Cheddar is an interesting term; most Americans are probably aware that Cheddar is a type of cheese, but far removed from American cheeses such as Monterey Jack. I’m not going to be precious about cheese, Monterey Jack has its place – usually on a burger – but it’s not something I’d serve on a cheese board.
Cheddar is also a village in Somerset, in the south west of England, about twenty miles south west of Bristol, and is the origin of the aforementioned style of cheese. It’s also home to a famous gorge (canyon) and caves and, since 2006, it’s own brewery – ‘Cheddar Ales’.
Check their website here.
Cheddar Ales have a brewing capacity of around 30,000 (British) pints (that’s about 36,000 US pints) each week and a range of nine brews. Several of these have won awards, and the most recent of which – ‘Hard Rock Pale Ale’ – the brewery kindly arranged for the Beer Pixies to deliver to my door.
The brewery describe Hard Rock as having been “Crafted using the finest malted barley and a blend of Brewers Gold, Mount Hood and Chinook whole hops it is then conditioned for at least 2 weeks with an obscene amount of dry hops for intense flavour and aroma“. They should know, it was their summer seasonal brew for 2014, and proved so popular (it won Gold in a SIBA South West competition in 2014) that they’ve decided to add it to their regular beer range.
An ‘obscene amount of dry hops for intense flavour and aroma’? That sounds like my kind of beer, bring it on!
It pours a mid golden colour, not too pale, not too dark. There’s a crisp, white head that fades quickly.
The nose is rich and hoppy, it has apple notes, which is something I’ve only detected once before in a beer; those exotic hops making their presence felt.
The flavour is dry, with a hint of spice, it’s not obscenely hoppy but crisp and refreshing.
Very refreshing, with that apple flavour sneaking through. I’m guessing that’s the Brewers Gold hops coming through, the citrus of the Chinook hops and the richness of the Mount Hood (itself derived from Hallertau hops) are both in there as well.
All in all, it’s a tasty, hoppy, refreshing brew, that, at 4.4% ABV, would make a fine, slightly strong, session beer.