Hop picking is in my blood. My ancestors were farmers who lived and worked on a hop farm, called Clinches Farm at the time, in Fowle Hall, Kent and where the original Oast house still stands today. So I was only too pleased to put my heritage into practice and respond to a call for volunteers to help with the harvest at Persephone Brewing on the Sunshine Coast this past Sunday. 

What better way to get to know a brewery than to pick with the staff, their friends, family and neighbours and other beer lovers from the region. The bounty was plentiful this year due to a hot summer. We picked centennial and cascade - the cascade being larger and having a stronger floral and citrusy aroma. Much of the harvest is going into a fresh hop IPA as early as Monday while the rest will find their way into some of their regulars like the American Pale Ale.

We were well taken care of with samples of beer and a taste of the ‘off the grid’ wood oven pizza made from local farm ingredients which we enjoyed in the cozy tasting room equipped with games of chess and crokinole.

Hop picking brings a community together and it was special to be part of this traditional process which, as they expand their acreage, may soon be a thing of the past as they will need more expedient methods to harvest in the short time required.

Look out for the fresh hop IPA at the end of the month and know that the hops were hand-picked with love by a community of great people. We look forward to tasting the fruits of our labour.



18th Street Brewery Hunter x Hunter Coffee 

I love crowd funding. Got a great idea for a business but lack the funds to kickstart it? (yeah I did!) There may just be like minded people out there who like what you’re offering and are happy to chuck some money your way to see you succeed, for just a bit of the shiny stuff when it all works out of course. This is what happened with 18th Street. Home brewer, Mr Drew Fox, started volunteering at Chicago’s Pipeworks Brewery (another Kickstarter success) before being offered a full time position. After contract brewing with both their and Spiteful Brewing’s equipment the Foxy one decided he just had to open his own brewery and taproom. The public liked this idea and last year 18th Street Brewery was born in Gary, Indiana (twinned with Bob, Suffolk). 

I’ve been hearing excited whispers and awestruck echoes on the old copper wires ever since, but never considered that I’d ever acquire any of their wares. And then one day I stumbled across a few bottles on Mikkeller’s online shop. Awesome. The two beautifully clothed examples above are Hunter (8% abv), a double milk stout with added cacao nibs, and Hunter Coffee (8.5% abv), as above but with an added kick from that other glorious black liquid. So.

Hunter. Pours black. Aromas of heavily roasted, almost charred malts, chocolate brownies, hints of dried stone fruits. Very nice. Tastes even better. Those dark roasted malts are a indulgent delight, a slight char works well with the rich, deep chocolate, there’s sweet chocolate milk, caramel sauce, hints of vanilla and licorice, and a moderately roasty bitterness that arrives for the finish.

Hunter Coffee. You’d be expecting pretty much the same notes as those above but with the added complexity and decadence of a double espresso slowly stirred in, right? Well you’d be right. That sublime union of chocolate and coffee is handled with the utmost skill and respect, a luxurious mocha-like flavour swirling amongst the malty goodness. 

And just like that, they’re gone. As sorrowful an event as there ever was. The handful of beers I’ve been able to try from 18th Street have been, without exception, excellent. These are the two that’ll haunt my dreams though, a pair of rich, roasty, full bodied, silky smooth, flavour packed, triumphant examples of the brewers craft. Cheers!

Stone / Chris Banker / Cervezería Insurgente “Xocoveza” Mocha Stout: I’ve been eyeballing this one on the interwebs for a minute now and I’m glad I was able to find a bottle so easily. This home brewed milk stout with cocoa, coffee, chile peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg was designed to mimic Mexican hot chocolate. The nose smells like nothing I’ve ever experienced from a beer before. It’s spot on to the ingredient list; it’s like a churro with the warm spiciness of pumpkin pie and undertones of medium-roast coffee and cocoa powder. Just a whisper of lactose sweetness. The vanilla is a little lost in the complexity of the beer, but I’m sure I’d notice it if I had a side-by-side of it with and without. On the palate I get more of the chile pepper to help mellow out the sweetness from the lactose with a lingering spiciness (from the baking spices, not the chiles). Medium body with a medium-minus bitterness. This is honestly one of the best Stone collaborations I’ve had recently, and maybe ever. If you’re a fan of the ingredients and you have access to a bottle, I highly recommend trying this release.

Side note: This is the best collaboration label art they’ve done (with this aesthetic). Suede was probably my least favorite.

@stonebrewingco happy 18th guys, this beer for me has a story, and a few airmiles too, i have carried the from stones store in escondido #sandiego to #newyorkcity and then from there back #hongkong #shenzhen i had a small sample from stones place in san deigo airport which i didnt like, but drinking this now it is really very different, the combination of the malt and hops just brings out a pineapple and passion fruit this is a beer i like #stonebrewingco #18anniipa #ipa #craftbeer #beer #laowai