The latest Fork & Brewer release, Charlie XPA, is a sessionable pale ale, and simultaneously, a nod to one of Fork & Brewer’s favourite regulars.
“Our Wellington sales rep, Neil Hickling, often pops into the pub with his wonderful pug, Charlie,” says Kelly.
“For months, Neil had been asking when we would brew a pugalicious/pugnacious beer in honour of little Charlie. So I did! It’s small in stature but full of personality – just like Charlie!
Kelly wanted to brew something really pale with nice, fruity hops, a dry (as a bone??), clean finish with good sessionability.
“XPA seemed the perfect style for this, with the X standing for whatever you want!” he says.
“I like to think of it as Extra Pale Ale, due to the extremely pale hue. It’s a challenge to get the balance right when you are using very light coloured malt as, often, colour in malt translates directly to classic malt flavours (bready, cracker-like, biscuity etc.), so the choice of hop varieties is important.
“You don’t want these to massively overpower such a light malt backbone, however you still want some sort of Pale Ale-esque dominance.”
A chance Twitter chat with a mate of Kelly’s, who is a hop agent in the UK, led him to a new Australian trial variety called 035. It has German hop parentage (Mittelfruh and Perle) and promised a good oil profile with hints of stone and tropical fruits.
“I’m a huge fan of the Australian Galaxy hop and mostly thank Stone & Wood’s Pacific Ale for this,” says Kelly.
“I loved how this hop worked as a dry hop in a dry-hopped cider I had developed when at Good George in Hamilton and wanted the juicy papaya and pineapple notes of this hop variety to integrate into this XPA.”
Kelly tastes and noses the beer throughout fermentation to ensure his initial outline for the brew is still working and whether he needs to modify the recipe, particularly with the dry hop component.
“After the 035 and Galaxy went in, I felt like it still needed some type of bridging element. Something a little juicy with notes of grapefruit and mango. This meant an eleventh hour ‘spicing’ with American Citra, just to help accentuate the wonderful fruity notes I was already getting from the Australian duo and to draw everything together.”
So join us in raising a glass to Fork & Brewer’s most loveable patron!
Charlie Extra Pale Ale Tasting Notes
Flavour: Initial clean, biscuity malt character with good mid-palate weight and a mixture of white peach juice, pineapple, papaya and lemon balm. Finishes light and dry (as a bone??!).
Aroma: Green papaya, Starfruit, Cape gooseberries and pink guava
Look: Extra pale!
Hops: Australian 035, Australian Galaxy, American Citra
Malt: Lager Light, Flaked Barley
Yeast: Fork House Strain – Warm fermented