Hardnott is the pseudonym of David Bailey, who somewhat modestly describes himself as a “doer, brewer, force majeure”. He’s a former a former pub landlord (and before that he worked in the nuclear industry) from Cumbria in north-west England who started to brew his own beer.
As so often happens, the brewing took over and the Hardnott brewery is fast gaining a reputation in British craft beer circles.
Dave’s blog is opinionated but well informed, and always worth a read, check it out here and bookmark it if, like me, you’re passionate about beer.
The Hardnott Brewery has gained a reputation for brewing interesting brews, known for their potency and depth of flavour.
Today’s brew, ‘InfraRed’ is a modern IPA, but as I’ve noticed a few comments here at The Brew Club about English Pale Ales, I think it’s probably worth penning a few lines of explanation – bear with me:
In the UK a Pale (or Light) Ale is the bottled equivalent of bitter, the staple brew of any brewery and the best seller in most pubs and bars. As such it’s not particularly spectacular, no ‘in your face’ (or nose) hops, just a well balanced bitter ale. As a teenager it was common to see people order ‘Light & Bitter’ – this was a half pint of draught bitter and a bottle of Light Ale.
Increased quantities of hops were added to preserve the brew on its sea journey to India to refresh British troops in the late 17th century and India Pale Ale (or IPA) was born. American Pale Ales sought to recreate the hoppiness of IPA, and so became distanced from ‘ordinary’ English Pale Ales.
In recent years English craft brewers have started to brew beers based on American Pale Ales, with a twist, often creating ‘oxymoronic’ brews such as Brew Wharf’s ‘Military Intelligence’ (dark IPA) and today’s brew ‘InfraRed IPA’ which Dave describes as “An oxymoronic IPA ruby red and as hoppy as a box of frogs.”
Hardnott describe InfraRed as “Based on a modern American style beer from Oregon using Cascade and Centennial hops in appropriate proportions, for bittering, aroma and dry hopping balanced with a strong Crystal malt backbone.”
So I suppose know what to expect.
It pours with a rich enthusiastic head, unlike several ‘reluctant’ brews I’ve tried of late, the head is a pale caramel, almost buttery colour while the brew beneath is a rich red copper colour.
The nose? Well as expected it’s very, very hoppy, but deeply hoppy, these hops are down in the brew, not just added by dry-hopping.
There’s a good mouth-feel, it’s medium to full bodied, this is a serious brew.
The flavour is as you would expect, very hoppy indeed. I detected hints of diacetyl – those caramel/toffee hints that (in my mind at least) distinguish Yorkshire ales, even though this is from Cumbria, not unpleasant, it adds a roundness to the flavour. Beyond the caramel there’s an intense and rewarding hoppy flavour.
This isn’t as bright and sparkly as an IPA, or as floral as an APA, but it’s definitely part of the same family. I’m not sure how many hops there are in a ‘bucket of frogs’ but I wouldn’t dispute Hardnott’s description.
I’d give this four stars, and next time I visit my beer-monger I’ll look out for their other brews.
Bob the Brit