I never thought I’d say this, but Somerset is becoming a hop Mecca.
The Moor Beer Company have been churning out some absolutely incredible hoppy beers for quite a while now, but it’s only recently that two of the finest members of their range have reached Irish shores. Plus, at the moment they’re only 5 weeks old (fresh hop klaxon is going crackers), so now is the time to get amongst them. Oh, before you get the wheelbarrow out and fill it to the brim with bottles, I should mention that the Moor range is bloody expensive. They’re pricey enough in the UK (for good reason – 66cl bottles full of high quality beer usually means a hefty price tag), but on that short trip over the Irish Sea, someone has chucked more than the usual extra few quid onto the price. Ah well, at least the importers are bringing in super-fresh stock.
So, here’s all you need to know about two absolutely exceptional pale ales that have recently landed…
Nor’Hop is one of those beers that reminds us all that flavour and high alcohol content aren’t necessarily linked. This fella comes in at an incredibly sessionable 4.3% ABV but punches well above its weight in the flavour stakes.
“Ultra-pale”, “ultra-modern”, and “sexy” are three of the descriptors in the label’s blurb…it’s rare you take a sip of something and think “mmm – MODERN”, but I see what they’re getting at. Plenty of American brewers have recently been attempting to brew hoppy beers with the palest possible malt structure, in order to really let the hop profile shine (avoiding all sticky, sweet, and cloying caramel character). Crisp, clean, and seriously hoppy is what they’re looking for – and that’s what Moor have achieved with this.
Nor’Hop – named after the hemisphere from which the hops used in it originate (they also brew a So’Hop with hops from New Zealand) – pours a really light, pale gold with a thin white head. The aroma is simply delicious: lots of wonderful mango, lime, tangerine, floral notes, pine needles and spruce. The taste follows suit with an incredible hit of citrus (lime), pine resin and loads of juicy tropical fruit (pineapple and mango especially). The pale malt gives just a touch of biscuit sweetness in there, which lets the hop profile do its thing. Seriously crisp finish. Loads of lingering pine and lime character, with a good whack of bitterness. It’s rare that something this sessionable has such a massive degree of hop clout, so fair play to Moor – it’s delicious.
The label of this beaut states that “Hoppiness = Happiness”. It’s not wrong.
Hoppiness is an absolute belter of an IPA: a real US-inspired 6.7% ABV hop-feast with the added bonus of a great malt backbone to complement – rather than subdue – the hop character.
In the glass it’s a hazy shade of orange, with a decent dollop of white foam. Straight away the aroma hits you with an assault of citrus (grapefruit and lime especially), tropical fruit notes (mango comes on strong), plenty of pine – really fresh near-menthol pine, and a light hint of caramel sweetness. The taste loses the exotic fruitiness of the aroma but gains much more in the pithy grapefruit and lime department, with some extra juicy orange notes chucked in. Again, plenty of pine resin comes through, with more mentholly pine needles in there too. An incredibly fresh hit of Pacific Northwest hop goodness. The bitterness is assertive (driven by the grapefruit) and hop oils coat your mouth entirely. The malt is there in abundance too, with some great cake-dough and biscuit sweetness (and a lick of caramel) framing the shedload of hop flavour. The finish is crisp and semi-dry. A world-class IPA for sure, and my favourite British-brewed one by a mile.
So, you’ve had the good news, now brace yourself: Nor’Hop will set you back around seven and half quid, while Hoppiness retails for the best part of a tenner. Oof. I know. But look, it’s nearly pay day isn’t it? Gwan, treat yourself.