1) They sent me two bottles of their latest beers. So of course I immediately work out which one will be better – even before I try them. They are Red Hill, a Victorian brewer known for making a fresh hop harvest beer each year from hops grown on their property. And just to mess with everyone’s heads, it’s an ESB.
2) Yeah, I know. You think “hop harvest beer” you think IPA, don’t you? Because that’s like the only beer that actually includes hops, right? But seriously, who thinks of making an ESB when looking to come out with a hop harvest beer? Red Hill does, I guess. They’ve been doing it for a while and the versions I’ve tried have been really quite good.
3) But, just when I think I’ve got them all figured out, they change it up. For this year’s harvest, they’ve delivered not one but two beers. There’s the ESB and it’s been paired up with an IPA. Because that’s what clots like me have been expecting, right? And it’s the IPA that I figured was better as soon as I opened up the care package from Red Hill.
4) That IPA flings out some pine and mango notes but there’s a confusing bitterness across the mid-palate. Maybe that’s a byproduct of brewing with super-fresh hops. Maybe it’s a byproduct of waiting a number of weeks before sampling it. All-up I found the IPA bit underwhelming but still quaffable – I banged it away in a few minutes. Must have been thirsty.
5) So it turned out I was wrong. I liked the ESB better. And not because it was a two-horse race. I liked the ESB because it’s really something special. It pours a murky brown, though I swear I could see tinges of green when I held it up to the light. There’s delicious aromas of biscuit, marmalade and pine. The beer tastes of biscuit and marmalade too, with the hop bitterness waiting until the back end to appear. It’s a very,very fine beer. I think I say that about every ESB Hop Harvest from Red Hill I’ve had but it’s absolutely true. It’s yearly release should be marked down on any beer geek’s calendar.
Free or paid for?:I got sent one of each bottle from Red Hill.
Categories: Beer of the Week