Great British Beer Hunt: India Pale Ale and Infra Red

Sainsbury's Great British Beer Hunt 2013

I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Harbour Brewing Co., who are based in Cornwall, but I’ve never crossed paths with any of their beers, so I was very pleased to see two of them in the final of the Great British Beer Hunt. I decided to start with their India Pale Ale, as there had been lots of positive posts about it on twitter and untappd, so was looking forward to trying it.

Harbour Brewing co. India Pale AleIt poured a slightly hazy, light brownish, deep amber amber colour, with an off white head. The head dropped to a thick covering fairly quickly. While it wasn’t the smelliest beer I’ve ever had, once you got your nose right into it, there was a lovely, thick, dank hop aroma.

It wasn’t as full bodied as I was expecting, it felt quite light in the mouth and definitely didn’t feel like it was over five percent. There was a nicely orange, grapefruit marmalade kind of flavour to start with, that wasn’t overly cloying, or bitter. In fact I’d go as far as to say it was wonderfully balanced, just tending to bitterness in the lingering citric aftertaste.

It’s less of a slap you around the face hop bomb and more of a subtle beer, that beguiles you more and more with each mouthful, until you’ve totally and utterly fallen under its spell. It’s a very, very nice beer indeed and I’d be surprised if it didn’t do exceedingly well. Definitely one you should put in your basket.

I’ve had plenty of Hardknott Infra Red before, I first blogged about it way back in 2010, when it was a very limited bottling run. Back then Infra Red was hand bottled, capped and labeled into 500ml bottles, these days, Hardknott’s fancy bottling machine can churn out thousands of capped and labeled 330ml bottles a day; It’s amazing to see how far Dave and Ann have come in those short years.

Hardknott Infra RedIt poured a reddish brown mahogany colour, with a very lively pale tan coloured head. This bottle was possibly a touch over carbonated, as the head stayed at a good finger for ages and was fed constantly by bubbles rising up the side of the glass. The nose was all caramel malt, with very little else going on.

It was a bit lively in the mouth, from all the carbonation, which was a bit of a shame; although it wasn’t bad enough to detract from the taste. It didn’t taste how I remembered it though, I was expecting much more of an aggressive biscuity, crystal malt mouth prickle, but it was more of a smooth, rich, red stewed fruit affair. There was a bit of a prickle, towards the end of the mouth, just not as much as I remember there being.

The bitterness, while there, wasn’t overwhelming, even though there was quite a bit of it. It cut through the initial maltiness and left as pleasant, fruity bitterness lingering in the mouth. You could still taste it, minutes after having a mouthful, so I suppose some people will probably find this to be bordering on too bitter for them. While it’s not the beer I remember and my judgement might be clouded by my memories, it’s still a plenty tasty beer.

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