When London brewer Fuller’s decided to launch an all-new permanent cask ale to its core range for the first time in more than 20 years it was fitting that it called it Discovery.
For what it set out to do was to find the perfect hybrid beer – a beer with the properties that would appeal to a lager drinker while not alienating traditional cask ale drinkers in general and Fuller’s drinkers in particular.
The search for this Holy Grail of beer isn’t a new one, but Fuller’s set about it methodically and thoroughly. It was, recalls the company’s beer and brands director John Roberts, a slow process.
“I don’t know how many different hops we tried,” he says. “But it was a lot. We knew what we were trying to do. We wanted to move away from the traditional flavours associated with other Fuller’s brands. It wasn’t just a case of getting the right flavour profile but also creating a drink that appealed outside our core market.
“What we ended up with was a zesty and refreshing drink and that’s because of the inclusion of the Liberty hop.”
Head brewer John Keeling says that the beer developed from the company’s normal product development process and the tasting group had taken its lead from what it saw as trends in the market.
“We had seen a trend towards lighter beers in terms of colour and taste,” he says. “We looked at what worked with our Summer Ale and took some of those characteristics. For instance, we used wheat as opposed to just our normal style of 100 per cent malted barley. And we went for the slightly citrusy grapefruit flavour.
“Most of all we wanted a beer that had drinkability so that drinkers would feel like a second after they’d had one.
“That’s why we looked at the American hop Liberty. Other brewers are experimenting with American hops and they have tended to favour Cascade but for us that was too dominant. We wanted something more subtle. And I think it is fairly unusual to combine Liberty with the Czech hop Saaz as we did. But for us it gave us subtlety and balance.”
The way the hops are used is another factor on Discovery’s taste. Forty five kilos of Liberty are added to the boil just two minutes before the end, while six kilos of Saaz are put in from the start.
The resulting beer certainly seems to be turning heads. Discovery is a blonde beer that combines Liberty hops with Saaz and contains malted wheat and Carapils and Pale Ale malts.
It is best served chilled or at cellar temperature, is extremely palatable and, in a reverse of the trend towards stronger premium ales, has an ABV of just 3.9%, giving it legs as a session beer while positioned in the premium beer market.