|Why was my Pale Ale leaning?!|
So when the invitation arrived to the launch of two more new Fourpure beers, I knew I wanted to be there. We weren't at the brewery this time but at Mother Kelly's, a relatively new and very popular (except with real ale stalwarts, as it's keg and bottle-only) bar in increasingly hipster Bethnal Green. It has to be said this is a lot more accessible than the brewery, which is on an industrial site at the far end of the Bermondsey beer mile, invisible and not signposted from the road, so unless you know where you're going you won't find it easily.
The new beers this time were a draught American-style wheat ale called Skyliner, a dry-hopped version of Fourpure's well-regarded (and canned) Pils, and a semi-secret second draught beer, a 3.7% sour ale called Hoptart.
I went for the Hoptart first, finding it refreshing and cleansing, and rather like a hoppier than average Berliner Weisse. Head brewer John Driebergen conceded the latter, adding though that he while was "borrowing Berliner Weisse techniques, I'm not making a Berliner Weisse. Other aspects of it are borrowed from Session IPA, British golden ale, and so on.”
"Why not do something sessionable that's also sour? Sour beer is only going to grow," John said. "My one worry is that people jump on the sour bandwagon and send beer out that isn't ready and without knowing what microorganisms are still alive in it - those things can live anywhere, including the beer lines."
Moving on, I was expecting Skyliner to resemble the hopped-up Weizens that the Germans call Hopfenweisse, but this lacked all those fruity and spicy Hefeweizen notes. Instead it offered some grass and lemon and a bit of a grainy note, followed by an astringent bitterness that overpowered the rest. Not really my thing!
To my surprise, the star of the three was the dry-hopped Pils. I'm used to Pilsners being samey and/or relatively one-dimensional, so I rarely seek out the style, but this one was right up there with the best of the new-wave German Hopfenstopfer (dry hopped) lagers. Pleasant leafy and herbal aromas lead you into a malty and lightly bready body, with grassy and citrus hops and a firm yet balanced crisp bitterness.
Fourpure is now brewing up to eight times a week – it has a 20-barrel kit and eight fermenting vessels – and whatever it brews is already half-sold, John told me. Indeed, where two years ago I marvelled at how much empty space they had, they now need more room.