Origin: Alresford, Hampshire, England
This beer featured in a piece about the influence of different malts on beer flavour on the bottled beer review page in the May 2011 issue of BEER magazine, sent free every quarter to CAMRA members, who can also view it online. The magazine is also available in selected newsagents.
Malted barley is one of the basic building blocks of brewing, the mainstay of practically all the world’s beers. Read any book that describes the brewing process in detail and you’ll find references to a bewildering variety of malts in a spectrum of shades from pale to black. But what does it all mean for the end user – the drinker? The five beers featured here might start to provide the answer.
Pale malt, kilned to achieve a pale colour alongside a good starch and enzyme content, is the brewer’s mainstay. 19th century export pale ales were often made of 100% pale malts and many craft lagers depend entirely on even paler Pilsner malt. But British preferences of the more recent past favoured slightly darker beers, achieved with a dash of more deeply coloured “speciality” malts alongside pale.
A good example of a pure pale malt beer is Itchen Valley Pure Gold (4.8 per cent) from Alresford in Hampshire. The barley variety in this case is top quality British mainstay Maris Otter, but the hops are slightly more exotic: Žatec (Saaz) from the Czech Republic and Cascade from the USA. The beer’s name refers not only to the recipe and appearance but to the gold bullion lost when the ship HMS Hampshire sank in 1916.
This fine, clear gold beer has a white head and liquorice and spearmint to an aroma that leads with hops, backed up by malty cereal notes. There’s plenty of sweetish, fruity malt on the palate, which is perhaps slightly too sweet, but lifted by hops to give citrus, mint, ginger and honeyed flavours. A clean, lightly drying finish is tinged with pineapple fruit.
To download BEER if you’re a CAMRA member, see http://www.camra.org.uk/page.aspx?o=beer.
To find out more about CAMRA membership, see http://www.camra.org.uk/page.aspx?o=joinus.
For more beers featured in this article, see Woodforde’s Nelson’s Revenge.
Read more about this beer at ratebeer.com: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/itchen-valley-pure-gold/18596/