For the second year running, Hackney's The Five Points Brewing Company has teamed up with Field Day to brew the superlative summer beer. The brief was simple: to produce a thirst-quenching and highly sessionable drink, ideal for, say, one of East London’s premier music festivals. Field Day is taking place at Victoria Park on Saturday the 3rd June 2017, but don't worry – the beer will stick around all summer long.
In 2016, the Five Points x Field Day partnership resulted in the Ten Points, a delicious extra pale that has since been inducted into the Five Points’ range as their XPA. The XPA recipe was slightly refined, making it a touch more bitter, but its ABV remains at 4%, resulting in a breezily, yet intensely flavoursome, choice. This year, there are two notable aspects to the collaboration: it’s a fruit beer – a first for The Five Points – and, well, cats. Yes, the cans are adorned with five feisty felines.
An obvious detour from the clean and consistent Five Points branding, the cats are all in good fun; they refer to this year’s Field Day branding, which prominently features fluffy friends. It’s irreverent, eye-catching and a conversation point; the five cats featured across the cans as a photograph set upon an orange sherbet background actually belong to members of the brewery (with the exception of one puss, Noodles, who is owned by the Field Day organiser). The cats will be rolled out one-by-one and currently Astrid, a black and white beauty with piercing green eyes, has been unveiled.
The visuals are only the beginning, though. The beer, Field Day Citrus Pale, saw the Five Points foraying into unfamiliar territory. Working alongside their good pals and neighbours, Square Root London, they acquired both grapefruit and Sicilian lemons in abundance. The former hailed from a farm that isn’t certified organic yet – but is on the cusp – and the lemons are organic. The zest from these prime ingredients was added to the beer in addition to Mosiac hops, another first for Five Points. Mosaic was selected for this venture because of its versatility and intensely fruit-forward qualities.
The Citrus Pale comes in at 4.2% and is clean and crisp, but don’t expect too much fruit character. Instead, the subtle hints of citrus are a background feature that linger nicely in the aftertaste. It’s accessible and refreshing, making it the perfect choice for a diverse crowd. The 16 BBL batch was split into two tanks and there’s talk of one being dry-hopped for even more prominent aromas and flavour. However, there’s a chance that the delicate grapefruit notes will be lost and that the final product will be hazier as a consequence.
Using fruit in a beer presents its own problems, mostly with issues of clarity – this has been overcome by extending the boil by 15 minutes. Because it would require lenghty periods of time in fermentation to clarify the beer further, the small amount of cloudiness has been embraced. And if you get a cloudy pint of Citrus Pale, you know that it’s fresh.
With a dry-hopped batch of Citrus Pale proposed, this will give the Five Points an opportunity to use their newly acquired hop gun, equipment that emphasises the aromas in a beer. The entire contents of a fermenter vessel is circulated through the hop gun, increasing the quantity of essential oils present in the finished beer. The circulation process takes a couple of hours and this is a substantial brewery investment that will result in more delicious beers for years to come. The brewery has also splashed out on a state-of-the-art lab, which will allow them to monitor quality and ensure consistency of their beers going forward.
With the inevitable success of the Citrus Pale in addition to their popular Five Points Pale and Pils, the final addition to the Five Points inventory comes as a relief to their space issues: a new arch, situated just next door from the brewery, has recently been acquired after lengthy negotiations with Network Rail. There’s now space for their barrel aging project, where the Railway Porter and Old Greg’s Barley Wine happily sits contained in wine barrels from Burgundy, France.
So we can relish a summer of moggy puns from the Five Points on social media. And seeing as there's a plethora of exciting developments going on behind the scenes too, even if felines don't take your fancy, there's a great deal to look forward to from the brewery. In the meanwhile, the Citrus Pale is a perfect way to welcome the Summer of 2017. Now if we could only find a sun beam to sprawl out in...
I was invited to taste the Citrus Pale by the Five Points, but this has not affected my opinions.