English and proud, it’s Hardknott to be..

It’s a thoroughly spiffing time to be English (British) at the moment. England and the collective countries that make up the United Kingdom are in 2012 being constantly showcased in the worlds eyes, hopefully for all the right reasons. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and her colour being well and truly getting a jolly good trouping today, host to the Olympic games and even the England football team managing to crush the Swedes yesterday into soft yellow mush… (slight exaggeration)

True to form sadly our pubs and bars are being bombarded with rebadged beers whose titles wearily try to scramble onto the bandwagon as I grumbled about in my recent post “a right Royal weekend“. However in that post I also mentioned brewers that are trying that bit harder to produce something different, a glint of shiny quality in the box of tired tarnished copper.

The English Experiment is a collaborative beer born (I hope they don’t mind me saying this) from the collective minds two brewers at quite opposite ends of the current UK beer market spectrum. On one hand you have John Keeling, Brewing Director at Fullers one of the UK’s most well-respected, long-standing breweries and brewer of some 34-35 years (read all about him here). On the other you have Dave Bailey or Hardknott Dave as he prefers to be known. Former owner of the Woolpack Pub (turned brew pub), who about three years ago took his passion for brewing one step further and turned it into the one of the UK’s finest batch of newer boundary pushing breweries Hardknott.

As a meeting of minds they decided that they wanted to create something quintessentially English in style whilst keeping a contemporary edge. Deciding on IPA as the brew, they set about finding new (all English) ingredients, hence the name and blending them into a beer both breweries would be proud of, including Archer, Baron, Bishop and Landlady hops from Charles Farham’s hop breeding programme. See Charles’s notes below:

“These four varieties have come from the Charles Faram hop development program and we are delighted at their application in this collaboration brew. They are in the traditional English style but with fantastic disease resistance to facilitate a sustainable future for the English hop industry. They have been selected for their excellent brewing potential with new flavours and aromas whilst still being recognisably English in their nature.”

As you crack the cap there is a quick flash of aroma as the carbonation finds its first taste of release, it’s the briefest sniff of fresh apple. This disappears as quickly as it came and settles to an almost musty pepperiness in the glass, a quite roasty earthiness with a bit of background fruit which I can’t decide is apple or banana (Strangely).

As the beer hits the taste buds a wave of toffee sweetness creeps across the tongue, followed promptly by an army of bitter hop surfers riding that wave and scraping the sweetness away as they go leaving a long-lasting dry bite. Plenty of biscuit flavours in attendance too, tasting more like something rustic you’d stick a good cheddar cheese on than anything for tea dunking, there’s also fruit knocking about in the background, probably those pesky apples and bananas again back to bamboozle my palate…the swines!

So what’s the verdict, absolutely DING DONG that’s what, in a Leslie Phillips stylee of course

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