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Mosaic You Can Shake a Stick At

As craft beer has grown and grown in popularity since the turn of the millennium, more punters have been fascinated with how their new favourite pints have come into being. With the craft sector prioritising the hands-on and nurturing approach to brewing, as opposed to the automated, mechanised oligarchy of ‘big brewing’, emphasis is placed on the unique qualities of the raw ingredients and how their skilful deployment contributes to the spectrum of flavours found in beer.

Hops – those delightful little cone-shaped flowers, packed with alpha acids – are to beers what a lead singer is to a rock band. Front and centre, all eyes (and noses and palates) on them.

Beers brewed predominantly with a particular hop can generate a substantial amount of anticipation purely on name value alone, and perhaps the most notorious of these is Mosaic.

American in origin, Mosaic burst onto the scene 10 years ago as a result of cross-pollinating 2 other different hop subspecies, Simcoe and Nugget. The result was a hop that imparted waves of tropical flavours with very low bitterness, allowing brewers to create mouthwateringly soft and fruity beers at a time when alcopops and cider were the go-to for younger adult drinkers.

Unlike Mosaic’s other American cousins, which when used in abundance have the pomp and bombast of a 4th July parade comprised entirely of citrus fruit, Mosaic can be smooth and pillowy, juicy and tropical, leading to some effortlessly quaffable beers. Just a handful of these can be found in the Beer Hall this April, which I’m unofficially calling Mosapril.

We don’t have to look far to find our first example. Kicking off Bowland Brewery’s seasonal calendar of limited releases is the eponymous Mosaic (yes, there will be a lot of beers called simply Mosaic in this piece, bear with it). The first recipe devised at Bowland by new lead brewer Lee Daniels, formerly of Manchester’s legendary Cloudwater, Bowland Mosaic is a crystal clear ultra pale ale that presents itself as liquid sunshine in the glass. Touches of oats and wheat in the grist contribute to the smooth body of the beer, but the aroma and flavour of fresh blueberries are what’s most remarkable about this beer. Incredibly refreshing and delightfully moreish.

From further afield we Mosaic Pale Ale from Stockport’s Thirst Class Ale. Here the ABV is dialled up to 4.7% giving the beer a bit more heft, but what’s more interesting here is how a different malt bill lets the mosaic hop shine in different ways. As opposed to the lush blueberry cascade in the Bowland, Thirst Class’ offering is packed with stone fruit flavours of mango and peach.

Merseyside’s truly awesome Neptune also have a Mosaic in their core offering. A middle-of-the-road strength of 4.5% lends a more sessionable quality, whilst also marrying the blueberry and mango notes seen above with a lick of orange and grapefruit. But then the O’Gradys go several steps further, knocking it well out of the park with Mosaic’s bigger sibling Double Mosaic. Weighing in at 7.4%, Double takes the fine balance of the original and amplifies it to the extreme. Double the malts, double the hops, and almost double the ABV. Every subtle note is intensified into a vibrant tropical kaleidoscope – this is the closest thing you’ll get to LSD.

To return to the rock band analogy, sometimes for the encore set a special guest is invited onstage for a duet. While we’ve looked exclusively at single-hopped beers so far, the introduction of a second hop in the boil can create new and exciting harmonies.

Macclesfield’s Redwillow Brewery blend Mosaic with another relatively young varietal, Idaho 7. Making its debut in 2015, Idaho 7 imparts the same tropical notes of mango and guava, but with an increased bitterness of pink grapefruit and pine. The resulting fusion of the two is a perfect balance of sweet and bitter, soft and tart, smooth and bitey.

Keep your eyes peeled on the pumps for these and many many more beers over the coming weeks. Have any thoughts? Is it more bubblegum than blueberry? Will you do the tango with the mango? Let us know what you’re drinking and what you’re thinking by leaving a rate and review on our Untappd page!

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