Over 5 months this summer Swindon’s Arkell’s brewery is embarking on an exciting experiment.
The brewing team will be producing five 4.2% ABV beers using the same malt recipe with English Maris Otter for each, but using 5 carefully selected hop varieties, one in each brew. The first hop selected to kick of a ‘hoppy’ summer is Admiral.
Head Brewer Alex Arkell explains: “We are doing this to give drinkers the chance to learn how much hops influence beer flavour. Hops are the spice of beer.
"Before brewers used hops they would add in a variation of different spices called gruit to compliment the malty sweetness of the brew. The introduction of hops from Holland in the 1300s was mainly due to the discovery of their preservative qualities. By boiling this particular plant with the sugary wort, the beer lasted longer in the cask and larger production and distribution became possible for the small brewers.
Each variety adds a totally unique character to a beer. Modern hops have been bred to enhance flavour much more than bitterness and preservation qualities. Alex has selected the Admiral hop for the first Hop Beer, which is said to have an orangey and citrus taste to it.
He added: “Whatever the hop description says, we never really know what the beer will taste like until it’s brewed, that’s why I love my job. Our regular beers have a mixture of hop varieties in them, so by using one variety in each of these specials we hope to demonstrate the significance of their individual flavour.”
Hops add bitterness to beers and allowing early brewers to brew lower alcoholic beers, as the alcohol’s preservative quality was now not so essential, costing them less money to produce. So hops became an important ingredient in all beers.
Arkell’s will be producing 30 barrels of each beer, each named after a different hop.
Arkell’s, established in 1843, is Swindon oldest business and is celebrating its 170th anniversary. Read more about its history