Next summer marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the Moon, and Exmoor Ales of Wiveliscombe, Somerset, has started the celebrations early with Apollo, the latest release in their ‘Exile’ range, one of several small-batch, modern style beers introduced in 2017 and which differ from the brewery’s regular portfolio.
This is the fourth in the series and according to Exmoor Ales’ Managing Director and owner Jonathan Price, ‘it is by far the most powerfully hoppy bitter we have done. Assistant brewer Tom Davis, who joined us last year from Australia, is the main author of this beer and we all think he’s done a superb job’.
Orange-gold in colour, and 4.2% abv, Apollo uses three American hops in the blend, Apollo, Cascade and Willamette, the usage of which, according to Davis, ‘was a brilliant chance for us to go all-out and throw lots of American hops in and see where it took us. I have always loved New World pale ales and IPAs, especially those with Cascade and Willamette in combination, as I think they produce some wonderfully aromatic beers, with oodles of grapefruit and lychee character. So this was a great chance to do a New World pale ale, but in the Exmoor style!
‘Furthermore, with the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing coming up next year, we wanted to do something to celebrate this amazing achievement — bittering the beer with a variety named Apollo seemed like a good start! I knew this beer was going to work in the Exile range really well for us when some of the younger members of our team in the brewery tried it, and were raving about the grapefruit and mango aromas they were getting from it.’
Apollo is available through Wetherspoon’s and in the free trade throughout the Southwest and further afield, and it is yet another success in the Exile range as Price notes: ‘Exile beers have turned out to be a considerable success. Indeed, in EiGroup’s monthly guest cask beer slots, Exile brands have consistently been ranked number one in sales, bringing in more first time customers to the brewery’s beers.
‘Meanwhile demand in Southwest free trade pubs for the previous ‘Exile’ beer, Wicked Wolf, was so strong that we extended the planned one month run to three. The same has happened with Apollo, which was only due to be available just for July, but this too will be extended for three months until the next Exile brand is launched in October (Weizen, a clear wheat beer).
‘The ‘Exile’ brand is actually being perceived as something different and separate to the traditional Exmoor beers, and has opened up access to a market and certain pubs new to our supply. Typically, but not exclusively, pubs in urban areas.’
As Price says, the next ‘Exile’ issue will be Weizen in October, which is a pale straw-coloured wheat beer, but unlike traditional beers of this style (Weissbier, Witbier), it will not be cloudy or hazy.
‘The brewing team are having a good deal of fun with the ‘Exile’ brand,’ says Price, ‘and I’m certainly enjoying it, especially with Apollo. Having started my drinking in the Midlands with session beers that weren’t too hoppy, I expected that Apollo might be more like rocket fuel with its hops, but this was not so. It is definitely hop forward and distinctive, but I have enjoyed a couple of pints in a row, and wanted more.’
Exeter-based beer and travel journalist Adrian Tierney-Jones is the current Beer Writer of the Year and the author of many books on beer, including The Seven Moods of Craft Beer. He is also editor of Original Gravity and 1001 Beers You Should Try Before You Die, in which Exmoor Beast and Gold are featured, and he gave his verdict on the beer: ‘Bruised gold in colour this has a fragrant burst of tropical fruit on the nose, with a hint of citrus, all of which transfers to the palate alongside a bracing bitterness and an appetising dryness in the finish. Several pints will more than satisfy.’
For more details contact Jonathan Price at Exmoor Ales on
01984 623798 or at email@example.com
EXMOOR ALES started in 1980, during the first wave of small independent breweries. It was originally called Golden Hill, after its hill-top location in Wiveliscombe, and its creation brought brewing back to the town for the first time since the closure of Arnold & Hancock’s in the late 1950s. Almost immediately, Golden Hill made its mark on the beer world when its 13th brew of Exmoor Ale was voted Best Bitter at CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival in 1980. Since then countless other brewing awards have come their way. Exmoor Ales are also noted for being the originators of the ‘Golden Ale’ style, with the ever-popular Exmoor Gold, available in cask and in bottle. Other beers produced include the bestseller Ale, the wily easy drinking Fox and the cult strong porter Beast, as well as a variety of seasonal specials. In 2017, the brewery launched its ‘Exile’ range.
