The Morning Bulletin - - WEEKEND - MY SHOUT WORDS: SI­MON IRWIN myshout@news­re­gional­me­dia.com.au

In what has be­come a bit of an an­nual oc­ca­sion, Hugh the Neigh­bour and I sat to taste and com­pare this year’s re­lease of the James Squire Hop Thief (num­ber 9) to last year’s re­lease (num­ber 8).

Hop Thief, for those not in the know, is an Amer­i­can West Coast-style pale ale, that each year is made us­ing a dif­fer­ent blend of hops.

I first re­mem­ber pay­ing at­ten­tion to Hop Thief 6 which was made with Sim­coe and Colum­bus hops, fol­lowed by HT7 (Gal­axy and Mo­saic hops), and then HT8 (Crys­tal and Cas­cade hops). Hop Thief 9 is based around citra lupulin and ca­lypso hops, and is a wor­thy suc­ces­sor to the line.

Pour­ing a clear deep­ish am­ber in the glass, it de­liv­ers a good whack of fruit on the nose. In the mouth, you get real cit­rus flavours how­ever there is a back­bone of malti­ness that sep­a­rates this from some of the mouth-puck­er­ing pale ales from the US and many pro­gres­sive craft brew­ers in Aus­tralia.

Hav­ing kept a cou­ple of bot­tles at the back of the fridge from the Hop Thief 8, Hugh and I were able to con­trast the dif­fer­ence the se­lec­tion of hops can make to a beer – and the dif­fer­ence is con­sid­er­able.

HTN ac­tu­ally pre­ferred the num­ber 8 to this year’s of­fer­ing (although he reck­ons his favourite was the num­ber 7 from the year prior) and I could see what he meant as the malts were more pro­nounced in the num­ber 8.

Hop Thief is a pleas­ant tip­ple, and I reckon re­ally worth try­ing every year just to ap­pre­ci­ate the dif­fer­ence in­gre­di­ents make to what is ba­si­cally the same process done over and over a again. Give it a try this sum­mer.

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