Hole Hearted 20th Anniversary

We are fast approaching the 20th Anniversary of our best selling beer, Hole Hearted. Our flagship golden ale is quite unique in it's wide range of appeal, we have stood at events where Cider drinkers, Lager drinkers and even non-beer drinkers have had their mind changed after trying Hole Hearted. We've seen this served on cask and win multiple awards, we've also seen this beer be served on keg and appeal to the modern craft beer drinkers. So what is the Hole Hearted story and what makes it special?

We like to think the Cascade hop in Hole Hearted is at the core of it's success, going back nearly 20 years it was unique on the Hampshire Real Ale scene to see a beer with American hops. Looking back on a national scale, the early 2000's saw the birth and import of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, a beer produced in America based on Fuller's ESB. Problem was, the brewers over at Sierra Nevada couldn't get hold of the Goldings aroma hops stateside so instead used Cascade. An instant classic was born, along with a whole new emerging scene of American hopped beers getting into the UK market.

Cascade has since been a staple American hop seen in a multitude of beers available in the UK, many stronger American citrus hops have followed in it's successful footsteps. Hole Hearted then was somewhat of a trendsetter. Our head brewer Ed can recall a conversation from 20 years ago with James Campbell, the Head Brewer and co-founder of Cloudwater, in which James had explained what a truly fantastic hop Cascade is, but to be careful with it, as the flavour is extremely intense. Ed was just beginning to brew at the Clarence Tavern Brewpub in Gosport, then owned by Winchester Ale Houses. As well as brewing beer for the Clarence, he was tasked with making a house beer for all of the Winchester Ale Houses establishments. 

The Hole in the Wall, Southsea was one such pub. The landlord at the time came up with the name Hole Hearted, Ed threw caution to the wind and for the time used Cascade in abundance to hop Hole Hearted. In the late 90's we are aware of one other such UK beer that used Cascade; Rooster's Yankee, which continues to be brewed today and is available in Cask, Keg and Can. It's safe to say Hole Hearted was one of the first, this may seem of little importance, but the variety of hops available prior to the last 15-20 years were nothing like the tropical, citrus flavours seen in American hops today; cascade hopped beers were a refreshing, big change to the scene.

When Winchester Ale Houses was sold to Inspire Pubs Ltd, the new owners had no interest in the continuation of brewing or the beer recipes - at this point, Ed and his father-in-law, Dave, were setting up their own brewery, Oakleaf. Ed was lucky enough to be able to keep the brew sheets and brought the Hole Hearted recipe into the Oakleaf core range, but it wasn't all plain sailing. The ultra hoppy flavours were still not the norm and Hole Hearted wasn't selling well in the early 2000's, it wasn't until Hole Hearted received Hampshire Beer of the Year before it began selling. Since then, four further Hampshire Beer of the Year awards later, Hole Hearted has consistently been Oakleaf, and now Fallen Acorn's, best selling beer.

In Fallen Acorn's first year, a spin-off of Hole Hearted instantly became a success - Black Hearted follows almost an identical recipe, just with the addition of some dark malts and a bit more Cascade. The idea for Black Hearted was thought up during the long drive from Gosport up to Charles Faram Hop Merchants in Worcestershire. Ed explained the tales of Oakleaf, and Hole Hearted, and a new idea was born drawing on the heritage of a classic ale. Black Hearted was invited up to the Great British Beer Festival in 2017 and was extremely well received. Although a dark beer, like Hole Hearted, it continues to challenge perception by being very easy to drink and very repeatable. Black Hearted soon replaced Pot Kettle in Fallen Acorn's Session Range as our regularly available dark ale. 

February 2018 will mark 20 years of Hole Hearted, we'll be celebrating this with a 20th Anniversary Hole Hearted Beer Festival that we hope you can attend. We've been busy on our pilot brew kit producing some further spin-offs of Hole Hearted:

  • White Hearted - Cascade hopped Weissbier - 4.7%
  • Double Hearted - Double Strength, Double Hopped DAPA - 9.4%
  • Crimson Heart - Cascade hopped American Red - 4.7%
  • Light Hearted - Low Strength Golden Ale - 2.7%
  • Stellar Heart - Cascade hopped Pilsner Lager - 5.0%

Alongside these will of course be Hole Hearted and Black Hearted, as well as a cask of Hole Hearted brewed based on the first ever brew sheet. 

The 20th Anniversary festival will include, for definite this time, Hole Hearted Soaked Sausages from Twells Butchers in Portchester, various pub games, Hole Hearted Chutney and Jake's Pork Pies and live music soon to be announced put on by Quay West Studios.

The festival begins on February 9th from 4-10pm. All beers will be available, but the main event is the Saturday from 2pm-10pm when we will have live music and hot food. Commemorative 20th Anniversary pint glasses will be available at the event, they are £5 and include a free pint.  

We hope you can join us to celebrate this truly outstanding ale, toasting its past and future!

Matt Curd