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Union power drives new Marston's IPA

Added: Tuesday, November 10th 2020

Marstons N0 3

Marston’s has launched a new beer – Horninglow No 3 – in its limited edition range of beers. No 3 is a double dry hopped IPA that pays tribute to the heavily hopped style known as New England IPA – NEIPA – brewed on the East Coast of the United States.

In common with all the beers in the Horninglow collection, No 3 is brewed in the historic Burton Union system in Burton-on-Trent. The unions are a system of interlinked oak barrels with yeast troughs and swan neck pipes and are home to Marston’s legendary Burton pale ale, the cask and bottle-conditioned Pedigree.

No 3 is the third limited edition beer in the Horninglow Collection, launched in 2019 and it follows an IPA and an Imperial Stout. All three beers are 7.4 per cent. The recipes for the beers are created in Marston’s 600-pint nano brewery called DE14, the post code of the brewery – Horninglow is the area of Burton where the brewery is based. The small kit allows Marston’s brewers to experiment with their choice of ingredients and styles of beer. The beers are then transferred across the brewery yard to the giant brew house with the Union sets, dubbed the “Cathedral of Brewing”.

Patrick McGinty, Marston’s head brewer (below), says: “Horninglow No 3 has been bottle conditioned to keep the beer’s flavours and aroma at their peak. The magical fermentation happens in the Burton Union system in 24 interlinked 150-gallon oak barrels known as the Burton Union ‘set’. This historic process invigorates the yeast, clarifying the beer and leaving unwanted flavours and dead yeasts behind.

“The beer ferments in the sets for a five further days, with the yeast bubbling for the initial two to three days through the stainless steel swan necks – like shining periscopes – into a yeast trough above. This offers a CO2 protection for the beer and unlocks the beer’s special flavours. The Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Columbus and Mosaic hops deliver a fragrant bouquet from some of the most intense fruit-forward hop varieties.”

McGinty

Patrick adds that the malt grist includes extra pale malted barley, malted wheat for its crisp, soft flavours and the beer’s head retention, and malted oats for silky smoothness and a velvety texture. The grains are mashed with Burton spring water that has percolated through gypsum beds in the Trent Valley.

“The beer is dry hopped in two stages,” he says, “before final cold conditioning for three days locks the hop flavours and subtle malt aromas into the beer. Beers brewed in wooden barrels are a rarity these days and it’s been a joy to brew these beers in oak.”

The complete Horninglow series will be bottle conditioned, giving the unpasteurised beers the potential to develop flavours for years in bottle. A beer’s lifespan will vary according to many factors, such as alcoholic strength, hop rates and the yeast. As the alpha acids in hops recede, the balance of the beer will change as the hops die back and the malts and other flavours compounds come to the fore.

This ageing process and its creation of new flavours and complexities is appreciated in wine but rarely talked about in beer, where the duo of hops and malts can arguably give more scope for flavour development than is possible with grapes alone.

Horninglow No 3 has honeyed malt on the nose with a fruity note reminiscent of that old confectionery known as orange and lemon slices. Mangoes are also present while the hops add a pine and herbal note. Tart fruit dominates the palate but there’s a fine balance of bitter and herbal hops and biscuit malt. The finish has continuing herbal and spicy hops, citrus fruits and cracker biscuits, with a bitter and hoppy finale.

32,000 individually numbered bottles are available in 300 Waitrose stores at £4 per 50cl bottle, each packaged in a smart box. Don’t delay in buying some for when it’s gone, it’s gone to make way for Horninglow No 4, an ESB or Extra Special Bitter.

Below: the Burton Unions

Burton Unions