Hobo Beer & Co was set up four years ago by half-a-dozen ‘adventurous, hard-working gentleman’ with more than a 100 years’ experience in the drinks business. These include Scott Collins of MEATliquor, Stuart Ekins and Richard Herbert of Cask Liquid Marketing; David Page of Fulham Shore and The Thinking Drinkers – Ben McFarland & Tom Sandham.
In 2016, four years after launching its flagship Czech Craft Lager, Hobo Beer & Co joined forces with Aspall Cyder in Suffolk, the illustrious family-owned cidermaker who first planted apple orchards in the fruitful farmlands of East Anglia back in the 1720s.
Hobo’s Craft Czech Lager is a traditional lager-conditioned beer brewed in the Northern Bohemian town of Zatec, 60km to the north-west of Prague.
The town and region is renowned for the Saaz hop, recognised as the perfect hop for lager conditioned beers. The brewery was built within the walls of the Zatec castle since 1801 and dovetails time-honoured brewing techniques with the best that modern brewing technology has to offer.
Following the Velvet Revolution in 1989, life was breathed back into the brewery, it was dusted down and led gently by the hand into the 21st century with the addition of crucial cutting-edge brewing equipment…..and some new stairs.
However, very little was touched within the brewery and fidelity to longstanding lager brewing principles steadfastly remain. Brewed using a double decoction mash (an intensive approach that gives the beer a fuller body) and three stages of Saaz hopping in copper kettles, Hobo is fermented in open fermentation ‘squares’ for 14 days before being transferred into horizontal lagering tanks sunk deep beneath the brewery back in 1835.
Carved into the rock, these cellars remain naturally cold and the temperature remains constantly chilly even though above it, the climate can fluctuate from minus 20 degrees centigrade in the depths of winter to 35+ degrees during the scorching summer.
Hobo beer matures and meditates for two months. The longer a lager can relax, the better it will taste and, in addition to the ingredients and the fermentation, it’s here where Hobo lager differs from mainstream, mass-market lagers.
Time equals taste.
East Coast Cyder (5.1% ABV) is made using only culinary apples such as Gala, Braeburn, Cox, Russet and Bramley, all carefully blended to give exceptional drinkability. Clean in character, with an aroma of fresh apples and a delicate floral note, it is deftly balanced, medium in body and sweetness with a fruity acidity and a bracing, flint-dry finish.
Henry Chevalier-Guild, the eight generation of his family to make Aspall cider (or cyder as it is referred to), said: “Stylistically, this is a classic East Coast cider. It’s lighter, racier, and more drinkable than some of the, albeit fine, heavily bittersweet ciders of the west.
“It’s perfect on its own or as a match for a variety of foods such as spicy Oriental cuisine, shellfish, Moroccan dishes, charcuterie and mild cheeses.”
Distributed via both Cask Liquid Marketing and Aspall, “East Coast Cyder” is available exclusively in a 33cl aluminium can at a time when sales of canned craft beer are soaring.
Just like it’s Czech stablemate, “East Coast Cyder” proudly celebrates the Hobo code in the shape of the emblem adorning its minimalist black can. Meaning “Dangerous Drinking Water”, it is one of hundreds of secret symbols used as a surreptitious means of communication by Hobos who rode the rails, principally during the Great Depression in 1930s America.
The 33cl can is also decorated with several Hobo expressions including “Scrape The Mug: “To shave”; “Bindle Stick”: A hand carved walking stick used by hobos to carry a bindle; and “Tin Roof”: A free drink as it’s “on the house.”