Hullo there folks [and happy birthday Elvis]! Hope you’ve had a jolly festive few weeks, not to mention seeing in the new year with a fine selection of beverages. Start as you mean to go on, and all that! Not to brag or anything, but I’ve been having a relaxed time catching up with friends and family, even taking some locally-brewed Cross Bay ales down to Bolton to share with some old uni mates. Anyway, I’m reviewing something completely different today, but delicious nonetheless.
This ‘Hook Island Red’ is something I’ve kept hold of for a while. I bought it at The Wineyard and Deli a while back, along with the Five Points Pale. The pale was lovely, somehow surprisingly so, but I review a lot of those types of beer on here, so saved the red for you folks out there! There’s no better time of year to review darker beers, and this one was unexpected, I must say.
- ABV: 6%
- Brewed in London, England [Hackney, no less]
- Comes in 330ml bottles
- Grains: Malted barley and Rye
- Hops: Chinook, Columbus and Simcoe
Look As you can see from the picture, it’s a strikingly simple bottle.
In the glass it has a loose head that dissipates quickly. It’s a hazy reddy-brown, like a young chestnut, but quite translucent when held up to the light. 5/10
Aroma It has a sweet, fruity nose of raisins and maybe dried apricots. As soon as I opened it I got this big aromatic whiff – very attractive! I get a light grassiness, too, and wet, milky malt smells. Not overly powerful, but intriguing and pleasant enough. 6/10
Taste Very yummy indeed – quite intensely fruity with grapes, raisins and apricots, along with vanilla and toasty caramel flavours. The sweetness is expertly tempered by a delicious tickle of grassy, almost nettle-y hops. Chocolatey malts are present, and a refreshing, yet warming effect. Plenty going on here, yet all restrained and working well together – great! 8/10
Value At £2.55 a bottle, this was pretty cheap. When I consider how much I enjoyed it, I’d definitely get more at this price – that’s a ringing endorsement! 8/10
Session This is a good session beer on a number of counts. I love it when flavours develop that you didn’t get on your first taste – and I found banoffee as I drank a little more. With it being so well-balanced, the ‘darker’ flavours never weigh you down, and the beer continues to refresh. So, light enough to quaff, but could catch up with you at 6% ABV! 8/10
Unusually for a red ale, there’s a disappointing score for the look, but that factors in the bottle too, which is only eye-catching when not next to other simple designs. I loved the taste of it, and only wish that the aroma was more of a punch than a tickle – but we can’t have everything. I certainly recommend you give this one a go if you can.
Final score: 70/100