A selection of Exmoor Ales
ALE (3.8%): Classic bitter the colour of maple syrup. On the nose malt comes to the fore with a hint of citrusy hop in the background; a full, dry palate and a finish which offers more malt and a long lasting bitterness. Excellent on its own or with light meals such as salads, chicken and fish.
FOX (4.2%): Cunningly crafted from a blend of several malts and hops to produce a brunette beer of unusual subtlety and taste. The slight maltiness on the tongue is followed by a burst of hops with a lingering bitter-sweet aftertaste. Just right with fragrant Thai and Chinese dishes.
GOLD (4.5%): Soft malty nose with a hint of citrus hop in the background. Well-rounded and refreshing on the palate with a slight sweetness leading to a malty finish accompanied by a touch of toffee and vanilla plus a long aftertaste. Versatile golden ale to accompany any meal!
STAG (5.2%): Strong, copper-coloured premium bitter with resiny hop mingling with grainy, maltiness on the nose. A voluminous malty character stakes its claim on the palate though a well-fined rich fruitiness also comes along for the ride, before a thrilling descent into a long dry finish where a hint of sweetness keeps matters well-mannered. Especially good with roast beef and game.
BEAST (6.6%): Complex strong porter making liberal use of chocolate and crystal malts. On the nose espresso, currants and raisins, cocoa and a fiery hint of brandy or rum. More fruit cake, alcohol, coffee beans, chocolate on the palate, all kept in line with a spicy hoppiness, before the complex long aftertaste. Surprisingly thirst quenching with a spicy curry or a traditional steak and also add to rich fruit cake.
MILD (3.8%): A pure black traditional mild produced using only the finest English hops. Chocolate and toffee abound giving a bittersweet balance and a clean, refreshing finish. Just the beer to refresh with after a hard day’s work. ANTLER (4%): A smooth and warming dark amber beer. Nose of popcorn and soft toffee. Nuts and toffee on the palate spiked by light tropical fruit. Dry grainy/malty finish, typical of Exmoor beers, leaving the taste buds calling out for more.
HOUND DOG (4%): Light and refreshing dark-gold spring beer with a surge of lemon and lime on the nose, a touch of toffee and vanilla on the palate with an exquisite balance of fruity hoppiness and malt on the long finish. Delicious with fish and chips and other traditional bar meals.
DARK (4.2%): Dark amber in colour with crimson tints; crisp chocolate-like character in the mouthfeel, moderated by a blackcurrant smooth fruitiness — think a whisper of blackcurrant jam sweetness and a hint of chocolate spread, all kept from an overarching sweetness with dry toast-like and roasty notes. Crisp and dry finish. Roast duck, especially if the skin has been crisped, goes down a treat with a glass of Dark.
SILVER STALLION (4.3%): Chestnut-coloured best bitter with a full-bodied palate boasting a hint of blackcurrant; the initial grainy malty finish is followed by a growing bitter finish. Serve with Sunday lunch.
WILD CAT (4.4%): Warming amber coloured ale produced for the autumn. The nose has plenty of deep booming earthy hop notes on the nose, while the palate is malty with a touch of autumn berries and a dry finish with more muscular hop thrusting its way. Ideal with pasta and other Italian favourites.
EXMAS (5%): Ruby-coloured Christmas beer with a citrus and rich malty nose. The palate is smooth and fruity leading to a smooth finish with spicy and fruit hop notes lingering. A tasty toast to go with the turkey and trimmings.
WICKED WOLF (4.2%): Brewed in collaboration with Wicked Wolf Gin of Exmoor; golden in colour with a delicate hint of botanicals on the nose and palate, which works well with the light hoppiness; finishes dry.
URBAN FOX (4.2%): American-style IPA, dark golden in colour, with citrus and tropical fruitiness, with a dry and bitter finish.
WHAKATU (4.2%): Amber-coloured fruity bitter with a dry finish that makes use of the New Zealand hop variety Wakatu, as well as maize.
APOLLO (4.2%): Crisp bouquet of grapefruit, honey and pine thanks to the Cascade and Willamette hops; citrus notes appear on the palate, acing in conjunction with the hop-driven bitterness and a slight malt sweetness before finishing dry.
WEIZEN (4.2%): Pale straw-coloured and clear wheat beer.