This post was meant to go up around a month ago. After a recent trip to the Discount Supermarket in Whitchurch, Ali kindly gave me a bottle of Hackney Gold and Great East India Pale Ale from the Redchurch Brewery. I normally lean toward focussing on the Welsh side of beer, but after a month of no real content I reckon there’s no sense being fussy here.
The Redchurch Brewery is based in London, formed around 2011, with a sleek, minimalistic look to their bottles and branding. Hackney Gold pours a brooding, sultry amber in the glass, with one of the most picture perfect heads of mousse-like foam to come from a bottle (sorry, no picture). It’s almost a cask quality drink on the pour alone, a British characteristic that aptly recurs later on in another form. In the meantime, the aroma seems typically American Pale Ale in style, with grapefruit, guava and stone-fruit smells. There’s also something unexpected there though, creamy banana and sugar-dusted blueberries loitering just out of sight but making enough noise to be heard.
The taste is initially malt and biscuit delivered by a light, thin body. It then swells up in the mouth as intense hop notes of grapefruit, lemon, and resin bluster in before they simmer down toward the long, complex finish that is at times tart and citric or sweet and honeyed. A quick taste might leave the casual drinker thinking this is another British clone of the American Pale Ale style, but there’s more to it than that.
Along with the cask-like quality of the beer, there’s a comforting British bitter feel to the start and end, making Hackney Gold one of the best US-UK pale ale hybrids since Thornbridge started brewing. Comparisons to American Pale Ale are unfair, really. Redchurch set out to make a modern best bitter and they used Cascade hops from America as well as Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand, making it a product of the world rather than any one nation.
Great Eastern IPA pours with a hazy, dark orange glow and a dense head of white foam. The aroma is pungent with aromatic hops. An early version of the recipe was reputedly lacking in smell, while the adjusted recipe is perhaps too keen to impress you with resinous, grassy hops. It’s difficult to make out sherbet lemon and blueberries behind the hop screen but they are there.
Redchurch have a knack for crafting beers that work to a bell-chart principle. Hackney Gold went from sweet, to intensely hoppy and back down to sweet again, and Great Eastern does the same. The foretaste is vanilla, clove and toasted malt. An intense sharp spike of green, grassy hops drives the flavour up before it falls down toward the mild citrus pith and pineapple finish, balanced by vanilla, almond, sweet spice and smoky malt.
Great Eastern weighs in at 7.4% ABV but it never leaves a mark apart from warmth on the throat and the full, rounded body. It’s fun to see the craftsmanship at work with Redchurch’s beers, the excellent conditioning, the hidden strength and the playful use of hops. It’s definitely a brewery to watch out for.