TwoBeerGeeks were lucky enough to be invited up to Hopjacker which is located at The Dronfield Arms to do a collaboration brew with head brewer Edd and the landlord of The White Lion Jon Terry. Mike having a proper job was unable to make it but I was over the moon to be able to get involved.
Edd had already decided on the beer. It was to be a chocolate cherry mild around 4.3% and Jon came up with the name of `Cherried Alive`. The pump clip had already been knocked up so all that was left was to get cracking.
|The famous Mister Edd|
Edd was kind enough to pick us up on the morning of the brew and on the journey to Dronfield we had a fascinating conversation about the complexities of the hop market. I had no idea there was such a thing a hop quota and brewers don’t just have to consider what they need this year they have to think about the following year too. It’s easy to forget as a consumer that brewers don’t just have an endless supply of citra and all your other favourite hops and actually have to work pretty damn hard to get hold of them.
|Like gold dust but tastier|
After a cup of tea Edd wasted no time in getting me to work weighing out the malt which consisted of Marris Otter, Munich, Cara Light, 60L Crystal, Chocolate and Black Malt.
As the Mash began the smell and steam filled the brewery and it was time to sample some beers. First up was the Kali Ipa straight out of the fermentor and it was a monster, A murky hop bomb packed to the rim with Galaxy and Chinook. I wouldn’t normally touch a 6.4% beer at 11 in the morning but I wolfed down the lot. Next up was the Hop Jacked single hopped series Citra which was again outstanding. It tasted exactly like a beer that said Citra on it should do and left me wanting more but unfortunately we had work to do.
After the sparge it was down to me to climb in the mash tun and shovel out all the grain which I was pleased to learn is passed along to a local farmer to feed his cows.
Next up was the boil into which at various stages went cocoa powder, cocoa nibs and morello cherries. We added Magnum hops for bittering and Brewers Gold for Aroma. The aroma from the steamy vapour that filled the small brewery during the boil made me giddy with anticipation of what the beer will eventually taste like and that’s before Edd adds even more cherries and cocoa nibs after a few days of fermentation.
When we transferred the wort to the fermentor it had a rich chocolatey colour with a slight tint of red from the cherries. Edd pointed out the importance of keeping the wort aerated at this stage in preparation for the yeast being added. And after that had been done all that was left was to let the magic happen.
I was pleased not to be given the job of climbing into the boiler to clean it out and generally stood around awkwardly while Edd and Jon cleaned up. They didn’t seem to mind though and I was pleased when Edd suggested we finished the day with a another glass of the Citra, this time on keg from the pub upstairs. Its an exceptional beer, unfined, hazy and delicious. It was a fitting end to a great day.
You can always find Hopjacker beers in The Dronfield Arms or The White Lion. The Kali Ipa will be available in bottles (if I don’t buy them all first). Cherried Alive will also be available at Shakespeares, The Club House, The White Lion, The Dronfield Arms and The Spireite and maybe a beer festival or two not too far away!