This brew is yet another reinterpretation of a beer from Fork’s past under Dion Page and Lester Dunn. The original Welterweight was a Session Strength, malt-led IPA, almost a mini Base Isolator in a lot of ways.
Kel wanted to reinvent this beer with a style that was missing from Fork’s current tap line-up and thought an English IPA would be a great addition.
The resultant beer is 5.5% alcohol, around 30 bitterness units and pours a beautiful orange-gold with a mousse-like white head. It has mid-palate weight and a nice orange-marmalade finish.
“This is a style very dear to my heart. Throughout my time at Thornbridge Brewery in England (2006-1010) we brewed a number of Pale Ales and IPAs, with Jaipur being the most well known.
“Interestingly though, Jaipur used 100% American hops and our other popular Pale Ale, Kipling, was all Nelson Sauvin! But they made their way into modern English beer lexicon and both beers continue to get great accolades.
“My challenge was to take the classic modern English IPA which encompasses a range of alcohol strengths, hop bitternesses and aromatics and see what I could do with all New Zealand ingredients.
“So with beers like Thornbridge Jaipur, Timothy Taylors Landlord, Dark Star Hophead and St. Austell’s Proper Job in mind, I went about it.”
Kel wanted to try and get as close to a Maris Otter-type malt character as he could: rich and luscious, full of clean biscuit character, hints of freshly baked bread and a light, distinctive sweetness.
“The way I decided to do this was use Gladfield Light Lager malt as a backdrop and build the flavours with specialty malts. The wonderful, fruity, caramelly Gladfield Aurora malt provided what I wanted, with 15% of my grist comprising of this. Ten per cent Wheat Malt also added a nice cracker biscuit back palate and provided some protein to aid head retention,” he says.
“I kept the hopping simple. My favourite NZ hop variety is Wai-iti – this low alpha, high oil variety punches above its weight every time. Considering a Welterweight boxer is the perfect class in terms of balancing lightning speed and dexterity with calculated power, I thought this hop was a perfect fit. I accompanied this by early and late additions of New Zealand Liberty.”
These hops combined to provide in incredible aromatic of stonefruit and citrus marmalade. Flavours of fresh hop resin, bright citrus fruit, sweet-biscuit maltiness; medium-bodied with subtle marmalade after-bitterness.
Kelly is in the process of keg conditioning some unfiltered Welterweight
for Fork’s handpulls, and also done a one-off firkin/cask that will go on tap at Moon
in Newtown for their cask ale festival this coming May.
“I’m going to prime it with a little fresh wort and add fresh yeast to the cask a week or two prior to ensure it hits the festival in peak condition!”
“I get a lot of different inspirations for my beers but this one was yet another brew that my late Dad had a bit of a say in!
“His very first cask ale experience was when he and Mum visited when we lived in England at the Coach & Horses (our home for four years and the very first Thornbridge pub). I poured him a pint of Jaipur. His first sip confused him, due to the temperature and also due to the lack of defined carbonation (as compared to the lagers he usually drank back home). Three sips in, he was sold. I think he drank three in a row!
“Also, Dad’s last ever senior NZ boxing title in 1977 (after five years of retirement, he was convinced to make a come back due to the NZ Boxing Champs being held in Taranaki where he was coaching at Oakura Boxing Club) was in the Light Welterweight division. I like to think that this beer combines a bit of science, skill and hard work. Just like his boxing!”