Hop Thief turns a paler shade

RS44653_H_6pk Basket S8 SKUVThe new James Squire Hop Thief has made the most significant recipe shift in the history of the series, according to Malt Shovel head brewer Chris Sheehan.

Officially released today, the colour of Hop Thief 8 is now in keeping with the standard specification for an American Pale Ale, Sheehan told Australian Brews News.

After previously maintaining a malt bill that was largely unchanged, Sheehan said the new direction is in response to feedback that Hop Thief was too dark.

“There’s been tweaks to very, very minor extents but we’ve changed it very significantly this time, backing out the crystal malt in favour of munich malt,” he said.

But Sheehan stressed that the gravity or body of the beer is identical to previous releases, offering the same full mouthfeel of Hop Thief 7.

“We’ve bumped up the bitterness only slightly. What the crystal brings is probably a little bit of malt sweetness, that’s come off a bit,” he said.

Sheehan said the new malt bill should also ensure Hop Thief 8 stands up well over time, which is important for a beer that is now so widely distributed.

The beer employs Cascade hops, a hallmark of the American Pale Ale style, together with Crystal hops (not to be confused with crystal malt).

“The Crystal hops bring a little bit more grassy spiciness to the beer,” Sheehan said.

He said Hop Thief 8 has a hard act to follow in its predecessor Hop Thief 7, which sold more than 1.9 million litres last year, as well as Hop Thief 6, which had a “cult following”.

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