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Last night the team met up in the Star for their weekly editorial meeting, covering such important subjects as where to watch Sunday's Grand Prix and the upcoming England and Germany match. While we were there we naturally had to sample the beers on offer, and I, for one, found an offering that I considered a classic of its type, but after a bit of research has confused me a bit.

I consider myself as fairly well educated in hops, and their tastes, but as readers will have realised I tend to lean towards the more aggressive hops of the Northern USA or the South Island of New Zealand, rarely do I mention the wonderful hops that England produces. But I digress. The beer was Holdens ' Shaft Spragger'.

I am not generally a fan of Holdens beers, I find they are too biscuity or caramelly tasting for my liking, so I just took a half of it. Suddenly, after a couple of mouthfulls the wonderful aroma of fresh apples took over and I found a beer I really liked. Not malty, but just light, with a subtle hop bitterness and not only did it smell of green apples, it tasted of them as well. So, armed with a pint I set about some research.

'GOBBS' guide destroyed my first assumption. I wasn't a new beer, but had been about for a good few years also only brewed occasionally. My second assumption has also caused me a bit of consternation. 'GOBBS' showed it brewed with Bramling Cross hops. I was quite prepared to accept this until I have checked up on the hop this morning as a basis for this article.

Bramling Cross is shown on various websites as being low in alpha acid, (between 5 and 7) so it does not have the astringent bitterness sometimes found in hops from the New World. What they also say is that it produces tastes of summer fruit such as blackcurrant, not apples. I do recall other beer brewed with Bramling Cross that does produce the blackcurrant flavour, Dark Star 'Winter Solstice' being one, Otley '08' being another, but this did not fit the taste I recall from them. So I set about working my way through hop lists to find one that produces an apple taste, I could not find one. So maybe it was Bramling Cross but it just gave a different flavour in this case. I may never find out. Or maybe I could.

A check of the Holdens brewery website provides the answer. It is brewed with Bramling Cross, and is their June seasonal beer. Holdens do not mention anything other than a fruity taste and the malty undertones I would have expected. Maybe with it being fresh on the bar the true nature of the beer had not developed or maybe Holdens have used it to provide a different result to that which the hop usually produces. I will have to keep checking it for quality control purposes and see if it does change.

However,I consider it to be a really fine beer.In my opinion,one of my beers of the year.Get it while you can, it won't be there long. Not if I have my way anyway !!