Kelly Ryan isn’t sure if his latest beer will be a success
While New Zealander’s have firmly grasped the brash, pungent West Coast American Pale Ale styles, East Coast Pale Ales have more of a European influence. Kelly’s latest Fork & Brewer production is Devil’s Fork Old School IPA (6.4%), a New Zealand take on HopDevil, brewed by Victory Brewing in Pennsylvania, USA.
Victory brewmaster Bill Covaleski visited New Zealand in May. While Kelly and Bill had never met, they had heard of each other on the international brewers’ grape vine (hop bine?). A collaboration brew gave them the opportunity to meet and share ideas.
“We got on like a house on fire,” Kelly says. “When I do a collaboration I like to take a classic beer and try it with New Zealand ingredients. Bill wanted to try a local version of HopDevil, so we were on the same page.”
Bill and co-founder Ron Barchet both trained in Europe, and Victory’s motto is “European Tradition, American Innovation”. Victory shuns pelletised hops, preferring to use whole flower hops in all its beers.
HopDevil is one of Victory’s original brews and is a distinctly East Coast take on an IPA. Kelly says reproducing it with local ingredients meant breaking some old habits.
“A lot of beers on the market today are quite dry, because they have a high percentage of pale malts, the yeasts are very attenuative and knock all the sugar out. This finished at about 1013 so it’s pretty dry but the Vienna malt give it great structure. So the first idea was to match the malt profile and that sweet richness you get from Vienna malt. We used Vienna, dark crystal, a little bit of Redback from Gladfield Malt and a little bit of pilsner as well.”
Bill and Kelly used flower hops for Devil’s Fork, even though the Fork & Brewer kit is designed for pellets. “We used mesh bags and just plunged the heck out of them! We used New Zealand Chinook, New Zealand Cascade, and Wai Iti.” Kelly thanks NZ Hops for providing flower hops at short notice.
“For me it’s the most floral beer that’s come out of Fork & Brewer,” Kelly says. “There’s no defining pine or fruit [aromas] coming from the hop. When we were loading the mesh bags we were finding a violet, rose sort of character from both the Cascade and the Chinook. It was interesting because Chinook doesn’t usually have that – its more woody, grapefruity sort of notes – and we don’t get any of that inherent grassiness you often get from New Zealand hops.”
“Devil’s Fork has a presence in the mouth I really like. You get a big rich maltiness right up front, you even get it on the nose. It’s an IPA but not as we know it. Kiwis tend to think of IPAs as something big and hop heavy, and now it’s good to have something in our range with an East Coast feel to it.”
Devil’s Fork Old School IPA will be available from tomorrow at Fork & Brewer. Look out for it at other venues – Kelly’s conditioning a few casks and they will be released in coming weeks.
And check out Beertown.NZ’s exclusive interview with Victory’s Bill Covaleski on Thursday.