Oakham Ales, Green Devil
Oakham Ales have always been good at staying one step ahead of the crowd.
“Over the years I have built up a really strong relationship with a section of hop growers in the USA. I go over on an annual basis to select the best hops I can find. Because of that relationship we were the first UK brewery to launch a single varietal beer using the Citra hop in November 2009” explains Production Director John Bryan.
Just about every bobble hatted, bearded brewer and his dog have been after the Citra hop (and all the potent, tropical fruit flavour it offers), since. Unlike Oakham, they often can’t get hold of it. John always knew that would be the case… “In my view, the hops from the States are the best in the world.They have a fruity, resiny quality to them. It’s only by going to the farms and tasting that you can get a complete picture of what’s available - and perhaps sometimes get access to a new flavour before anyone else. I tend to always aim for consistency in our beers too. So, for example, the Cascade hop which we use in our Bishops Farewell has come from the same field on the same picking for the past few years – and I’ll select it from a blind tasting. The growers lay bets on me now! I do my utmost to select the very best and stay true to the taste of our beers. That’s why, I think, our drinkers stay loyal.”
Launched in 1993, Oakham Ales moved from the town bearing its name to Peterborough five years later. A few major expansions later and the 45-strong team at Oakham are now exporting their beers to Hong Kong, Slovenia, Romania, Italy and Australia. They have a six barrel showpiece at The Brewery Tap, also in Peterborough, which claims to be Europe’s biggest brewpub.
It’s the beers brewed with 100% USA grown Citra that they’ve built their reputation on and Green Devil IPA is the ultimate expression of their innovative and pioneering use of the hop.
It kicks off with an amazing hop harvest aroma bursting with passion fruit, pineapple and mango before developing a refreshing citrus bitterness and a crisp, dry aftertaste.
It’s a beer that has become a bit of a cult classic in the craft beer world. For good reason too. Will Hawkes, our favourite beer writer, got it bang on when he described Oakham as “Groundbreaking but grounded”. Let’s just hope the ensuing global hop shortage doesn’t change that. We’ve a feeling that if there was one hop plant left growing in the USA, John would be bringing it home with him.