|Steve "Hendo" Henderson|
The former Prickly Moses brewer (now plying his trade at Southern Bay Brewing) loves good beer and hops with an infectious passion that beams from every part of him as he waxes lyrical on the topic, it's the kind of enthusiasm that comfortably treads the tightrope between genius and madman. As with his passion, his talents as a brewer are equally unquestionable.
He has been responsible for some of the finer beers to come out of this country in the recent craft beer explosion, unleashing the Raconteur, the Tailpipe Big Ass Brown Ale and the Black Panther, just to name a few from the Prickly repertoire. It was the first of these that would be the focus of Raconteur IPA: Reloaded, a collection of 5 single-hopped versions of the original hop rocket.
|A Crowded Royal Standard Hotel|
On the wall, amongst the sporting memorabilia and the Good Beer Week promotions, a poster read "Raconteur IPA: A Love Story About Hops". Probably the most appropriate tagline for the event and the man himself, let alone the beer whose poster it rightfully adorns. The hops on offer were Galaxy, US hop Citra, Brambling X from the UK, Simcoe and the now-rare Riwaka flower, 5 hops with contrasting flavours and characters, some not often used in Australian beer.
|Simcoe, Raconteur IPA and Galaxy|
There was no subtlety with the hops either. Hendo, (who had been seen not two days before, sporting a t-shirt with a picture of a man firing a 'hop bazooka' on it) explained the importance of making each beer a hop explosion, to showcase each hop's individual characteristics. The end result was a feast of six (the five single-hop varieties and the original Raconteur) hop-charged IPAs, each with clear and unique identity and individuality and each capable of being a quality stand alone beer.
The pick of the beers was the Riwaka Flowers version. With origins in New Zealand, there has been something of a shortage of this hop recently. The last available Riwaka flowers in the country for some time reportedly went into this particular brew.
A strong floral sweetness gives way to citrus and grapefruit that take a firm grip without being too overbearing. It's sad to know we won't be seeing the hop used locally for some time, but I thank Hendo for gifting us the opportunity to sample it.