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Florapalooza 7.2% NZ Flower Hopped IPA

Don't ever say we never give you flowers. Emerson's Brewery and Fork Brewing collab brew, Florapalooza 7.2% NZ Flower Hopped IPA, is a harmony of NZ dried hop flowers, used in both the kettle and dry hop stage - and it's now on tap! 

You don't need to give the brewers of Emerson's and Fork much of an excuse to come together for a bit of a brew jolly, but in this case there was an assignment behind the brew day.

Malthouse turns a big 25-years-old this year, and is celebrating with Project Silver, a year-long tap takeover series, which features a NZ brewery each month (normally one that has had a long-standing working relationship with Malthouse over the years). Already, they have seen Liberty and Tuatara, and next up featured the mighty Emerson's Brewery, one of the granddaddies of NZ's craft beer scene. 

Fork Brewing and Emerson's decided to join forces (as we said, you don't need to ask them both twice), and Fork hosted (Father) Chris O'Leary (Brewery Manager), and their stalwart lead brewer, Jim Falconer, a few weeks back to brew up something special for the occasion. 

"As with any collaboration, it starts off with an idea," says Kelly.

"Jim is a big fan of a beer called Thornbridge Halcyon, a 7.4% Imperial IPA brewed in Derbyshire, England. A beer that luckily reaches these shores quite often thanks to beer importers (and fine folk), Beertique.

"There is also another link to Halcyon - and that is me! This beer was developed back in late 2007 when I was one of the brewers at Thornbridge. I can even remember how the beer was named..."

(Cue squiggly, wiggly crossfade, like they used back in Wayne's World).

"At Thornbridge, we'd made a decision to brew a big IPA showcasing a mixture of English and European hop varieties, and were struck by some unseasonably warm weather.

"Stefano Cossi, who was head brewer back then, mentioned that it was an Indian Summer and we discussed what the other terms for this warmth were. One of the phrases that arose was Halcyon Days, and Stefano started talking about Kingfisher birds, which he had seen recently on his rambles through the Peak District. The genus of Kingfishers is Halcyon, so we put these two together and Halcyon was born! Back then it was 7.7%, which was quite a hefty strength for a cask beer!"

But back to now... With the beer to be inspired by Halcyon, which back then was a very simple grist of Maris Otter Pale Ale Malt and Lager Malt, it was time to come up with the recipe.

"And what better time to try out my new HopBomb, a special vessel I had designed, and then had made by fabrication genius, Chris Banks of Banks Brewing Hardware," says Kelly.  

"It acts as a steeping system for flower/cone hops to be used near the end of wort boiling, adding the aroma and flavour compounds of the flowers to the boiled wort."

After rubbing a load of the flower hops sourced from NZ Hops, we decided that the New Zealand-grown Fuggles was the star, with a lovely mix of floral and fruity notes, which we really wanted to transfer into the beer. This was combined with Pacific Jade (for bittering) and Kohatu flowers, as well as some liberal mineralisation with Gypsum, Epsom Salts, Sodium Chloride and Calcium Chloride and a nice warm ferment with the Fork house yeast strain.

Near the end of fermentation, large mesh bags of NZ Fuggles, Kohatu, Wakatu and Nelson Sauvin were prepared and placed in another vessel. The vessel was then purged with carbon dioxide to remove any residual oxygen and the fermenting beer was transferred on to these hops and left for five days for the fermentation to end.

"The core idea around this beer was to produce something that was refined, clean and full of floral and fruity elements from the use of NZ grown hop flowers. It was to be dry and drinkable and moreish. I reckon we succeeded!" says Kelly. 

As for the name... Colin Mallon, Director of All here at Fork and at Malthouse, came up with the multi-faceted Florapalooza. 'Flora' for the flower hops and the 'palooza' part from Lollapalooza, which is also one hell of a party.

"Combine the two and we get the perfect beer for a great celebration at Malty!" says Kelly.

"By coincidence, the statue that makes up the branding on the Thornbridge beers also happens to be Flora, Goddess of Flowers and she resides in the gardens at Thornbridge Hall, where I once brewed. Serendipitous? Absolutely."

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Florapalooza NZ Flower Hopped IPA Tasting Notes

Appearance – Deep golden with a firm white head.

Aroma – Fresh raspberries, mandarin peel and honeydew melon with light caramel malt notes tempered by ripe stonefruit.

Flavour – Soft malt and notes of Lemon Barley with stewed nectarines and a subtle booziness. A whisper of Amaretto is tempered by a slick mouthfeel, slightly dry finish and classic, building bitterness.

Malt – American Ale

Hops – Pacific Jade, NZ Fuggles, Kohatu, Rakau, Wakatu, Nelson Sauvin ( All flower hops used in the Kettle and the Dry Hop)

Other – Dextrose

Yeast – Fork house strain, warm fermented

AbV – 7.2%

Bitterness – Medium

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