ONE of the biggest success stories of the past few years has been the growth, acceptance and availability of the James Squire range of beers from the Malt Shovel Brewery. Doesn't really matter where you rock up across this wide brown land, you will probably be able to find either a stubbie or can, or indeed beer on tap.
It has become the go-to beer when you want something with flavour and depth.
Also, the range is broad enough that you can find one that suits your palate. In my neck of the woods, as mentioned before, Hugh the Neighbour favours the Chancer Golden Ale, while I prefer the 150 Lashes Pale Ale.
Their annual seasonal release of the Hop Thief, now at version 8, is another example of Squire's constant development of product to tempt new palates.
Which brings me to the Hop Father - a new seasonal release for this summer. Apparently developed with the assistance of two descendants of James Squire himself, this brew celebrates Squire's production of the first hops in Australia.
HTN and I thought we would give the Hop Father a try, and to make it interesting, taste it along with Hop Thief 8, a beer we both enjoy.
A pale ale, the Hop Father is a bit stronger tasting than the 150 Lashes pale ale, with more hoppy bitterness and a big mouthful of malt. It is indeed a very enjoyable drop.
Now, it may have been that both Hugh and I had spent time in the blazing sun mowing our respective lawns, thus causing thirsts that would be best described as prodigious, but the first two slid down really easily.
The surprise came when HTN and I compared the Hop Father and the Hop Thief and found, to our parched tastebuds anyway, there is not much difference between the pair of them.
This is not a bad thing, by any stretch. However it does make one worry just the tiniest bit that sometimes beers may be made to justify a label rather than necessarily add to the standard. That said, the Hop Father is a lovely drop and well worth the fridge space.
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