Sometimes I crave different things from beer, which makes perfect sense when you consider the wide variety of flavours that we know beer can carry. What doesn't make sense is that I sometimes crave a beer from a different place. Hops were on my agenda over the past few weeks, but instead of looking to the U.S. (which I eventually did anyway) I just felt I needed to look across the channel. Moor whave been on my mind ever since they came and went in Bradley's a few months back, but in their absence I decided to try a different, equally unfamiliar brewery from England; Hardknott.
Azimuth is the IPA of the range and seemed as good a place as any to start, and it very much turned out that way. My notes on the aroma read 'wow', following a blast of tropical fruit with a grapefruit and pineapple oily hop character, with the palate getting more or less the same treatment. It's pithy orange makes it properly bitter, but with some brown sugar sweetness lending plenty of balancing weight and sticky mouthfeel to proceedings. It feels bigger than its 5.8% ABV, which represents very good value for the amount and the potency of flavour delivered.
Next up is Infrared, which is indeed red. The nose is again impressively hopped; oily pine here, citrus and red berry juicyness here, with yet more tropical fruit in the mix. The balance comes from sweet bubblegum stuff this time, and the nose on the whole is punchier than on the Azimuth. A sharp whack of bitter grapefruit skins opens the palate to some coppery hops, with the light caramel malt very much taking the back seat. This is incredibly delicious stuff.
Queboid was the last I had of the range, and pours a darker shade of amber. Candied fruit reaches me first on the nose, with lemon playing a particularly important role in heralding a fresh, herbal, peely hoppiness. Clearly this beer is no exception to the trend of deliciousness exhibited so far by Harknott, as brisk grapfruit hops and sugary toffee malts respond to a buttery opening, with plenty of fruit and a herbal bitterness throughout. The finish lasts for ages, with spice flavours lingering long past the last swallow. At 8% the body's full and syrupy, and deals perfectly with the complexity of the flavours.
In the space of three beers, I realise that I love Hardknott. All three are winners, but my pick of the bunch has to be Infrared. More of this please.