They say…

Des de Moor
Best beer and travel writing award 2015, 2011 -- British Guild of Beer Writers Awards
Accredited Beer Sommelier
Writer of "Probably the best book about beer in London" - Londonist
"A necessity if you're a beer geek travelling to London town" - Beer Advocate
"A joy to read" - Roger Protz
"Very authoritative" - Tim Webb.
"One of the top beer writers in the UK" - Mark Dredge.
"A beer guru" - Popbitch.
Des de Moor

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Hop Back Crop Circle

ABV: 4.2%
Origin: Downton, Wiltshire, England
Website: www.hopback.co.uk

CAMRA North tasting February 2010

Crop Circle

Hop Back have grown into one of the major British craft brewers with an innovative but cannily targeted range of speciality ales led by the trendsetting Summer Lightning, and a strategy that pursues the takeout trade through reliable bottle conditioned supplies to supermarkets as well as cask ale drinkers. Crop Circle is one of those take home beers particularly aimed at warm days where otherwise a can of anaemic mass produced lager might fall to hand.

Back when I first started taking tasting notes, I was rather unkind to Crop Circle, noting it was refreshing but so was water, and wondering if the urge to lure drinkers raised on blandness had gone rather further than meeting them halfway.

But when putting together the list for the CAMRA North London beer tasting I decided to include it as a different and contrasting taste, a reliable example of a British wheat beer that nods to both German and Belgian models, using malted rather than unmalted wheat like the former but adding coriander for spicing like the latter. Besides barley malt and wheat malt the grist includes flaked maize and the hops are an interesting blend of British and Middle European, including Pioneer, East Kent Goldings, Tettnanger and Žatec.

It’s a hazy pale golden beer with a good but not especially thick white head and a rather strange and singular aroma of coriander, citrus, sulphur and more than a hint of flour paste. The crisp dry cereal palate is again a bit pasty and also a bit thin with some odd metallic flavours, a definite but not overstated coriander note, plenty of citrus fruit and some gritty minerals. A dry, creamy, lightly hoppy finish has more herbs and citrus, with a definite bitterness developing from slightly metallic hops. It’s a bit of an oddity – the brewery claims the inclusion of flaked maize “hints at crisp corn flavours” but I find the pappy quality it lends a little offputting.

My tasters hummed and hah’ed – one of them really liked it; most thought it interesting but not for them. Someone observed that on the right occasion, for example relaxing after mowing the lawn on a hot summer’s day, a well-chilled bottle would be just the job – exactly the sort of application I imagine the brewers had in mind.

Read more about this beer at ratebeer.com: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/hop-back-crop-circle/1240/

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