Abyss Brewing, from Lewes, created the Road Trip series to highlight hops that don’t get enough love elsewhere. This one uses Ekuanot, an unusual and complex hop that gives this beer a mix of citrus and earthy aromas. Road Trip Ekuanot is suitable for vegans but contains gluten.
You start going to beer festivals for the beer. But for me, at least, you come back for the people. The camaraderie you feel rubbing shoulders with other beer fans is something truly special.
The stress and tiredness after three days pouring drinks in close proximity could have created tension. Fortunately, even for a beer festival, the gang at Abyss Brewing is a delight to hang out with. The whole way through, we were swapping samples, cracking jokes, and passing punters from one stand to the other.
It didn’t hurt that they make stunningly good beers. Dank Marvin, a piney, juicy IPA, was delicious, as was their lemony and funky Kveik. But one beer captured my interest so much I had to bring it home for closer inspection.
Abyss brewed their Road Trip series to show off hops that don’t get enough love. Previous iterations have showcased Centennial and Comet, but this edition contains a single hop I’ve only come across very rarely before: Ekuanot.
Ekuanot’s a bit unfamiliar. To me, it sounds like a Soviet ocean explorer, which probably shows how little I’ve come across it before. Some cursory googling tells me Ekuanot brings aromas of lemon, lime, papaya, apple, sage, eucalyptus, and cedar. This looks suspiciously like a long enough list of flavours that this beer might taste of anything at all.
Another reason this hop seems so unfamiliar may be that it’s not had its name for long. Not terribly long ago, Ekuanot was known as Equinox, which fell victim to a trademark dispute.
As for the beer itself: it’s a gorgeous, hazey orange in colour with a loose textured, white head. The aroma is complex, a balance of light and aromatic lime, papaya sweetness, then earthy sage notes.
Complexity reigns too on the palate. The benefit of using just one hop is that you get an intense, concentrated experience of that particular hop, not an unremarkable blend of flavours. The citrus notes are bright, but not overly sweet. There’s a touch of white bread malt, enough bitterness to keep things interesting, then an earthy, herbaceous, slightly grassy bassline.
I’d go as far as describing this beer as challenging. I certainly wouldn’t recommend my partner drink this, nor anyone who didn’t already really love beer. But for the real beer geeks, this is a fantastic experience. It takes a hop you’re unlikely to have a great deal of experience with and shows off exactly what it’s capable of.