Very few breweries have made it to the drinking age in the modern era so you can forgive Hargreaves Hill for wanting to show off a little. To mark the milestone, they've dusted down a few classics, given one cult fave a new coat, and popped all four into limited edition mixed packs. Their classic ESB needs little – maybe no – introduction to readers of these pages, so let's skip to the others.
One of the first beers they ever released was founder Simon Walkenhorst's take on a German hefeweizen. His always seemed a little lighter, fruitier and less malt-heavy than many local versions and, as Hefe returns, that remains the case: a hazy pale golden pour with a bubblegum and spicy, citrusy perfume. Highly aromatic, sweet yet refreshing, and with a zingy finish.
Regular visitors to this site will know we've long been fans of the brewery's R.I.S., especially senior writer Will Ziebell. Here, the 2022 Bourbon Barrel Aged R.I.S. is the booziest of the quartet and doesn't bother attempting to disguise the months it spent in ex-bourbon barrels – why would it? – instead wearing its lush, silky character with pride. The bourbon coddles the roast-tinged chocolate fudge and dried dark fruits within a beer that’ll warm you with its spicy spiritous nature while leaving a dark liquorice bitterness in its wake. Pretty darn delish.
Which leaves the new spin on a beer that's arguably as intertwined with the Hargreaves Hill story as any other. The 2022 iteration of The Phoenix imperial red ale has been aged in moscatel barrels; for the uninitiated, that's a form of sherry, so if you didn't think the original Phoenix had an intense enough character...
Even at this early stage in its life, it's taken on heaps of barrel and residual character, with the OG's stewed, malty richness augmented by a dried fruit / fortified wine character. Any hoppiness is gone to be replaced by the red fruits you might find in a Flanders red, but without the acidity – for now – of such a Belgian beer. If it sounds like your kind of thing, the only place to get it is in these packs, and there's not many around.
Published November 25, 2022 2022-11-25 00:00:00