Monday 28 November 2016

Hibernal Glow - a winter warmer

Buy Hibernal Glow

Well, here we go, the big rundown to Chrimbo. Every year we question if we should do a Christmas beer or not. Will it all sell, or will we have a job-lot left effectively unsalable in the New Year.

We've been lucky with our previous offer, Figgy Pudding, and managed to sell it all in time for Christmas. However, with the margins on beer being so damn tight it is important not to end up with waste that effectively turns margins into a negative number.

This year we went for something that was sort of Christmassy, but still without being overtly packaged as such. It's really just a winter warmer, a beer to hibernate with.

We made a chocolate orange porter, because it's a nice thing to have this time of year. Packed with orange peel and cocoa nibs you can certainly say that both are there in abundance.

I love winter in Cumbria. At least when it is cold and clear, rather than that miserable wet and windy season. I've been out on the fells and got various bits of imagery of our inspirational county, and bunged it into a very short video.

As usual we worked very hard to get a label design that matched the quality of our beer. The guys at LemonTop Creative pulled out all the stops and produced the rather arty design very befitting of the work of art inside the bottle. I'm really pleased with it, both the label and the beer.

It's getting to be a bit of an obsession of mine to take the label artwork and bring it to life. It is a sort of outward expression of intent as to the inward effort we put into creating our beers.

Hibernal Glow from Hardknott Brewery on Vimeo.

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Rhetoric IV - the conclusion

It's been a long year it would seem. Although of course the time it has taken the Earth to actually circle the sun has not varied by any conceivable variation, it's just it seems like a long year to this carbon based Earth dwelling organism.

The Earth has nearly completed 11 full orbits of our closest star since I first mashed in. For our Tenth Anniversary year we felt should be marked with something special, and so this is exactly what we did.

We ended last year by brewing Rhetoric IV. The fourth, if you have a struggle with Roman numerals, in our series of experimental beers. It is a peat smoked porter. We put some of it into three separate spirit casks, and applied a certain degree of patience.

The long wait is over and we have now bottled these beers. Labels will be here in a day or two. It is a fairly simple job to run these bottles through the labelling machine and so be able to get them out to people far and wide.

You can buy these beers on our website, of course. But to help you out, and to give folk a chance to try these beers together, we are organising a few Meet The Brewer type things in various locations. We will be bringing a small sample of all our Rhetorics for a rare opportunity for a vertical tasting of all 7 versions.

The Hardknott Anniversary Roadshow

Cherry Reds, Birmingham - Friday 2nd December 6 - 8pm
Otter's Tears, Burslem, Stoke on Trent - Saturday 3rd December 7 - 9pm
The Tap House, Lancaster - Wednesday 7th December 7 - 9pm

Locations where details are still to be confirmed;

The Free Trade Inn, Newcastle-upon-Tyne - "sometime after the 12th"
The Mill, Ulverston, - date to be confirmed
Somewhere in Scotland, hopefully - details still to be clarified
And others still in discussion

About the beers

Rhetoric IV.I - peat smoked imperial stout

Total of around 3,000 bottles produced

This was the original beer using peat smoked malt. It's a great big imperial stout at 11% and gives big chocolate and raisins in the aroma, a taste of orange pith and of course an edgy smoky note reminiscent of a good peated whisky.

Works really well matched with mature cheese.

Rhetoric IV.II - wine cask matured imperial stout

Total of around 620 bottles produced

We put about 220 litres of beer into a red wine cask.

The most striking thing is that the oak has mellowed the peat smoke considerably. So much so that were we to do it again we would increase the peated malt. We get earthy tannic dryness, a hint of mint, peppery merlot and camphor cedar.

Matches well with haggis or orange duck savoury.

Rhetoric IV.III - brandy cask matured imperial stout

Total of around 480 bottles produced

Here we put around 200 litres in a brandy cask. Unfortunately we had a minor issue with the bottling line where a filling valve stuck open. It happens very occasionally. We lost around 30 litres of very delicious beer!

Again, a much reduced smokiness but a lovely in-yer-face milk chocolate tone, very liqueury nose, candy cinnamon spice aroma, destinct coffee and tones of liquorice.

Matches well with apple slice or gingerbread.

Rhetoric IV.IV - whisky cask matured imperial stout

Total of around 550 bottles produced

Again, about 200 litres went into a whisky cask. It seems the distillers have got a little cautious now about what brewers are using which casks and we got very little detail about the cask. It's normal ends were painted over to prevent us seeing the brand.

A significant problem with all of the casks was the debris from the charred insides of the cask. The whiskey cask in particular was very troublesome.

The resultant beer however is a striking with a campfire and charred wood thing reminiscent of simple fire baked bread. Toasted, roasted, smoky oak chips. Mellow cherry aroma and a glace cherry taste.

Matches well with plum crumble.