In October every year we take stock of our annual supply of Kentish hops. Their's is a long journey from field to picking shed to packing shed to pocket. Then sampled and shipped to merchants, repacked (in handy, air tight mini-bales for year round freshness) and reshipped to GADDS'. We pay up front and store the lot cold just to ensure we get what we need, and get what we want.
And to celebrate this little stashing we take our pick from the two remaining olde English varieties, Fuggles & East Kent Goldings, and shove exuberant armfuls into a strong pale ale. The idea is to create a fairly extreme ale whose flavour is almost entirely formed from the hops, all the better to assess the season with. Hops go in the copper (early, late & last), the fermenter (shhh) and the maturation tank. After two months it is bottled (with a little saved for cask) and further matured until March whilst names are dreamt up and labels designed and printed. It's our very best vintage ale.
The 2007 Vintage is crafted from Goldings and tops 8% abv, with a gorgeous hop'n'alcohol aroma, powerful bitterness, delicate flavour and a light sweetness that will dry over the coming year - hoptastic in a thoroughly classy English way.
It's the kind of ale you'd drink while dining on venison, quail or pheasant (quorn versions, obviously) and I'm going to sell it to fine restaurants in the hope of reversing the current trend for wine. Back in the 19th century most fine ale was even fuller, more powerful and aged for far longer than today and there was little need for much wine.
..Yesterday's beer today because there is No Tomorrow..
I'm going to make a Burton Ale next year I think.