With Garden Ale soon to be put into 500ml bottles and sent beyond the rolling hills and warm waters of the Northern Rivers and its neighbouring city Brisbane, our brewer Nic Sandery wished to tell the tale of this year’s Garden Ale and the search for the perfect hop……
by Brewer Nic Sandery
The search for the perfect beer is like the search for a living garden gnome. You know you will never find one but you always like to think that it’s a possibility. However the search for the perfect hop for a brilliant beer is definitely an achievable goal.
One such search began last summer with a hop named Summer. The goal was to produce a beer inspired by the humble garden* and took the heat out of a hot summers afternoon. To accompany the Summer hops we threw some juniper berries into the mix. Anyone who tasted this beer would have had to agree that it was an excellent summer quencher but after a few ‘tastings’ in the Stone and Wood garden, the brewing department as a whole decided that Summer was not the perfect hop for this beer.
As the warmer weather began to roll in we started to put together this year’s Garden ale, trialing a whole spectrum of hops with the variety of flavours only being outdone by their names. Starting with Helga we went on to Enigma and then A-86, before we landed on Ella. Ella-she was perfect. So perfect in fact that we scraped all the other hops into a pile in the corner of the brewery and threw the juniper berries on top. With our Garden Ale, we’ve always had the intention of adding different things from the garden, however the Ella match was so perfect we didn’t want to mess with it. So perfect she was, all on her own, that blending her with anything else would only sully her purity. Her calm peachy roundness with gentle grapefruit smoothness typifies exactly what a summer afternoon in a Byron Bay garden* is like.
Kettle and dry hop additions of Ella mingle with the soft crystal malts to make the perfect summer garden* beer. So full flavoured that you just want another sip with a finish that is so clean that you can go back for another one or two. Full flavoured though it may be the Garden Ale is lower alcohol beer so that if you do happen to find that garden gnome you can have a few with him too.
You can find Garden Ale online
Garden Ale will be available later this month and set to hit a selection of bottleshops and venues across the country soon after to catch the last of Summer. We’ll let you know when and our Beer Finder will tell you where.