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  • Co-operative Harvest Ale

    October 6th, 2010FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, Brown/chestnut ales

    Beers these days are hoppy. Well, I reckon they probably are more hoppy than they used to be. Hoppy hoppy hoppy. Such…an easy word to use. And such a generalisation. I never wrote about beer 20 years ago. I was a young Yorkshire lad acclimatising to life in North Oxfordshire, still a decade or so away from being able to legally drink. But I don’t reckon the bitters were as hoppy nor the hops as citrusy. Hopback Summer Lightning was as young as I was, yet to influence the brewing scene in ways its creators couldn’t imagine.

    But Summer Lightning and the US craft revolution have definitely had an impact on the direction of contemporary beer. It’s got paler and it’s got hoppier, right?

    Very occasionally I’ll read beer tasting notes waxing lyrical about yeast or malt character, but still the hop talk outweighs the discussion of other ingredients 10 to 1. Hell will freeze over before we see tweets raving about how the mineral content of water affects mouth feel.

    Well here’s a beer to shout about, and not because of hops. Co-op Harvest Ale.

    This beer is malt! malt!! malt!!! and it’s appropriate that Harvest Ale is associated with the UK’s largest farmer. Barley steals the show, imparting in the conker-coloured liquid sweet caramelised wisps of nut and traces of fertile crop growing soil.

    But what’s interesting about Co-op Harvest Ale is that there’s something edgy about it. Behind the obvious cara-malt-offee mask there’s an air of earthy spice provided by the home grown hops and this places it definitively in the section for autumn beers (some beers brewed for autumn get their equinox wires crossed, but this one does not!)

    Harvest ale can mean a few things. There are paler examples and more robust, darker examples. Co-op have created the latter and despite chestnut ales not claiming the level of column inches that fashionable styles such as IPA do, this example brewed by Freeminer Brewery is more than worthy of a few words here.

    Co-operative ales: underrated

    Co-operative ales: underrated

    Beer information:
    Beer: Harvest Ale
    Brewery: Co-operative / Freeminer
    Style: Chestnut Ale
    ABV: 4.8%
    Country: New Forest, England


    Mark is better known as @fletchthemonkey and started writing about beer in 2009. When not content with spending all day on the internet working in digital for an multichannel retailer, Mark waxes lyrical at and types up match reports for Leeds Guide magazine.

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2 responses to “Co-operative Harvest Ale” RSS icon

  • Many thanks for the review!
    My aim with this beer was to reflect the sentiments of Warminster maltings, Warminster, England: “Malt is the table on which all else is set” it was where we malted the barley for the beer.

    Slight geographic glitch though, Freeminer is in the Forest of Dean, a completely different Forest to the New Forest.



  • Don, great to hear from you!

    That’s the second geographical error I’ve made this week, funny thing is my notes all say Forest of Dean so not sure what happened there, apologies!

    I saw a great quote about English folk being described as ‘sons of malt’ these days. I guess that makes our friends over the pond ‘daughters of hops’ or something?!



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