This past weekend saw the release of the keenly awaited collaboration between two of Joburgs best breweries: Mad Giant and Frontier Beer Co.
Mad Giant are fresh off winning the title of best beer in Africa with their Killer Hop Pale Ale at the African Beer Awards, and a series of great collaboration beers with the likes of Aegir Project, CBC and Clockwork Brewhouse. Frontier recently won silver medals at the SA National Beer Trophy for their collaborations with Hazeldean Brewing Co. and Stimela Brewing Co. So, neither of these breweries are strangers to the collaboration brew. As Brendan Hart from Frontier says: “Each brewer has different knowledge bases. With collabs, you always end up doing things you wouldn’t do on your own… It’s always a learning experience.” Another common link these breweries have is that neither are afraid of using hops. It’s no great surprise then that their collaboration produced a New England IPA (NEIPA).
Inspired by the new wave of breweries pushing the boundaries of the style (Verdant, Cloudwater et al) they set out to brew “the best damn New England IPA in South Africa” with the appearance of a bright, glowing orb, tight white head, full mouthfeel and a beer that bursts with juicy flavour and aroma from the hops. “I don’t think anybody in South Africa has cracked it to the level of what the guys in the States and the guys like Verdant (in the UK) have achieved so we wanted to give it a bash,” says Eben Uys from Mad Giant.
As far as the recipe goes, it follows a lot of the hallmarks of the style – A grain bill including a large portion of high protein grains such as oats, flaked wheat, malted wheat and flaked barley to contribute a full, smooth textured mouthfeel, and contribute to the characteristic NEIPA haziness. For hops they used Mosaic, Citra, and Southern Passion at a very healthy rate of 20g/L. No hops were added during the boil, with the bulk of the hops being added during the whirlpool at 76C, followed by multiple dry hop additions. The desired result is a bright and juicy hop flavor and aroma with low bitterness compared to a classic west coast IPA. A New England / East Coast Ale yeast strain, sourced from Liquid Culture, the new yeast suppliers on the block, was used to obtain the characteristic ester profile and lower attenuation desired in a NEIPA.
So how did it turn out? Both Eben and Brendan are happy with the results, though they do think there is room for improvement. While it is a hop bomb with the juicy intensity they were going for, the beer inexplicably dropped clear during maturation and as a result has lost a bit of the luscious mouthfeel and the haziness they were aiming for. Both agree, however, that the flavour, aroma and bitterness contribution from the hops are spot on and the yeast contributed a good level of peach esters to round out and add complexity to the fruity and juicy flavor profile. The beer also attenuated more than expected and ended up at a pretty serious 7.2% ABV, a number they would like to reduce to around 6.5% to enhance drinkability. The good news is that this does not appear to be a once off and both brewers are keen to brew this again with some minor adjustments to ingredients and process to get closer to that ideal NEIPA that they were aiming for.
That said, very little has been packaged for trade. Most will be served in kegs at Mad Giant and Fourways Farmers Market. Keep an eye on each breweries social media accounts for outlets and get yourself some before it is all gone.
Photos: Alice Walsh