…well not just a Hardknott Dave, it’s more of a “@HardknottDave, @HardknottAnn, @HardKnottSooty, @HardknottAlfie and @HardknottSarah‘s days night”, as this brewery seems to be a truly full family embracing business. Check them out on Twitter and Facebook, there’s always one, two or all of them chattering away to beery folk, generally about beery things.
I first fell in love with Hardknott beers after tasting the marvellous Æther Blæc. It’s an Imperial Stout aged in Whisky casks to add some wonderfully complex flavours to the beer. There are two of these, each aged in 27yr and 28yr casks respectively and both bottled in small numbered batches. I had intended to do a bit of a taste off after aquiring a bottle of each, but then my good friend @GhostDrinker had the same thought and completed the task in fine style using his in depth knowledge of both beer and whisky. Check out the results here, they make a great read, but don’t just take our word for it, get some Æther Blæc and try it yourselves, it’s superb.
Those done, I decided I’d opt for a full night on the Hardknott stuff with these four beers, Dark Energy, Infra Red, Queboid and Granite.
Dark Energy – 4.9%
Dark Energy is listed on Ratebeer as a stout, although as far as I can see on the bottle it has no mention of that fact. It looks like a stout, pouring black as pitch with a brown foaming head that thins quickly, but there’s more there too, which is probably where the quoted description comes from, “as complicated as an astrophysicist’s equation”.
Aromas are quite light, wafts of milk chocolate with hints of smoke. The initial mouthfeel is quite thin for a stout but in a very quaffable way that doesn’t disappoint. It has flavours of smokey burnt malt, dark bitter chocolate & coffee, but then more, there’s a sort of IPA fruitiness too with hints of orange & dates. This is a lovely dark beer in true Hardknott style.
Infra Red – 6.5%
I had tried Infra Red once before, but wanted to revisit and review this beer as it was so good the first time around. It’s a rich ruby coloured IPA from Hardknott.
Infra Red is full on from the word go. On opening the bottle you get sumptuous aromas of strawberries, fruit salad chews & sherbet, a veritable kid in a sweetshop variety of smells on the nose. The big flavours follow very much in the same vein, but with a rich malty mouthfeel, there’s a citrussy zest in the background and a long balanced bitter finish. One of my beers of the year, I urge you to try this very soon.
Queboid – 8.0%
Hardknott get all European here with Queboid, it’s their take on a Belgian style Imperial IPA.
Queboid pours a lazy, hazy sunset red. Aromas are typically hoppilly tropical fruity, maybe some orange and even banana. The mouthfeel is resinously rich and full, with deep, strong flavours of orange marmalade and bitter citrus peel. Alcoholic strength is evident but not too in your face masked by the wonderful flavour battle going on in the mouth. A heartwarming slow sipper..
Granite – 10.4%
As I was considering opening the Granite, I consulted with the First Lady at Hardknott towers @HardknottAnn. I needed guidance on whether to drink it or store it after reading the advice on the label.
“Hide it away in your deepest darkest cellar to avoid the temptation to consume before it’s best.”
“A long maturation on dry hops ensures a big beer that will continue to improve rendering the best before date an irrelevant contradictory semantic.”
Ann kindly duly obliged:
Who am I to argue, let’s get it on….
Granite is luxuriously rich barley wine and I was drinking bottle number 200 out of 504. On pouring the colour is a deep, dark chocolate brown, dense to almost black. The aroma is smoky, mocha, there’s a hint of Stilton cheese too, hitting the nose as soon as you crack off the crown cap. Once in the mouth it’s smooth, thick & sweet, with slightly oily texture. There is a smokey almost burnt toast taste at first, then you get that Christmas cake fruit sweetness, dates, more Stilton and undertones of citrus. A full on festive meal in a glass, with the warming alcohol after dinner glow that normally goes with the occasion.
After tasting this now, I’m definitely going to grab a few more bottles to age as suggested to see what flavours develop. Watch this space in about 4 years for updates…..
In summary I can honestly say that these are all superb beers in their own right, my personal favourite overall was definitely the Infra Red, it has massive flavours without being overly strong therefore allowing me to drink more. 😉
If you’d like to get to know a little more about Dave the brewer and his rise to his current levels of brewing prowess, check out @BeerReviewsAndy‘s website where he has a meet the brewer section. Dave from Hardknott appeared back in January 2010 and although a lot has undoubtedly changed since then, it is still all good reading.
To get a more up to date view, Dave also has his own Hardknott blogspot page where he shares his words of wisdom, the latest brewery news, sparks in depth debate and generally imparts his accumulated beery knowledge to the masses. Another cracking read too, check it out.
So where can I find some? At various good pubs, bars and beer festivals for starters, but also at quality online and local specialist beers shops too. I’ve listed a few below for info:
My Brewery Tap
Ales By Mail
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