Did you know that February marks New Zealand Beer Month? Curated by the New Zealand Beer Collective, this year the focus is on showcasing breweries right here “that have kiwi brewing at their core to support some splendid NZ offerings” – so we were asked to put a few words together about one of our most well loved beers!
For 15 years now there’s been a superstar amongst our core range. A secret weapon we keep in plain sight, packed full of tasty New Zealand hops, redolent with aromas and flavours of gooseberry and grape. Twice Champion Beer of Sheffield, and a firm favourite amongst both staff and customers… it is, of course, Deception!
The story of Deception starts way back over fifteen years ago, when we were trialling some new hops in a series of specials. Friend of the brewery Stuart Noble wouldn’t stop talking about a new hop from New Zealand, Nelson Sauvin, a hop that supposedly brought with it flavours of Sauvignon Blanc, and so we thought we’d give it a go. Our hop suppliers, Charles Faram, also knew how much our brewery owner Pat loved experimenting with new varieties and so were happy to help us get our gauntlet gloves on some. We brewed one full brew length of it, sold out of it within weeks and promptly had to brew it again!
We then had so many requests for it we brewed it every year. (As a slight aside, the following year, word on the street was a hop called Citra and we used that in Duck Baffler – another perennial beer.) Deception remained an annual release until 2013 when we were finally able to pin down a regular supply of Nelson Sauvin and fulfil the demand all year round!
Deception was (and we suppose still is!) one of the longest standing beers in the UK to make use of Nelson Sauvin. Paul Corbett, Managing Director at Charles Faram, tells us of how Farams have been stocking and selling New Zealand hops since 1996, following a “drop in” visit by Tom Inglis (a New Zealand grower, who was on holiday in the UK – sounds like Tom takes a similar approach to holidaying to our Pat & Sue, who can never resist an opportunity to chat beer whilst in new climes!). The early varieties such as Pacific Gem, Green Bullet and Pacifica were all good sellers for Farams, but without reaching the same levels of impact as Nelson Sauvin. Nelson Sauvin was first grown in 2000, but was kept for the New Zealand home market until the acreage became large enough to export, so Faram’s had to wait for a few years until they managed to get some in 2004. Initial volumes from New Zealand were very small but everyone who used it, loved it. It was a fantastic hop and the lovely Sauvignon Blanc-esque flavour really helped to spark a new wave of flavours in beer. As the years went on, demand increased and it became a big challenge to get enough to keep everyone happy (we probably didn’t help matters here!).
To meet this high demand, the existing farms in New Zealand have over the years invested in new wirework, kilns and picking machines, and there have even been whole new farms established to help ensure the supply of Nelson Sauvin and other fantastic New Zealand varieties. This has led to a higher and more well-established acreage, which means that there’s finally enough to go around for all us brewers to experiment with!
Whilst Deception has formed part of our regularly available range for a decade now (and was the very first beer our brewer Christie both bought for himself, and also served a pint of as a bartender at the Kelham Island Tavern, showing how it holds many fond memories for others in the team too!), in more recent years we’ve experimented with variants of this popular classic, releasing “Double Deception” (a bold and boozy 8.2% DIPA) and “Dry Hopped Deception” to showcase Nelson Sauvin at its fruity, fantastic finest.
As of January 2023, we’ve also made the decision to add Brewers Clarex to the Deception recipe, reducing the gluten without making any change to the character or flavour of the beer, which hopefully means more of you than ever before will be able to enjoy this delicate, delectable pint. If you’d like some cans for yourself, they’re available via our online shop as well as from many of the wonderful indie retailers we supply (let us know if you’d like some information on stockists in your area!)
Where else would you like to see us take this NZ hero of our range?
This post was originally written for and shared on the NZ Beer Collective’s website here. With thanks to Paul Corbett and the Charles Faram team for their valuable help and insights.