Behemoth’s ‘Clayton’ series of single hop-grower NZIPAs have won incredible recognition in the recent Brewers Guild Awards, reaping a mighty swag of three gold medals (including the trophy) and soundly dominating the New Zealand Styles category. The trophy winner was the ‘straight’ version, a conventionally hopped IPA (Motueka, Riwaka, Nelson Sauvin) that I will be examining in more detail in next month’s awards rundown — but this version, a mere gold medal winner, has been supercharged with Clayton Hops’ Nelson Sauvin fresh hop oil from the 2023 harvest.
Whether it’s the oil or just the regular hop bill, Nelson Sauvin leads the charge on the hugely pungent nose, with gooseberry and crushed blackcurrant leaf forward of sticky passionfruit and spritely citrus. The boisterous hop character bounces around the tongue, while the malt backbone holds course along the length of the palate, until the measured bitterness brings things under control.
It’s proof of how far hop oil development has come, that tasting this blind it’s unlikely I would have had any idea it had even been applied, perhaps beyond a lingering hoppy radiance that clings to the tongue. I still need to try the rest of the series, but this one judged purely on its individual merits is an exceptional New Zealand IPA.