Sharp’s Brewery, the award-winning maker of the U.K.’s top-selling cask ale Doom Bar, is launching its first-ever nationally available cask hazy IPA, Solar Wave.
Solar Wave, the brewery’s first national cask launch in more than a decade, aims to deliver the big, tropical hop aromas associated with American IPAs with the lower carbonation of a traditional cask ale.
The new beer aims to shake up the cask beer category, a traditional British style of beer that’s naturally carbonated in the vessel from which it is dispensed and usually hand-pumped from a beer engine. While a mainstay of British pubs for centuries, cask ales as a category have been in decline for years, in part because younger drinkers have migrated to kegged beers and newer styles, such as hazy IPAs.
Solar Wave represents an attempt to tap into changing tastes while preserving the unique cask ale tradition, says Aaron McClure, Sharp’s head brewer.
Golden and hazy in appearance, the beer “is very different from usual pin-sharp clear beers,” McClure says. “Solar Wave is a bold and revolutionary new beer for us at Sharp’s. We have used new world hops from some of the most modern and cutting-edge suppliers, such as Cryo hops from Yakima Chief, to produce a beer with an enormous tropical aroma.”
The launch comes as demand for hazy beers and IPAs continues to rise in the U.K. craft beer category, which has grown by 68% since 2018, according to CGA on-premise data for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 13. On top of that, IPAs, pale and golden beers have surged in cask, where they account for 27.5% of the overall category.
Brewed at Sharp’s Brewery in Rock, Cornwall, Solar Wave will hit on-trade accounts across the U.K. in April with special glassware and bold, on-pump branding.
Sharp’s, which has long been known for its cask beers, has in recent years branched into kegged and packaged beer, such as its Atlantic Pale Ale, the top-selling modern keg ale in the on-trade in Great Britain. Sales of that beer are up 80% in the last year, according to CGA U.K. on-trade data for the 52-week period ended Jan. 28.
But cask remains integral to the Sharp’s identity and its future.
“Cask innovation is central to what we do here in Rock,” McClure says. “We have a dedicated pilot brewery where we have produced over fifty awesome beers since it was commissioned in 2016. Solar Wave is the perfect example of that experimentation in action, and we’re so excited to be able to bring this beer to market on a bigger scale.”