I always seem to forget to write posts here, so please forgive the gap between posts. After writing a thread on Twitter about my latest beer, I realised that perhaps I should blog it and tweet the blog instead.

A few weeks back I got to brew with a new British hop called Harlequin. This is a new variety that so far has been unavailable to the homebrew market and has only had samples sent out to a few commercial breweries. After asking about hop availability Charles Farams hop merchants contacted me and said they would try to source a sample for me. A few messages later and I had a pack of around 300g of Harlequin arrive on my doorstep.

Pack of Harlequin Freshpak hop cones

To make sure the hops had every chance to shine and show exactly what they could bring as a dual purpose hop, I decided to SMaSH it, that is brew a beer with just a single malt (Crisp clear choice pale ale malt) and a single hop (Charles Farams Harlequin). The yeast was SafAle US-05 from Fermentis.

Mashing in malted grains on a brew day

Brew day went well. I had to top up the fermenter with some extra water to hit my volume as I forgot to lower the wattage on the boiler so the boil was extra vigorous and boil off rates were higher than expected. After topping back up I only missed my estimated original gravity by 2 points, which goes some way to explain why I rarely bother measuring OG any more as I’m normally right in the ballpark anyway.

After a week in the fermenter I added a heavy dose of dry hops as I had plenty of the original sample left, so gave it around 120 grams of dry hop in 20 litres. Even with a stainless steel weight in the hop bag, it took a few days for the hops to absorb enough fluid to actually fully submerge.

Once the beer finished around a week later, I got it kegged up and carbonated before giving it a try.

Harlequin SMaSH beer in a glass

First impressions are WOW. Being able to get these characteristics from a British hop variety is something I would never have expected a few years back. Just to recap. this was a SMaSH (Single malt and single hop) beer made using Crisp Malt clear choice pale ale malt and Charles Faram & Co Ltd Harlequin hop with Fermentis By Lesaffre Safale US-05, so everything hop derived is coming from this one variety.

The profile describes it as passion fruit, peach and pineapple, and you certainly get that tropical fruit flavour. There is a slightly tart citrus undertone of perhaps pink grapefruit and pith as well. I don’t know how shelf stable these characteristics are going to be, but to be honest, I can’t see this keg lasting long enough to find out as it is going down really well.

I’d certainly say this hop is well worth looking out for when it comes to the homebrew market. As well as a lovely pale ale, this could also do well in an NEIPA and will no doubt find its way into plenty of other styles as well.

Keep an eye out and I’ll have a grain to glass video up on the channel in a few days.


Sarah is an experienced home brewer, a qualified BJCP beer judge, organiser of the Welsh National Homebrew Competition and sometimes Brewtuber under her home brewery name, Daft Cat Brewing