Stepping back from the controversy of my last post, and onto safer territory, I spent an enjoyable three and a half hours on Thursday evening at Tonbridge Fuggles.
The occasion was what used to be called a “tap-takeover”, but which now seems to be referred to simply as a “takeover”, by Five Points Brewing Co. Based in Hackney, Five Points have been brewing “beer that is unfiltered, unpasteurised and full of flavour”, since March 2013.
As well as showcasing five Five Points cask ales, plus four of their keg beers, the brewery chose Tonbridge Fuggles as the place to launch their new Green-Hop beer. This was quite a coup for Fuggles owner, Alex Greig, and for us beer lovers the evening provided the perfect opportunity to enjoy the excellent Five Points beers.
I met up at the bar with a couple of CAMRA friends, who suggested I go straight in on the Green Hop beer, as it was selling like hot cakes. I was glad I did, as it turned out to be one of the best Green Hop beers I have tasted this season.
The beer was only 3.7% ABV, but was packed full of flavour, with the resinous bitterness from the Bullion hops, perfectly matched against a background of sweet juicy malt. The hops are grown locally by Hukins Hops; a fourth generation farm that has been specialising in hops for over 120 years, and the hops used in the Five Points beer were taken straight from the bine to the brew-house.
I had the pleasure of meeting Ross Hukins a couple of weeks ago, when we were both judges at the Spa Valley Railway Green Hop BeerCompetition, so it was good to sample the firms wares in the finished beer.
After the Green Hop, I moved onto the 4.0% Five Points XPA (Extra Pale Ale). This was another excellent beer, pale in colour and with lots of citrus and tropical fruit flavours from the Citra and Galaxy hops used.
Fuggles itself was pleasantly busy, but still with enough seats for those who wanted to sit down. My two friends and I held an impromptu, post-event discussion on the SVR Beer Festival, which we were all heavily involved with. The consensus was it had been a success, with both attendance and beer sales well up on last year. There are still areas which need looking at and issues which need addressing, but all in all, we can pat ourselves on the back for pulling off another successful and highly enjoyable festival.
For my third pint of the evening, I went for a further pint of Green Hop, but the cask had already sold out. Instead, I opted for a complete contrast in the form of Brick Field Brown 5.4% ABV, the brewery’s take on a traditional English Brown Ale. Described as “well balanced, full bodied and packed with earthy aromas and flavours of Demerara and hazelnuts” The beer is brewed with British barley and Golden Naked Oats, and bittered with Willamette hops from the USA.
It certainly was a fine beer to finish on, although rather cheekily, I still had room for a half of the keg Five Points Pale 4.4% ABV, before time was called at the bar, and I made my way home through the fog.