapidly.
In a trio of very good IPAs, the third and final release this week is particularly special. Liquid Motueka is a one beer masterclass in one of Aoteroa’s finest hop exports packaged nearly in a big single hop DIPA. This beauty may technically only contain Motueka but there’s so much more going on than a bag of T90 pellets.
By hooking up with Freestyle Hops and Phantasm, One Drop have got their sticky, lupulin covered mitts on some juicy new hop products. The first being Mega Motueka pellets which consist of late harvested Motekua from Nelson and Phantasm. You can read more on Phantasm here but essentially it’s a powder made of sauvignon blanc grape skins that contains massive amounts of aroma and flavour compounds that are unlocked through fermentation. Adding to that is a liquid hop product called SubZero Hop Kief which, for all intents and purposes, is pure Motueka hop juice without any of the vegetative green matter that hop pellets contain.
Motueka is a hugely beloved hop for its versatility in a wide swathe of beer styles. Bringing a mojito vibe to saisons, pilsners, porters, pales, it doesn’t matter, there’s almost always room for Motueka. On its own and in such incredible concentration, it’s a goddamn revelation in a DIPA. The zesty lime mojito character is intense in the glass mingling with white grape and even the slightest touch of strawberry. The palate is almost like a wet hop IPA with really gentle green hop highlights, floral spice and a herbaceous undertone. A touch of honey malt on the back end provides the necessary mojito sweetness and balances out the moderate bitterness. If this can’t convince you that Motueka is a top five hop, nothing will.
Published April 14, 2023 2023-04-14 00:00:00