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Gold Medal Famous 4.9% Aotearoa Golden Ale

Fork Brewing's first release of 2016 is a bit of a pseudo-release: a 4.9% Aotearoa Golden Ale that is a reincarnation of the original Gold Medal Famous, the first-ever beer brewed and released by Fork Brewing (way back in the heady days of 2012).

The re-release of this Golden Ale (which took its name from a local band) has been given the Kelly Ryan treatment with a Kiwi reinterpretation that saw him Houdini the recipe, swapping out previously-used English hops in favour of local ones.

"The original Gold Medal Famous was a proper English Golden Ale, whereas this version is Aotearoa as, thanks to the combo of the quintessentially NZ Nelson Sauvin and Southern Cross hops," he says.

"This translates into a really lovely grapefruit character in this beer. It's not that classic American pink or ruby grapefruit, it's that real Kiwi, running-over-the-lawn-under-a-grapefruit-tree-with-a-mower kind of sort of sweetness from the juice, and you really get that in aroma.

"You also kind of get that - you know how mango skin has a junipery, piney sort of scent that you get from the skin which has a very different smell from the flesh? It's like a pine scent character.

"I guess you could almost sort of argue that it's the younger brother of Godzone Beat [Fork Brewing's NZ Brewers Guild 2015 Champion Pale Ale], both in terms of bitterness, hop character, cleanness. It's a wonderful beer to drink fresh - and all about making those NZ hops sing.

"Just a nice, citrusy antipodean Golden Ale, really!"

Despite the decidedly 'Koi-woi' elements in this particular Golden Ale, Kel says the overall style is a newer one that originated in the UK in the 1980s.

"There was a brewery over there called Hop Back Brewery, and they brewed an amazing beer called Summer Lightning, a lovely hop-forward beer, with a little bit of malt character; quite hoppy, but not super bitter.

"It was very approachable as a cask ale, and in those early days they were capturing that lager-drinking market, luring them back to traditional cask ale; it wasn't that kind of crystal malt-lead, malt rich style English pale ale."

Interesting beer nerd fact brought to you by the Brewjesus: "Colin Paige - former brewer at Mac's and now at Stone and Wood - had a bit of hand in crafting the Golden Ale. He worked at Hop Back around that time it was first developed, so he played a significant role in those early days, moulding the style."

Travelling brewers like Colin came back and forth between NZ and the UK, instigating an influential migration of these hoppy, golden beers, which eventually set the evolutionary wheels in motion towards the modern, hoppy NZ Pilsner that many of us enjoy today.

"The NZ Pilsner was really influenced and aided by this hop-forward Golden Ale seen in the UK, so I've kind of merged these two - the style plus NZ hops - to get this Aotearoa Golden Ale."

Kelly says the combination of the fruity Nelson Sauvin and Southern Cross hops "gives him a melody and harmony".

"Nelson Sauvin is a hop where the flavour is very dependant on that season's crop. It tends to be at the mercy of the elements, swayed by the behaviour of the weather, showcasing the annual crop, and you can get a bit of crop deviation.

"Your challenge as a brewer is to either temper the hop to ensure you get that consistent character in the Sauvin that you want in your beer or just go with the seasonal deviation!

"I've chosen to go with that consistency for Gold Medal Famous, so if I brew it every year and that season's Sauvin harvest changes due to the elements, I use Southern Cross to temper that and get the character I want. As a brewer, it gives me that melody and harmony.

"Southern Cross also helps with the drinkability. It tends to be a little more floral, and you kind of get that more classic NZ grassy, sulphur-y element, which I quite like. It's a hop I also like to use as a bittering hop in the boil and as a dry hop; it really helps to temper that Nelson Sauvin.

Gold Medal Famous uses two different ale strains: Yorkshire Ale strain, a British Ale yeast and a California ale yeast, which "I got from my kind friends at Garage Project," says Kelly.

"The yeast was amazing - it pretty much fermented in three days, it was so fast! Such healthy yeast, which was really cool!"

Kel used NZ Pilsener Malt Base, Shepherd’s Delight, Toffee Malt to lend a bit of malt balance to this ka-pow hop character combo.

"I didn't want it to be one-dimensional; it's not a super bitter beer, but it does finish quite dry, so I wanted those malts there to balance that dryness."

Kelly says it would be a cool little tasting experiment to try Gold Medal Famous next to Godzone Beat:  

"Godzone Beat originally started out as a Nelson Sauvin hop beer, but then I blended in some Riwaka because the combo of those two hops worked well.

"Both beers use uniquely Kiwi hops with similar levels of aromatics and flavour that would be really interesting for the beer nerd to compare side-by-side!"



Gold Medal Famous Tasting Notes

Taste - Malt smoothness; clean, grapefruit zestiness coming through from the Sauvin hop without the grapefruit bitterness, particularly on the front of the palate and tempers the malt richness.

Aroma - Like you've mowed over the lawn under your nana's grapefruit tree in the summer time. Cut grass, Kiwi yellow grapefruit; a hint of orange and mango Raro (yes, of the powdered cordial variety!).

Look - A warm, sunny, clean golden hue.

Hops - Nelson Sauvin and Southern Cross

Malt - NZ Pilsener, Shepherd's Delight & Toffee Malt

ABV - 4.9%

Bitterness/IBU - 30

Try it with - Cheese rolls - the fruit characters harmonise well with Dunedin cheese rolls; shades of that classic Kiwi pineapple and cheese combo.

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