Hook Norton is only about five or six miles away from where I live and I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the -still family owned- brewery on a couple of occasions. It appears lost in time, and retains so many original features that are still in daily use. If you’re ever up this way it’s well worth a visit.
Anyway, on with the review and accompanying naval analogy that I’m literally going to stretch to breaking point (you have been warned)
Flagship pours with a lovely polished brass binnacle colour, a hearty but steady-as-she-goes bottle-conditioned effervescence bears aloft a stable head the colour of a Napoleonic flag of surrender.
Admiral hops contribute to a subtle hoppy aroma that could almost be that of Nelson Sauvin (and I’m not just saying that for the sake of the Nelson reference!) crisp white wine, lemon and pine feature strongly.
The first taste was a broadside of extraordinarily clean bitterness, which blasted across the poop deck to leave a satisfying, and not at all cloying, malty character and a tot of alcoholic warmth; all of which quickly dissipated at the swallow to leave a really fresh bittersweet citrus dose of grapeshot hops to the back of the tongue.
This is a really great English style IPA, with just the faintest influence of the American style craft IPA.
At 5.5% it’s a bit of a dreadnought, but it’s so well crafted that you’ll barely notice the strength – until you’ve had three, after which you’ll be pitching, rolling before eventually finding yourself wallowing in the troughs.
Buy some if you see it; take it out on a boat, don an admiral’s hat and eye-patch if you must, but definitely try it.
You won’t regret it.
My wife bought this for me, from somewhere…probably the co-ey, as she goes past there on the way home. She did tell me that it was about £1.95 or something. Which I think represents excellent value.