St Henry 2021 will be available online and for take-away/collection from 12pm (Sydney time) on Friday 3 September 2021.
St Henry is an Australian Wild Ale made with apricots. It is named for Chris and Emily’s second son. Saint Henry II was a Holy Roman Emperor during the 11th century. In 2021, St Henry was made by blending barrel aged golden mixed culture fermentation ale with 1060kg of fresh, whole, tree ripened Robada apricots from Yarralee Orchard in Kelso, NSW.
Like St Thomas this year, St Henry 2021 is solely bottled in 750ml and and a handful of 1.5 litre magnums, no 375ml bottles. To read a bit more about that decision see this blog post.
Another new thing for this year is the source and varietal of apricot used in this blend. For the first time, Robada varietal apricots from Yarralee just outside Kelso have been used instead of the Thornbrook Trevatt apricots.
It was a tough year for stonefruit across the board, again... however this one was due to the heavy rainfall, especially in Bathurst. In fact, the apricots used in Henry were so drenched they were deemed 'water damaged' by the orchard and were sold to us as seconds because of tiny blemishes on the skins from continual water drops, which of course make no difference to the flavour.
Tim picked this fruit on 30 December 2020 and just eight days before they had received a massive 22mm dump with a total of 47.2mm in December alone, with November seeing a similar 44.8mm. This same period in the year previous saw rainfall of 16.4mm and just 6mm for November 2019 and December 2019 respectively. In fact, December 2019 was the driest December on record. Just on the numbers alone its no surprise that the fruit was going to be different.
For us, this meant larger fruit with more juice and easier ripening. Last year we saw a lot of really small, malformed stonefruits across the board while this year was the complete opposite. Much like wine in a dry year, we believe, this concentrates flavour and produces an intense expression. St Henry 2020 for example where the apricots were golf-ball sized compared to the tennis ball fruit this year. Henry '20 has this candied, preserved apricot character which cannot be replicated, while this year we see a softer, more plushy expression, more primary flavours of the fresh fruits themselves.
The resultant beer at release opens with bright apricot flesh and musky skin. Complex spice mix-edging on negroni vibes, cinnamon and earthy allspice with a vinous soft vanillin warmth background. The gold base comes through lifting the aromatics with inflections of citrus and fresh pineapple. Beautiful flow on the palate. Apricot to the fore in all forms but backed by clean oak lines, orange citrus and biscuity textures. The fruit is fresh and vibrant, continually expressing itself across a long palate. As with all St Henry’s, the acidity builds but is in total harmony with the apricot. Really stunning vintage considering the very wet conditions of this harvest.
The base beer is brewed entirely with certified organic cereals from Chris and Sam Greenwood's farm in Coleambally NSW. Organic raw Red wheat with Organic Schooner barley malted to a pale roast by Voyager Craft Malt. It is made with filtered Sydney water and Motueka (NZ) and Saaz (CZ) hops. Finally, it was fermented with our house culture: brewers yeast, foraged wild yeast and naturally occurring souring bacteria native to New South Wales. It was bottled on 3 June 2021 and naturally conditioned through refermentation for 13 weeks. At bottling it was 5.7% ABV, 25 IBU and 2°P (FG = 1.008 SG).
We will have 300 x 750ml bottles and 4 x 1.5 litre magnums available online and 120 bottles at cellar door. We will also be offering a handful of cases to our lovely stockists across Australia you can find here.
Like all our beers, St Henry 2021 is best enjoyed when decanted off a settled natural yeast sediment at cellar temperatures (10-12°C).