Life Begins At The Hop – Mallinsons

Tell me what do you say (tell me what do you say)
Tell me what do you say, I tell you
Life begins at the hop, boys and girls….” XTC – Life Begins At The Hop

It must have been over 10 years ago, when the mighty Jaz introduced me to Mallinsons’ beers. Fresh, clean, hoppy, bitter. Hooked, I never wanted throwing back in the river.

My introduction to SMASH (Single Malt and Single Hop) beers. Before SMASH beers were a thing. Ahead of the curve. With beers that lured me like a Siren onto hoppy rocks. Beers that you could drink repeatedly and never want to stop.

Women in a (supposedly) “Man’s World”. Beating the men at their own game, setting new rules for flavour in Session beers. When most others were playing with twigs. I’m a fan. To put it mildly.

I can’t remember when I first met the ladies that I now call “The Cocktail Twins”, but they made an impression and no mistake. As did their beers.

Beers that could be used as a reference point for the flavours of the hops that they use. Using (mostly) a Pilsner Malt base, if you want to know what Centennial, Chinook, Citra hops are supposed to taste like, grab a pint – or a bottle – and buckle up while they take you on a trip to flavourville.

Whilst they do – occasionally – up the abv ante, sometimes e even venturing into the Dark Side, these superlative Pales generally land somewhere firmly in “Session Beer” territory. In that sweet spot between 3.7% and 4.2% abv. You want a “Crushable” Beer? Then look no further.

There’s a reason why they’ve had a beer on the bar at each and every ISBF. Because they’re bloody marvellous. Tara, Elaine & Nick make some of my favourite beers. Including the best Single Hop Centennial Pale I’ve had. My Catnip hop. Singing like a lupuloid soprano. Made in Huddersfield.. Here are some beers….

Citra – 3.9%abv

Pours beautifully. Light golden, almost straw coloured, nice head retention with aromas of mango prominent at first sniff.

At first taste, the mango is certainly up there front and centre, soon joined by tart grapefruit, both fruity flavours matching off against each other in the mouth, the sweet tropicality of the mango duelling with the tart astringency of the grapefruit.

At 3.9%, this incredibly sessionable beer is absolutely bang in the middle of what I call the Mallinsons sweet spot. Session beers between 3.7 to 4.2%.

Further mouthfuls highlight that duel fruitiness, with the balance slightly favouring the grapefruit as that slight tartness leads to a very dry finish with pronounced bitterness – another characteristic of these Huddersfield beers.

Again. An examplar of what Citra is. A reference beer, given its SMASH credentials, with a clean, Pilsner malt base overlaid with this most aromatic of US hops.

A beauty.

Motueka – 4%

Another beautiful pour, with medium carbonation providing an ensuring soft white head, initial aromas of citrus, with a light yet distinctive lemon sherbet, with maybe a little orange in there somewhere.

First mouthful, and that orangey note on the nose is replaced in the mouth by more of a lime citrus sharpness with just a little initial lemon on first taste. The light Pilsner malt provides a perfect canvas for the hops to paint their colours of yellow and green.

The mouthfuls get larger. This beautiful Session Pale just slides down too easily. Incredibly refreshing, the citrus fruitiness leading to a punchy dry bitter finish.

Yet another Mallinsons lesson in highlighting the hop.

So light. So refreshing.

Party On – 4.1%

Ramping up the abv to a huge 4.1%, I’m now on one of the Mallinsons multi hop beers. This one features new UK hop CF182 for the bitterness, with (my personal catnip hop) Centennial and Chinook for aroma and flavour.

Again, a beautiful pour. It’s characteristic of Mallinsons bottles to have exceptional condition.

First nose? Not sure about the Chinook, I only have a nose for Centennial and the characteristic lemon sherbet tingle is there in full effect. Yum.

That first mouthful brings moderate carbonation for a lovely smooth mouthfeel leading you to the hop punch, initial sharp lemon then a good touch of grapefruit from the Chinook, the dryness on the finish just makes my hand reach for the glass for more.

This is beautiful. The typical very light, slightly biscuity, malt base providing a perfect platform for the hops to do their thing, tart citrus loveliness from the C hops. That fruitiness leading to a typical Mallinsons dry and bitter finish. Leaving you wanting more.

Just classic pale ales. It’s what this trio of brewers do. And – for me – they are the best in the country in lowish abv Session Pales.

Beer that tastes of beer. And is all the better for it.

You can find Mallinsons beautiful beers in most of the best Independent beer shops. Me? I looked at their website and saw something that I’d never considered before. A subscription.

6 different beers. 2 of each. £32. Delivered.

Yes. You read that right. The website is here

However you get your Mallinsons, just go treat your tastebuds. It makes sense. (And you can thank me later!)