This week we’re unveiling the first of a new artwork series for 2020, showcasing one of our very favourite pieces of kit, our beloved hopback!
Originally used as a mashtun, this humble little wood-clad vessel has been with us since the early days of the brewery (although it is a little bigger than our very first ever mashtun!) Since our brewery upgrade back in 2010, the hopback is now used to infuse the wort with oodles of lovely hops after the beer has been boiled and made it out of the kettle, to ensure our beers benefit as much as possible from delicate hop oils and aromas that would otherwise be boiled away and lost. Using whole leaf hops at this stage also acts as a filter bed (our hopback has a bespoke, specially made filter plate as part of it) which helps to remove surplus proteins from the wort and aids clarity in your pint. A lot of breweries don’t have this luxury, so it’s a very special part of our brewing process and was absolutely instrumental in allowing us to build our reputation as creators of delicious, hoppy pale ales! So we’re very much looking forward to giving it a bit of glory on our pumpclips this year – you can see how it’s been re-imagined by our in-house artist James Murphy just to the right!
Here’s a little throwback image, showing our was-mashtun-now-hopback (and brewery owner Pat!) in its previous state…
For the first beer we’ve chosen Southern Cross hops to showcase; bred from a cross between the New Zealand Smoothcone variety and a 1950’s research variety comprised of an early North American ‘Cali’ – English Fuggle cross; Southern Cross was released from New Zealand’s HortResearch hop breeding programme at Riwaka in 1994. It’s a mid-season maturing hop and produces a cylindrical, long cone structure reaching 5cm in length.
With excellent essential oil profiles, low Cohumulone and consistent Alpha acid levels, Southern Cross is “a hop with many talents”, which imparts a soft bitterness with a subtle resinous quality, delivering a delicate balance of citrus and spice when added toward the end of the boil. By adding it at hopback stage post-boil, we can make the most of the aroma characteristics which include lemon peel and pine needles underpinned by clean spicy notes.
Thank you to our hop suppliers Charles Faram for the information on these beautiful hops!