Monday, 12 September 2016 10:53

Fork Brews Release: Alternative 5.8% Germanic Pale Ale

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Our first Fork Brewing release post the heady days of Beervana, sees the release of Alternative 5.8% Germanic Pale Ale, a closet hybrid beer style, which exclusively trials a brand new malt variety from Gladfield Malt.

This Pale Ale is a bit of a hybrid, moonlighting between the North German/Dusseldorf-style Altbier (using fresh German hops) and a great English drinking beer called Extra Special Bitter (or ESB).

Rich and malty without being oversweet, Alternative has wonderful fruit characteristics, bursting with citrus goodness.

It also has the honour of trialling Gladfield Malt's new variety of malt (as yet unnamed, but identified by the codename, "Gabriella"), which imparts caramel flavours to the beer without the sweetness, giving an alternative option to balance the beer without sacrificing flavours.

Kelly was approached by Gladfield to trial this new malt in one of his brews, and give Gladfield a bit of feedback on how it performs in a brew. (He's the only brewer in the North Island to have brewed a beer using this new malt, so you can say you first supped it here.)  

He wanted to create a bit of a hybrid between the North German/Dusseldorf-style Alter (influenced by the German hops) and an English drinking beer called Extra Special Bitter or ESB (influenced by the trial malt).

"A few months back, a friend of mine, Albrecht, got in touch and said he was looking at bringing in some fresh German hops from his homeland. I was keen as, so I ordered a small mixture of different varieties to have a little play with in the brewery, and I thought it would be perfect to use in an Altbier" says Kelly. 

"Altbier is traditionally brewed with a top-fermenting yeast, often referred to by some brewers as an 'ale strain' and then lagered (or cool conditioned) for an extended period of time to allow the beer to develop, mature and improve flavour-wise.

"A favourite English beer of mine is Fuller's ESB from the Chiswick brewery in London. It is a little lower in alcohol in its cask form, at around 5.5%, but shoots up to 5.9% in its bottle and keg formats.

It is rich and malty without being oversweet and has wonderful fruit characteristics, bursting with citrus goodness. I wanted to give a little nod to this beer - in particular its wonderful interplay between malt and marmalade. With that in mind, I thought it would be great to trial a new malt variety from Gladfield in the brew.”

The colour of the malt is 140 EBC and Kel says it reminds him a lot of both caramalt and biscuit malt, with a lovely biscuit richness and, surprisingly, little sweetness that he often associates with the crystal malts.

"I'm super stoked as to how it has performed in this beer, especially as I am not a big fan of English Bitters that have a huge, rich crystal malt intensity," says Kelly.

"It's cool hybridising beer styles, especially when there is a goal in mind. When it all comes together and results in a delicious beer, something that isn't made a load here in NZ, it's particularly awesome."

Lastly, this Altbier/ESB hybrid took its inspiration from one of the locals who regularly frequented the Thornbridge pub Kelly lived above, when he worked and brewed in England.

"He had spent some time in the armed forces with a stint in Germany, and had a huge soft spot for Altbier as it reminded him of his favourite Ward's Bitter from Sheffield in Yorkshire, and would constantly talk about how similar the styles were," says Kelly.  

"Tim lost a brief battle with cancer this year, so I'm definitely going to be raising a glass of this to him on its launch night."