Hawkshead “Well Hopped” well done!

Several weeks ago I was lucky enough to be sent three sample bottles of Hawkshead Brewery‘s “Well Hopped”range. They look great, I love the simple, clean branding, it shouts HOPS!” to your subconscious, let’s see how they are on the inside.

Windermere Pale is the big brother of the regular session version of the same name only stronger at 6% abv compared to the cask quaffable 3.5%. The aroma is big on grass and nettles with hints of fennel. The taste is fresh, crisp and very bitter, a little like an under-ripe Galia melon crossed with a Bramley apple. Strangely though, although the bitterness is long-lasting the finish brings sweetness that makes this really drinkable, much like its sibling but far more dangerous.

Cumbrian Five Hop is as far as I know a completely new beer featuring a blend of 5 traditional and modern hops, Fuggles, Goldings, Bramling Cross, Citra and Amarillo. This one is a very different animal altogether, the nose is far more mellow for starters. Light lemon and grapefruit is the order of the day suspended in sweet caramel. It’s more of a savouring beer, being more full-bodied with less of a sharp bite, although that’s not to say it’s not an easy drinker as it also hides the 6% abv very well. Juicy citrus fruits, kiwi plus a little aniseed form the main taste sensation recipe with a soft chewy malted body drying nicely to a pithy bitter finish.

*Update: The brewery contacted me today to say that Cumbrian Five Hop was not a completely new brew although is so in it’s newly “well hopped” form. It was created roughly two years ago for release in J D Wetherspoons and was called Citrillo, from there on in it took the new name.

New Zealand Pale Ale (NZPA) is no stranger to my taste buds. I first came across it when visiting the Hawkshead beer hall last year, was lucky enough to drop in as Matt Clarke (Head Brewer) was just about to take a special guest on an impromptu tour, I joined them and had an NZPA as company for the duration. It remained one of my top beers last year and shows no change in 2012, I’m just so glad it’s part if this range now so that more people get to try it.

NZPA is a massive green incredible hulky hop beast of a beer and is an equally big mouthful as that description. Grapefruit, gooseberry, lime and grape form the basis of this flavour explosion, invading nose and palate with equal vigour, all blend together beautifully in a light biscuit and light pine resinous body that just screams DRINK ME. I really wondered if I’d feel the same about this beer after trying the others, I do and it still sits firmly atop the Hawkshead tree in my opinion. A true classic!

The beers are available at various fine beery outlets and at the Hawkshead Brewery Shop. Better still get yourself down to the Hawskhead Summer Beer Festival, I really can’t wait, if you are going be sure to say hello, see below for full details.

A big thanks to Gemma for sending me these, really appreciated.