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Fork Brewing & Breakside Brewery Collab: ORE India Golden Ale

There's been a bit of a long, anticipated run up to this week's release of ORE, the ostentatiously hoppy 9% India Golden Ale that was the resultant love brew between two spirit brewers. 

Brewed way back in the early, heady days of August, when everyone was still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the lead up to Beervana, ORE was a collaboration between Fork Brewing and Breakside Brewery as part of Beervana’s Portland Brewers exchange.

This was the second year in a row where Kelly was paired up with a Portland brewer (last year, having joined forces with Gigantic Brewing's, Ben Love, to brew Tainted Love, which Kel has recently brewed as a re-release "with added passion" - which roughly translates to "more passionfruit"). 

Beervana '15 saw Kel paired up with Jacob Leonard from Breakside. And you could say, right from the outset, it was a meeting of star-crossed brewers.

"Jacob was fricking awesome to work with. He really knew his stuff; a great brewers' brewer and a fantastic people's person," says Kel. 

"We came from very similar brewing backgrounds: he also trained in microbiology, then went on to get his brew nous by working for one of the bigger craft brewers in Oregon before brewing at Breakside. 

"So, similar backgrounds, similar ideologies when it came to brewing - couldn't have asked for a better guy to brew with!"

And there you have it. #spiritbrewers 

Before Jacob's arrival, emails were wired back and forth across the Pacific to nut out the brew style. Kel: What sort of beers are Breakside known for? Jacob: Big, hoppy beers….. 

"There's been a bit of a trend, lately, that I really enjoy - where visiting brewers recreate their beers using NZ hops, because they get to learn a bit about local ingredients," says Kelly. 

"I always joke that it's a great method for stealing their recipes, but it's also actually a really good way of showcasing their brews to a local market. 

"Gigantic Brewing started exporting their beers locally through Beer Without Borders not long after Beervana last year, and it was a really cool for them to be able to say that they had created a beer in New Zealand."

The spirit brewers settled on giving the En-Zed treatment to a bold, hoppy India Golden Ale that had been a really successful beer for Breakside, and was also originally a collab with fellow Stateside brewery, Ninkasi Brewing, in Eugene, Oregon. 

"When Jacob made it to NZ, we nosed a whole lotta hops and chose Pacific Jade for a bittering hop to get that really nice, clean bitterness," says Kelly. 

They used a NZ Pilsener malt with a little portion of Munich malt for a bit of malt richness (but not too OTT), and also help with mouthfeel and head retention. 

Selecting hops was like the proverbial kids in a candy store. 

"We wanted hops that were the equivalent of Jacob’s original hop profile. He'd used Chinook, Mosaic and El Dorado, so I spent a fair bit of time introducing him to our NZ hops, and rubbing them down so we could get an idea of the aromatics and alpha acids.

"We ended up using a combo of NZ Chinook and NZ Liberty, which were both originally American hops; this was a nod to Breakside's recipe with a NZ grown equivalent. Then we went for classic Kiwi hops, Riwaka and Waiiti, two NZ hops Jacob doesn't really get to use. 

"He really loved the local hops, and was really impressed by the stone fruit aromatics that you get from the hops we chose."

Kelly and Jacob then used a combo of Kel's house yeast strain, a Californian common beer strain, as well as an American ale strain, which he got from our friends at Garage Project. (Kel: "It's really nice how the NZ beer community works like that!") 

"Garage gave me some of their really nice, healthy yeast slurry - it was actually too healthy! Instead of it finishing where I wanted it to, and giving it around 8.5% beer, it gave me a 9% beer, so it's a really authentic India Golden Ale!" 

Kel finished off the brew by dry hopping with a combo of the same previously used hops as well. 

"The resulting beer has these crazy-beautiful stone fruit aromatics, like apricots, peaches and nectarines, which in the finished beer has developed into more berry than stone fruits. You get raspberries, strawberries and a bit of passionfruit.

"ORE has quite a high IBU; about 85 bitterness units. It actually reminds me a lot of Game of Cones, almost like the Imperial India Pale lager I did for Hopstock; really rich in hop aromatics. It's probably a little too drinkable for 9%, so we might have to do smaller serves of it!"

The final step in the brewing process is to find a beer mule to courier a flagon of ORE over to Jacob in Portland so he can try it! Anyone heading over that way, let us know. 

Special mention goes to Damon Colbert, who helped us name the brew as part of our Portland Brew Naming comp! We chose the moniker, ORE for its golden hue and brew style, as well as a wee abbreviated nod to the origins of one half of the brew team.  

Thanks, Damon, for chucking a bit of creative riffing our way!

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