Did you notice something different when landing on the site this week? I’ve tweaked the name of this little site just before we hit the fifteenth birthday in May.
Welcome to the new Australian Wine and Drinks Review.
I’m doing this because 2023 will see more than just wine discussions on these pages. There’ll be much more beer talk, for a start, but also a smattering of spirits, RTDs and more. I’m excited, to be honest because it feels like there are more stories to be told beyond just wine, and I want to tell more of them (when I get the time).
Let’s get started!
It’s been quite a rise for Melbourne’s Hawkers Brewery, with a story that traces back to the Middle East’s first craft brewery. The more recent history is about local indie craft, however, with Hawkers rising right up to be Champion Victorian & Champion Large Brewery at the 2022 AIBAs.
The beer that made this brewer famous was the Hawkers West Coast IPA, which scored two gold medals at the 2022 Indies alone. It’s also the house beer here at Graham HQ, where we appreciate the balance between classic WCIPA hop-forward aromatic glory, the just-right bitterness and an unquestioned freshness. The 375ml cans and affordable price also make it doable for almost daily drinking too.
Oh yeah, I’m a fan. We’re fans.
So when Hawkers announced they were bringing out a series of experimental releases to highlight the terroir of various hop farms, I was on the case almost instantly.
These three Hawkers Sheer Terroir series see Hawkers partner with hop legends Yakima Chief to highlight the expression of the Citra hop from three different farms across the USA.
Like a classic single vineyard wine expression series, the base beer recipe for each of these releases is near identical, meaning that the key differences are purely about where and how the hops are grown. The results are fascinating in their diversity too.
The only challenge here is that I found the beers rather severe, to the point of them not being all that pleasurable. The herbaceous hop expression of the Treasure Valley, in particular, reminded me of the most thiol-heavy Sauvignon Blanc, with the same angular expression on the palate. Indeed all three are almost painfully defined, the hop notes like tasting a single flavour in a dish that you can’t get past.
Yet as a thought exercise, and a vehicle for the expression of flavour and terroir, these are applause-worthy. More, please.
For reference, all three beers weigh in at 6.5%. There’s a deep well of context about the different farms on the Hawkers website if you want an even deeper dive too.
Hawkers Sheer Terroir Single Farm Willamette Valley West Coast IPA
Sourced from the Coleman Agricultural Gervais in Oregon. Easily my pick of the trio, this carries the passionfruit/gooseberry guava nose but with this extra push or nutty richness through the middle. It also has the most ‘full’ bitterness on the finish, too. I still want this to be a little more rounded and less stark. 3.5 stars.
Hawkers Sheer Terroir Single Farm Yakima Valley West Coast IPA
With hops from the Smith family Tributary Hop Farms farm in Yakima Valley, Washington. Interestingly I see more of this sour green edge here, rather than just a herbaceousness. Grassy nose, but not harsh, and the palate has a certain woody edge almost to the point of astringency. It’s a pretty firm sort of beer, but has enough freshness to be palatable. 3.5 stars.
Hawkers Sheer Terroir Single Farm Treasure Valley West Coast IPA
From the Jackson Hop Farm in Idaho. Aggressively herbaceousness to the point where the piney herbs are the only flavour. It’s a very serious sort of beer with angles at every turn. I can admire the definition, but I couldn’t finish a 440ml can. 3 stars.
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I think exploring regional hop profiles is an interesting idea, but it is more an intellectual exercise than the best beer that can be made. There is a reason that most IPAs aren’t single hop beers. Personally, I rather dislike Citra as I find it too sharp, but I seem to be in the minority there. Having spent a couple of months in the US at the end of last year I can confirm that Citra was everywhere. Interestingly, the other hop that seemed to be everywhere was Nelson -Sauvin which also isn’t a favourite.
If they do this with another hop, I’d be interested to try them though.