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By Fork & Brewer Sat 08 Aug 2015
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West Coast IPA Challenge - The Flower Arranger

It struck us about a week or so back, that we hadn’t sufficiently made a big enough fuss about the fact that Fork Brewing took home the bronze at Malthouse's West Coast IPA Challenge with Kelly's 6.5% The Flower Arranger.

We decided it's not wholly inappropriate to continue lauding this feat, as The Flower Arranger is currently pouring on tap at Fork & Brewer to much ovation and bravos.

As Malty blogger/cosmically prolific craft beer scribe, Neil Miller explains, "The unusual, some would say silly, name is apparently a reference to hop flowers and not to Kelly's former career before he discovered his beer making prowess."

Humble apologies to Kel for this late exaltation - we'll blame the delay on a regeneration period set in motion by multiple brew launches in the space of one week, and an additional stand-down period in which to recover from the inevitable West Coast IPA festivities¬Ö.

That said, we'll leave it to The Flower Arranger, himself, Kelly Ryan, to take you through his West Coast IPA creative process in his own words:

"I love IPAs. You could say that my very first brewing job instilled in me the way of The IPA. Mangatainoka is renowned for its famous IPA, after all!

"(Or not. Actually it's not an IPA. It may say so on the label, but it's not. They're fibbing.)

"I didn't actually learn a heap about hops whilst at Tui. It may surprise you but it's true. It wasn't until I travelled to the Northern Hemisphere and began my microbrewery career with Fyne Ales and then Thornbridge that I really learnt the way of the hop.

"And I'm not talking about hop chemistry, kettle bitterness utilisation or any of the super-technical stuff. I'm talking the art of hops. The palming and crushing and rubbing. The release of oils and the gentle inhalation of all of those intensely aromatic compounds. The way in which different hops give different bitternesses. Talk of beta acids and cohumulone and caryophyllene and geraniol. (Whoops, couldn't help myself... technical stuff).

"And then the smells. I use the word cornucopia a bit when I talk about hops and it's true. There is an ambrosic quality to the oils that arise from them.

"I like drinking IPAs with quite a lean malt backbone. Don't get me wrong, I fully appreciate rich, juicy IPAs with good usage of caramel malts: Sierra Nevada Torpedo or Epic Armageddon, but sometimes it's okay to be a little selfish when you're a brewer and brew something that you really want to drink!

"With that in mind, I blended together a mixture of New Zealand Pilsner, Ale and Wheat malts as the basis of The Flower Arranger - something that would allow the hop combination to shine yet also give the beer balance. Although this style of IPA is a celebration of hops, this beer needs to be drunk!

"The American Crystal hop is one of my favourites. German Hallertau parentage, a decent whack of essential oil and it's incredible aromatics of spicy sandalwood, lemon and mandarin peels make this a great addition.

"I used this for bittering and aroma; it's very low in cohumulone, making it nice and smooth and not too harsh in the back palate and it's also low in alpha acids - they're the ones that change shape in the kettle (isomerise) to create perceivable bitter compounds.

"Centennial, the classic 'Super-Cascade' with it's big grapefruit and floral notes, Amarillo, with its mango and orange elements and finally, my favourite hop of the moment, Mosaic, the Simcoe derived super-hop that offers major complexity; I get passionfruit and raspberry and a little pine forest all in one.

"Finally, my dry hop regime for this beer sat at around 8 grams per litre and consisted of the above hops with the addition of Simcoe and Citra for more citrus character. The challenge here was to get the hop complexity in balance.

"The name of this beer is meant to mirror what I had to do in the brewing process... I got a little bit florist. I wanted to get that good combination of fruit and classic citrus/pine American hop character - but most of all I wanted drinkability. A little dryness in the finish, a nice late bitterness. Hopefully, I've arranged that!"

Congrats to West Coast IPA 2015 winners, Parrot Dog; runners up, Renaissance; and Liberty Brewing for taking out People's Choice! For those new to town/unfamiliar with WCIPAC/punters who were there on the night, check out, Fork crew, Brenton Wildman's video featuring Malthouse's 8th Annual WCIPAC. 

 

 

 

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