Recently Goodtimes was invited to the launch of the new seasonal from the Northbridge Brewing Company (NBC). The 7% Indian Pale Ale (IPA) had been on tap for a week and this was a great chance to learn more about it from Head Brewer Ken Arrowsmith.
The third floor Sky Deck was the perfect location for a couple of hours of hop-head heaven. As the sun set Ken worked the crowd with the history and brewing techniques that centred around hops. This included a flight of seven beers finishing with the new NBC IPA.
The first beer tasted was Tuatara’s ‘Pilsner’ which showcases the New Zealand Pacific Jade, Motueka, Riwaka, Nelson Sauvin hop varieties. This beer was included to highlight the seasonality of hop growing as well as to highlight the classic Pilsner style. Previous to establishing Southern Hemisphere hop growing regions, Northern hemisphere brewers were limited to just one harvest a year.
Mash Brewing’s English style ‘Challenger IPA’ followed showing a modern yet English leaning take on the classic style. Although recent fame has been for their ‘Copy Cat” American style IPA, this beer can certainly hold its own. In many ways it’s a more approachable beer for those new to hoppy beers.
Next up was British brewery Youngs with their ‘Special Ale’. The Special Ale was brimming with classic fruity characters from the Fuggles and Goldings hops. This fruitiness was supported by the honey and caramel from the Maris Otter and Crystal malts. I’m sure this has many fans in its homeland but I’m not one.
Before the run of modern IPA’s commenced pipping hot pizza’s, arancini balls and mini Burgers were delivered to the tables. These continued throughout the night. I’ve eaten at the NBC quite a few times and it has to be one of the best kitchens in Perth for casual dining.
Stone & Wood ‘Pacific Ale’ heralded a shift into more contemporary territory. This is a beautiful, 4.4% ABV beer that was that has it’s origins in Byron Bay on the NSW north coast. It’s unfiltered and uses the Australian Galaxy hop which creates summery passionfruit aromas. Pacific Ale is consistently rated in the top two Australian beers.
Feral Brewing’ ‘Hop Hog’ is the beer that takes the number one position. As the tasting were being handed out more than half the audience had worked out what we are about to taste. This shows not only the prevalence and respect for this beer but also the changing tastes of Australian beer drinkers. It’s a classic.
Things stepped up from there with New Zealand brewery Epic’s ‘Hop Zombie’. Before tasting Ken noted that this was one of his favourite beers and it’s easy to see why a hop-head would love it. Hop Zombie is an 8% ABV Double IPA – that is a massively scaled up version of an IPA. It’s inspiration comes from one of the original Double IPA’s, River River Brewing’s ‘Pliny, the Edler. Both of these beers are very balanced and drinkable, even at 8% ABV and with 80 International Bitterness Units.
Finally it was time for the new Northbridge Brewing Company IPA to be sampled. Ken had a few words to say about it but really wanted to let the beer do the talking. The IPA uses classic American hops (Cascade, Centennial & Chinook) with an addition of Galaxy hops. This is then dry-hopped with the resinous Amarillo & Centennial hops.
With its assertive bitterness and solid malt backbone, Ken has created a wonderful expression of a classic beer style. This will be quite a step up for the novice beer drinker from a Pale Ale or even the less assertive ‘Hop Hog’. Given this is a one-off anyone wanting to try it is advised to get to the Northbridge Brewing Company soon.