Beervana Preview 1 – Malthouse’s Thornbridge Three

Thornbridge is an English craft brewery with strong links to New Zealand. Those links will be strengthened next week when the Malthouse launches three Thornbridge imports at Beervana.

English pale ales always seem a bit understated and stiff-upper-lip to my New World tastes, but Jaipur India Pale Ale proves me wrong again. Thornbridge describe it as “a citrus dominated India Pale Ale, its immediate impression is soft and smooth yet builds to a crescendo of massive hoppiness, accentuated by a honey. An enduring, bitter finish”.

At 5.9% alc it is the baby of the Malthouse’s Thornbridge Three, but plenty strong enough to carry the hop flavours and bitterness, and would be an excellent match to Indian food. If you like Epic Pale Ale, try Jaipur. Epic’s Luke Nicholas has worked with Thornbridge, and although he didn’t develop Jaipur, I’m sure he will have found it to be a soul-mate to his flagship brew.

Saint Petersburg Imperial Russian Stout is a fine example of this big, heavy, imperialist style. St Petersburg has just six hours of daylight during the winter solstice, and Russian Imperial Stout is a real winter warmer style. Like India Pale Ale, Russian Imperial Stout was brewed in Britain for export, with high alcohol to help it travel well.

Thornbridge describes Saint Petersburg as having a “lemony, minty hop nose with underlying chocolate caramel. Big, sweet roasted malt in the mouth with hints of chicory and bitter coffee. Some dark chocolate and wisps of peaty smoke.”

I detected bitter liquorice and black plum in the flavours, and the smokiness is evident in the aroma and flavour. With an imperial 7.7% alc this one will keep. Open one on our winter solstice and be grateful you’re not in Saint Petersburg surrounded by Bolsheviks.

Halcyon Imperial Pale Ale is one you cannot afford to miss. The official Thornbridge description is “Golden blonde beer with an exquisite passionfruit, gooseberry and mango aroma. An initial sweetness and full body are balanced by a lasting grapefruit-like bitter finish.”

Well that’s the official version. Halcyon is an unusual style – it is dry-hopped with wet hops. Fresh, undried hops are added during fermentation to give a new spin on the late-hopping technique. The result is masses of fruity, hoppy aroma announcing a balanced bitter beer with lovely summer stonefruit flavours. I call it the nectarine ninja, and Neil Miller calls it a peach carrying a four-by-two. The aroma and fruit will lead you in, the velvety peach fuzz mouthfeel will seduce you, and the 7.7% alc will slap you around.

This one’s extraordinary and very drinkable – don’t leave Beervana without visiting the Malthousers and trying Halcyon.

And if you can’t, really, really can’t make it to Beervana, then check out the Thornbridge website – it’s a good one.

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©Martin Craig. Reproduction with permission only.

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