Hardknott Infra Red - a supercharged beast of a beer

Hardknott brewery get a lot of much deserved attention from beer geeks and bloggers, but are not a regular sight on most bars across the UK, and even their bottled wares are distinctly limited edition and fairly hard to come by (online is your best bet). It's not a marketing ploy to create buzz, they are just genuinely pretty small and at the moment demand far outstrips demand.

I've only had a few bottled Hardknott beers and until recently had never tried any of their cask beer. Thankfully
Mr Foley's in Leeds look determined to rectify this situation and have had quite a few Hardknott beers on recently.

So on to the very special beer at hand, Infra Red, a hybrid red/amber ale heavily hopped with Cascade and Centennial.

In the glass the beer is bright red with hints of brown and a tight head that laces the glass thickly as you drink, it's a really stunning looking beer with an appearance unlike anything I've really seen. There's a lot of toffee and brown sugar on the nose and a little of this carries through into the flavour which is full bodied, with great mouthfeel and a general richness of flavour. The taste is like a super hopped ESB - I was expecting more of a red IPA but this definitely isn't that.

There's lots of berry fruit and classic English malt flavour but with a massive kick of spicy, aromatic hops that are quite dry in the finish. As well as those drying hops there's a touch of booze which comes in really late and a very slight roasted character, which is very subtle and sits behind the fruit and hops.

It's very unusual, something I've come to expect from Hardknott. It's challenging yet familiar, modern yet classic, a British Bitter on steroids - but most importantly it's just a really, really tasty beer.

You can follow Dave, Head Brewer and owner of Hardknott, on Twitter to get the inside scoop on their beers.

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