Of course, Hardknott like to be different. We brew Infra Red as our 6.2% IPA despite complaints that it's got too much Crystal malt in it. I like it, and it seems quite a few other people are reasonably happy with it too. We know it has a fairly narrow appeal, and tends to be a bit of a marmite beer. Drinkers who like it tend to really like it. Anyone who isn't keen, really isn't keen. It's a niche beer and therefore has a narrow market. We like it the way it is, so we aren't changing it.
However, everyone else is making proper IPAs at that strength. You know the type, nice and pale, plenty of West Cost American or NZ contemporary hops. Nice balance of malt sweetness to give a very satisfying fruity Indian Pale Ale. Our recent collaboration with John Keeling of Fullers has been incredibly successful. The English Experiment has enjoyed a good reception from quite a few people whose opinions I respect.
The English Experiment also sells well, which is a very important point. You may have heard that we are expanding a little. That means we want to ensure people have no excuse for not buying our beer.
We1 brewed the first ever batch of our new 5.8% IPA yesterday. It builds on everything we have already done, copies ideas from other people where needed, and then we added a very healthy dose of our own Hardknott stamp of authority. We think you'll like it. We really hope you'll like it.
Today we named it. Alex used to mess around on ships in a previous employ, which links nicely to the IPA theme. I have always had a fascination with maps, navigation, astronomy and geographic learning. Azimuth seems a name that fits the occasion, so that's what we'll call it. It's a beer with direction, you see.
We'll be serving it, assuming nothing goes terribly wrong, at the Leeds International Beer Festival. You can come along, try it, tell us what you think and then we'll go away and try and improved the recipe based on what you've told us. A month later we'll be at the Independent Manchester Beer Convention with the new improved version. We will again listen, take in everything you tell us, go away and have another go.
It's not really possible to involve the beer drinker any closer than this without actually getting them to brew the beer.
1Actually, Alex brewed it whilst we were out delivering. We had a few email exchanges discussing hopping regimes, which was tricky when I was on the M1, having to pull off into the services to make replies.
It was the first time Alex brewed when I was outside Cumbria. It has to happen occasionally as I'd like to have a holiday sometime.