If you’re partial to gingers – bread, snaps, Rhys Darby – you may want to add the newest Little Forker, Mic Drop 3.9% Spiced Ginger Milk Ale to your list.
Ales using ginger aren’t as common as they used to be and Kelly harked back to memories of Dux de Lux in Christchurch when their Ginger Tom was one of the classics in NZ.
“When I was brewing over in England, we used to brew a fantastic Pale Ale that included generous amounts of rye malt, as well as crystallised ginger, caraway seeds, coriander seeds and the zest of fresh Seville Oranges. It was probably one of my favourite cask ales when we produced it and I definitely used this as inspiration,” he says.
“Mike, one of the Fork & Brewer chefs, isn’t a big beer drinker, but he questioned me about a beer he’d recently drunk and enjoyed that contained ginger and asked if I’d ever do one.
“It just so happened that I had done a Little Forker before called Fire & Freckles that used ginger, but I was keen to brew one again and started thinking about the flavour profile I wanted.
“So this beer came about because of Mike, and that’s where the name for this Little Forker came from.”
Kelly also recalled the days when Monteith’s Summer Ale came out, just prior to starting at DB Breweries.
“It was never one that I brewed at DB, even though I did my time brewing some of the core Monteith’s range, but I remember the wave of Summer Ale madness that came thundering through the innocent palates of beer drinkers,” he says.
“This was a beer that had an inherent sweetness, it had notes of ginger and citrus and was as close to a shandy that a lot of beer drinkers had tried. It was initially brewed as a limited release, and I remember people would get excited when its return was imminent. As maligned as it sometimes is, there was always something in their Summer Ale that I enjoyed.
“Maybe it was the fact that in my earlier days, I hadn’t been a huge beer drinker and it appealed to me. Maybe it was the fact that it wasn’t a classic Reinheitsgebot beer. It contained rata honey and a wonderful citrus and ginger spice, and I think people liked that. I remember it having an appeal to non-beer drinkers. My mum was never a big beer drinker, but she liked a shandy and probably for that same reason, she enjoyed this beer.”
Kelly said it has been years since he tasted a Summer Ale, but somewhere in the back of his flavour memories, he recalled it had quite a forward malt character, and used this memory to develop a backbone for this Little Forker.
A blend of Pilsener, Caramunich and Carared malts was used and the resulting wort was spiced with coriander seeds, sweet navel orange zest and pulverised root ginger. To emulate the sweetness Kelly recalled, he threw in a good dose of milk sugar/lactose.
“Lactose isn’t fermentable by brewer’s yeast, so I knew it would leave a subtle, sweet finish as well as provide a little texture,” he says.
Mic Drop Spiced Ginger Milk Ale Tasting Notes
Flavour: Rich, textured mouthfeel, zingy orange oil, and a sweet finish
Aroma: Caramelised ginger spice with a subtle citrus layer
Malts: Pilsener, Caramunich, Carared
Hops: American Crystal
Other: Freshly grated Ginger Root, Coriander Seeds, Fresh Sweet Navel Orange zest, Lactose
Yeast: House Strain, warm fermented