Hawkshead’s ‘Well Hopped’ Range

You may laugh, but I generally don’t take up breweries on offers of beer for review. There’s been a lot said about it in the past – about the obligation, the lack of credibility – all of which I vehemently agree with. But when Hawkshead contact you, exceptions are made. These beers were sent to me (and many others) and I’m bloody glad they were.

Sinply put – you don’t turn down Windermere Pale. Ever.

The three samples represent the ‘Well Hopped’ range; 6-7% in abv and hopped with an English and New Zealand bias. When you think about it, that’s the perfect analogy for Hawkshead; the traditional, quintessentially British attitude to unswerving quality and understatement, underpinned by the slightly zany, garrulous exclamation brought by Matt Clarke. Nowhere does that split-personality come across more than with these bottled gems.

Cumbrian Five Hop (6.5%) was my choice of the lot. Fuggles, Citra and Amarillo combine in the nose to give you a swirl of catty, lemon and tangerine notes underpinned by a herbal, slightly minty foundation. The body is clean, smooth, and with a definite note of cereal, reminding you that this beer is not all about the nose. Just when you think the beer is done, a long, dry, biting bitterness appears, making the next sip all too inevitable. Finally, a little hit of alcohol warmth shines through, leaving you to contemplate a very, very accomplished beer indeed.

NZPA combines the classic Kiwi hop family; Riwaka, Green Bullet, Nelson Sauvin and Motueka. Lighter in shade and tone than Cumbrian Five Hop, this pours a light, sunny gold and that aroma fills the glass immediately; Grapefruit, Lemon Pith, White Grape and Mango. Fresh, light, spritzy. It drinks pretty much as you’d want it to; light, elegant and sleek, carrying all those citrus flavours through the body and into a long, rasping finish.

Finally, Windermere Pale is labelled as ‘Bottle Strength‘ here; stronger than the Cask favourite at 6%, and a much different beer for it. Burnished gold in colour as opposed to uber-pale, I thought the aroma was actually less fleet-of-foot than the original. Sure, there’s all that pithy, dry-as-a-bone tangerine peel and peachiness coming through, but it finishes sweet and robust, rather than dry. There’s a herbal, hedgerow note in there too that’s interesting. I thought this version to be an interesting experiment with a (fast-becoming) modern classic, and a welcome one at that – but overall, I do prefer the original session-strength, lighter version.

All in all, another snapshot of what Hawkshead are doing right now in terms of Pales. Now I’ve just got to make sure I don’t miss those barrel-aged stouts that they’ve been hiding from us up there in deepest, darkest Cumbria…

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About leighgoodstuff

Blog: https://goodfoodgoodbeer.wordpress.com/ I'm Leigh Linley; born and bred in Leeds, and writing about it since 2005. TGS exists solely to highlight the great beers that are out there; brewed with passion by Craft Brewers around the World. I also edit the 'Tavern Tales' section of Culture Vulture, which looks at Pubs and Pub Life rather than the beer in the glass. If you'd like to submit a piece for Tavern Tales, or contact me about any Freelance writing you think I would be suited to, then don't hesitate to contact me via email here.

Posted on 27/04/2012, in Beer and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I had the Windermere Pale last night, loved it for its fruit bowl of existentialism (lychee, grapefruit).

  2. Had Windermere last night, loved its existentialist fruitiness

  3. The NZ pale ale has been one of my must try beers for a while now. Finally got round to ordering some from BeerRitz a few days ago but now wishing I’d gone for all the Hawkshead beers. So many good beers on there to try though, next time I will though.

  4. I’ve been lucky enough to find all three of those on Draught at The Angel in Manchester at various times. The Cumbrian Five Hop was superb, if I remember it right.

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