Drink: A glass of Herts
PUBLISHED: 11:39 24 March 2015 | UPDATED: 12:43 24 March 2015
Laura Vickers celebrates an award-winning artisan ale brewed in St Albans
Do you know who won Hertfordshire Beer of the Year at last year’s popular St Albans Beer Festival? You might think it was one of the county’s more established, larger breweries, but in fact 2014’s winner was High Five, an American IPA made by the two-year-old AleCraft microbrewery.
The brewery’s owner, Kevin Yelland, was so unassuming about his beers that he didn’t even go to the judging. ‘The head judge rang me at home to tell me High Five had won. I had to ask him to repeat himself.’
The IPA went on to win further recognition at the St Albans event when it was judged second in the much-prized Beer of the Festival category, beating more than 300 other brews. Luckily, Yelland didn’t miss the announcement this time, and said his roar of delight ‘must have been heard miles away’.
Yelland’s evident passion for beer started when he was just 15, something he attributes to growing up surrounded by the excellent breweries in the Midlands. But his real love now is the American craft-beer scene where, he says, ‘artisan producers are creating beer that gives a flavour experience – what they call a wow factor’.
This sensation-filled approach heavily influences his own range – produced at the brewery at the Farmer’s Boy pub in St Albans – and he says he loves creating ‘hop-forward, characterful beers’.
As well as High Five, AleCraft produces Bartholomew Porter, a dark, chocolatey flavour explosion, and the citrus and gooseberry-filled Sauvin So Good golden ale, produced with New Zealand Nelson Sauvin hops. These and the rest of the microbrewery’s drinks are available both in casks and bottles at various Hertfordshire pubs and restaurants, as well as at Beer: Shop St Albans. See @alecraftbrew on Twitter for brewery updates.