When Sean Franklin coined the phrase “hops are the grapes of brewing” in the 1980s he changed the way drinkers think about beer and he also encouraged other brewers to look at hops in a fresh way.

The main ingredient in beer is malt, made from grain. Hops add bitterness and aromas that range from citrus fruit through pepper and spice to floral notes.

Sean thought that all too often the malt base of beer underplayed the important contribution of the hop plant. He had studied wine in Bordeaux and became an expert on different grape varieties.

Back home in Yorkshire he was enjoying a pint of beer in his local pub – “cool, perfectly poured and refreshing” – and said it “gripped my imagination”.

It encouraged him to visit the Pacific North-west region of the United States where the Yakima Valley in Washington State is the main hop-growing region.

He discovered the rich and fruity Cascade hop that he likened to the Muscat grape. Other hop varieties he found to have similar aromas and flavours to Sauvignon and Pinot grapes.

When he returned to Yorkshire he opened a small brewery called Franklin’s in the 1980s where his first beer, Yankee (4.3 per cent) was hopped with imported Cascade.

At first his malts were a blend of pale and crystal but he found the crystal malt overwhelmed the aroma and flavour of the Cascade hops.

As a result he not only dropped crystal malt from the recipe for Yankee but he also vowed to use only pale malts in other brews to allow the hops to better balance the grain.

Yankee proved to be a ground-breaking beer and Sean became a regular speaker at brewers’ and beer drinkers’ meetings where he talked of the important contribution hops make to beer and to allow them to shine through the malt base.

In 1993 Sean built a bigger brewery he named Rooster’s after a character played by John Wayne in a Western. He developed a range of beers that reflected his belief that hops must not be overwhelmed by grainy flavours.

Following years of hard brewing, Sean retired in 2011 and sold Rooster’s to Ian Fozard who had run a small chain of specialist pubs in Yorkshire.

Ian installed his sons Oliver and Tom to work with him and their success enabled them to move from the brewery in Knaresborough to a bigger site in Harrogate.

They have built on Sean Franklin’s heritage and have also developed their own range of distinctive beers but Sean would undoubtedly approve of their latest brew that has a big contribution from wine.

Wild Wild Life (seven per cent) is a beer that has aged in French oak wine barrels for 15 months. It’s the third edition of the beer. It has won several awards and has impressed drinkers with the oaky and vinous notes picked up from Pinot Noir and Sauvignon casks.

The beer is known as a “kettle sour”. This means that lactobacillus bacteria is added during the kettle boil with hops. Lactobacillus is a beneficial bacteria, similar to the friendly bugs used to make yoghurt.

The beer is fermented with a Saison yeast culture. Saison is a beer found in the French-speaking region of Belgium and the yeast originally came from French wine makers to give the beer a rich and fruity character.

The finished beer is pale bronze and has a tart fruit aroma of lemons and sour oranges with hints of oak. The palate is quenching with sour vinous fruit, oak and light hop notes. The finish is fruity, oaky, vinous and tart.

Other beers from Rooster’s barrel-aged project include Hello Dimitri, an imperial stout aged in Bourbon barrels, and Earthly Delights, a barley wine aged in Pinot Noir barrels.

The beers are available from www.roosters.co.uk. Order a variety of the range and then raise a glass to celebrate Sean Franklin’s vital contribution to the joys of beer.