1) Reviewing a James Squire beer is a tricky thing for a beer geek. Well, it’s a tricky thing for this beer geek at least. That’s because the Squire brewers don’t make these beers for me, they’re for the entry level beer drinker. They’re for the guy or girl who has been drinking mainstream lagers and is taking their first steps into the wider world of beer. So the Squire beers need to be, well, not too challenging so that moving from lager to – say – Squire’s The Chancer isn’t a big leap.
2) Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Entry level beers are crucial because they allow more people to move over to the craft beer side of the fence. For some people the step from a standard lager to an IPA or even a decent pale ale would seem too much – they try the IPA, think “okay, this craft beer thing isn’t for me” and go back to the lager. But give them a not-especially challenging beer like a James Squire and they can more easily start their craft beer journey.
3) Yeah, I know this may seem like I’m knocking Squire but I’m not. I’m happy to have them around. It’s just that, for a geek who has tasted so much of what the beer world has to offer, an entry level beer can seem a bit blah. So when drinking a new JS beer it’s worthwhile for me to remember “this was not made with me in mind” when it comes time to review it.
4) Which brings me to the new James Squire beer, made with the involvement of two descendants of the real James Squire. It’s called The Hop Father, in tribute to James growing the first hops in Australia in first decade of the 1800s, and it’s a “Celebration Ale” (whatever that means in terms of style).
5)While it is a nice beer, I’m not sure it’s the sort of beer they should have released in summer. With it’s malt-forward character of biscuit (more specifically Ginger Snap biscuits) and less noticeable hop presence it feels more like an autumn beer. Also, it does seem odd to put the word “Hop” in the beer name but not make the hops the centrepiece of the beer. That said, it’s one of the better beers in the Squire range.
Free or paid for?: The media company who looks after James Squire beers sent me two bottles. It’s always good to get more than a single beer to review, because the first one you drink is for work and involves much thinking and taking notes in a journal. When you get two beers, there’s one for enjoyment as well. And I enjoyed both bottles.
Categories: Beer of the Week
Interesting point, I have never thought of James Squire as an “entry level” craft beer, even though they were a huge part of me getting into the craft beer scene. It’s good to remember these sorts of things when reviewing a beer. With that in mind it may also be why it doesn’t taste as hoppy to a more experienced beer drinker as yourself? Just a thought.