New Beer from Spearhead Brewing

Spearhead Brewing of Kingston, Ontario just issued its latest release, Collider Fusion IPA. It is a collaboration with Sam Roberts Band, the Canadian rock band Spearhead has worked with before, viz. on Sam Roberts Band Ale.

(Sample kindly provided by Spearhead Brewery).

The hops used include Brewer’s Gold, an early hybrid hop released after World War I by Professor Ernest Salmon of Wye Agricultural College. Long a staple for ale brewing, its relatively high alpha acid values were finally superseded by newer varieties.

Yet the hop is still produced, and I’m glad of it. Despite its partial New World roots – a wild Manitoba cutting was married with an English cultivated variety – and despite similar hybrids often tasting quite North American (think sourish wild fruit, a little coarse) – Brewer’s Gold tastes quite traditional English.

Maybe too it adapted due to all the years of cultivation since development, cultivation at least in Europe. Current stocks carried by, say, by hop merchant Charles Faram were grown in France and Germany.*

The resultant character explained its early success in British and Continental brewing.  Personal note: when travelling with beer bard Michael Jackson in French north country beerlands, early 1990s, many breweries we stopped at used Brewer’s Gold. There were only some 20 breweries still producing, pre-craft that is.

Indeed I think it was the first time I heard the term used.

 

 

Each brewer pronounced it “Brouver’s Gold”, so rendering the w as v. I believe this is because the w in Flemish and Dutch spoken past the border comes out that way. But this was a key hop used in the Bières de Garde then making the reputation of French artisan brewing.

(The other hop used, as I recall, was usually Alsatian or German).

For Collider Fusion IPA, Brewer’s Gold was paired with Eclipse, released in the last couple of years in Australia. A brilliant hop, it has ringing mandarin orange notes, supplemented by (descriptions vary) pine, citrus, and blackberry.

The marriage with Brewer’s Gold was proverbially made in heaven. The English values of the latter match perfectly with the orangey notes of Eclipse. After all some English hop cultivars have a decided orange tang.

The malt is not specified but the colour suggests a traditional two-row English type, or malt sympa to this profile. Ergo, a result very much “English ale”. At almost 5% abv it drinks very well to be styled either pale ale or IPA, viewed that is in UK terms.

New World hop influence is there too, but more subtley. Maybe a touch of black pepper. A low carbonation contributes to almost a cask-conditioned effect.

Not too sweet, not too dry, you finish the can, and, where’s the next one.

To my mind this is an English IPA style, but names take you only so far. What’s in the can counts, like for a band’s final mixdown.

*Some Brewer’s Gold is cultivated in the U.S. as well.

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “New Beer from Spearhead Brewing”

  1. Ballantine Ale featured Brewers Gold hops.
    https://brookstonbeerbulletin.com/beer-in-ads-2642-backyard-time-with-ballantines-brewers-gold/
    I had one can of the Newark-brewed Ale in the early 70s. It had a powerful hop character.
    Later owners of the Ballantine brand have used the Brewers Gold name, possibly just as a brand extension (BeerAdvocate listing for Ballantine Brewers Gold Ale from about 2016).
    I believe I used some Brewers Gold hops in homebrew in the 70s.
    I enjoyed your reminiscence about Montreal in the 50s. I am a couple of years older than you and have similar feelings about the big changes in my old home town.

    Reply

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