Beer of the Week

Five things about … Illawarra Brewing Company’s Single Hop Sorachi Ace ale

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1) The beer in question is part of a trio of single-hop golden ales – Japan, Australia and the United States. Because of those three countries, the collection is called Battle of the Pacific. Each of the beers are named for hops from that country – Sorachi Ace (Japan), Ella (Australia) and Chinook (United States).

2) The series came about a bit by chance. Brewer Chris Sewell only started at Illawarra a few months ago and has been getting up to speed on the core range. With a chance to create his first beer for Illawarra, he went looking for ingredients but found he couldn’t get the hops he needed. So he looked at the hops he could get his hands on and then thought about what he could do with them. What he could do is create a trio of golden ales with the same malt bills and the same dryhopping schedules – the only difference being the hops that are used.

3) I find single-hops beers are a great source of education. So often with beer it can be hard working out what each ingredient brings to the party. When everything bar the hops are the same, you can really focus in on what the hops bring and exactly what flavours and aromas they throw.

4) That’s what drove Sewell to use Ella in the Australian beer. He’d tried Ella before, but it was always combined with another hop so it was hard to zero in on exactly what its qualities were. So he had a lot of brewery fermenter tanks at his disposal, so he decided to find out.

5) Sorachi Ace seems to be a polarising hop. It can inspire a strong degree of dislike – more so than I’ve seen from any other hop. I’ve been a fan of it ever since I tasted that Robot Ninja lager. I’ve always only ever tasted lemony notes with Sorachi Ace, but have seen dill also used as a descriptor. That was until I tried the Illawarra Brewing Company beer, which definitely throws dill. Now you might not like your beers tasting like dill, but I reckon it still goes all right.

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