Hargreaves Hill Fruit Ninja & Kenneth Son Of Zenith '23

Smoothie Sour & Imperial IPA
6.0% & 8.5%

When Hargreaves Hill's rep dropped by with samples of these two beers, I couldn't help but ask a question: "A strawberry and banana pancake smoothie sour. What does Simon make of that?".

"He wasn't a fan of the idea," was the reply. And who can blame Simon, the man who founded the Yarra Valley brewery back in 2004 and who has always had a fondness and knack for classic beer styles done well. But, to quote The Jam*, "the public gets what the public wants"**, and if people are demanding such things, why deny them that pleasure, hey?

In this case, the thing is Fruit Ninja and it's made with strawberries, bananas, maple syrup and flapjacks. It looks like what I pick up from Boost when catching a morning flight from Terminal 3 at Tulla, pouring so thick the bubbles appear like tadpoles swimming against the tide in an attempt to reach the surface. Strawberry purée dominates and then some, in what’s dense, rich, and as fruity as a smoothie, and in which the maple syrup arrives late but makes its mark when it does. I'm not sure I’d call it sour, or if you’d take on more than one at a time, but as fun beers go it’s fun.

The can accompanying it from the brewery at the start of spring is rather more beer-like. Returning after a brief hiatus is Kenneth Son Of Zenith, their American-inspired imperial West Coast IPA. They might have tweaked the hop blend a little this time around, but it remains very much in the image of a classic US DIPAs. Almost amber in colour, any upfront fruitiness from the hops is quickly subsumed by a boozy dankness and syrupy malts, themselves rapidly shot through with a deep, piney, earthy bitterness. One to warm the cockles.

James Smith

After typing this, I realised there was a nice play on words here: talking about smoothie sours and mentioning The Jam. I can assure you, however, that this wasn't intentional.
What's more, the song goes onto flip the lyric to, "the public wants the public gets", which is the opposite of the point I was making. It's also called "Going Underground", which further undermines the previous paragraph. So, all in all, I should probably think harder next time I rely on an old track to make a point...*

Published March 6, 2023

Hargreaves Hill

Factory 60
64-86 Beresford Road
Lilydale 3140

(03) 9730 1905
Fermentis SafLager E-30
CoCon Famiglia Affairs 2024

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