A devilishly fierce collaboration brings Southern Passion and African Queen hops to the UK.
Monday 03 August 2020
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We seem to talk to Fierce beer every other issue at the moment, not only because they’re great (they are) but also because they’ve become the go-to brewery for big international names looking to collaborate in the UK. Which is how this month’s collaboration with South Africa’s Devil’s peak came about, and how that intriguingly-hopped can of sour IPA ended up in your hand.
“Devil’s Peak came here maybe two and a half years ago, wanting to get some presence in the UK market, and we actually did some brews for them here, as their collab house for the UK,” says Fierce co-founder Dave Grant. “We’ve been really good mates since then; we go out and see them every year, and a couple of them sit on our board as mentors. So it seemed like a natural thing to reach out to them and see what we could do together for the Hop Explorers box.”
One very rarely sees South African hops in the UK, so you’d be forgiven for not having much idea what to expect from them. Dave describes them as “quite noble, quite grassy – more like European hops than big American or Australian”.
“We went for two hops: Southern Passion and African Queen. One’s limey and zesty, one’s tropical fruity, so you mix them up together and you get something really quite neat. Southern Passion that has a distinct Passion Fruit flavour up front, right until it goes on to grassy noble. So they’re not huge banging New World hops, but they’ve got quite a lot going on with them. And there’s a decent amount of bitterness in there too, these hops pack some alpha acid, so it’ll be a nicely balanced beer.”
The Devil’s Peak side of the collaboration was led by brewer JC, who recommended these particular varietals would work well together as a blend. Fierce brought its knowledge of sours to the table, and arrived at the conclusion that a sour IPA (“or dry-hopped sour, depending where you’re coming from”) would really allow these hops to shine through.
“We’re only using these hops, not blending them with anything else, right through the process from bittering to dry hopping. This beer is totally exclusive to Beer52 and it’s very unusual to have these hops showcased in the UK. They’re not the kind of thing you can just order from your local supplier; they’re on a plane, right now!”
Dave says that getting to know different international hop varietals is one of the big advantages of collaboration, particularly when it involves drinking the beers in the their country of origin.
“It’s like the guys who are heading over to Yakima (California) every year and selecting exactly which fields they want – hops are such a localised product, and they often don’t travel well, so you can’t beat experiencing them in where they grew. Last time we were across we worked with another South African brewer called Aegir Project, and did something with local hops, which taught us a lot.”
“It’s a shame that the travel restrictions meant Devil’s Peak couldn’t come up and brew with us, but it was definitely a collaborative effort anyway. They really helped us tune in the ratios of the hops and where in the process they should be used, and I think it’ll be a beer we’re all proud of.”
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