The story of Hargreaves Hill and its very literal resurrection from the ashes of Black Saturday is well known (if not, click here) but it sometimes seems as though this particular brew slips beneath the radar when it comes to ‘Wow!’ beers. Under the direction of Glen Harrison, who recently moved on to man the mash paddle at Temple Brewing) the ESB saw a legion of fans both new and ‘rusted-on’ seek out this tasty brew.
New Head Brewer, Kai Dambergs (White Rabbit) has picked up where Glen left off and has ensured the ESB is as well-balanced, hoppily-intriguing and warmly malty as ever. A clever ‘new world’ blend of sessionability and bold hop aroma and flavour with a firm but inviting bitterness, the Hargreaves Hill ESB sits somewhere between an English Bitter and an APA. Dare I say it – it might be yet another take on the XPA? XSB, anyone?
and so to the beer…
“This bitter has delicious fruity aromas of passionfruit and grapefruit, which are produced by ‘dry-hopping’. The hops add flavour and aroma without bitterness at this point, and give the beer a great pungency and depth. The beer also has a rich malt profile which balances the bitterness well.”
This from unabashed fan, James Smith of The Crafty Pint;
“The beer that, more than any other, brought Hargreaves Hill to the attention of the wider world. A New World take on a traditional English style, it turned heads with huge, fragrant hop aromas seldom found in Australian beers at the time and a rich, toffee-like malt body shot through with passionfruit and a healthy whack of hop bitterness to finish. Previously only available in draught form, the second half of 2010 saw popular demand sated when it finally appeared in bottles, one of two beers selected to launch the brewery’s new range of four-packs whose look mimics the restaurant in Yarra Glen. Today, a little leaner and hoppier, it remains a perennial favourite among Aussie craft beer lovers.”
Beer Bud Beer Boutique writes;
“Our cult beer, this is a “new world” interpretation of the classic English style. This ale features considerable crystal malt character as a backbone to carry the hefty bitterness. Substantially dry hopped with carefully selected hops from US and Australia, this adds prominent aroma and flavour notes of grapefruit and ripe passionfruit.”
The Sip, written for The West Australian by Ross Lewis says;
“There is a wonderful caramel malt aroma to this beverage. There is the unmistakable dry flavour from the hops that are sourced from Australia, New Zealand and the US. The ESB has a stern bitterness but it isn’t overtly strong. It leaves a pleasant but lingering finish after the detection of the citrus undertone. This might be an interpretation of an old English style beer. But you can taste an Australian influence. From where the brewers have been the ESB is something of which they can be extremely proud.”
The Critics’ Choice has seen the HH ESB make its way into the top echelon at #6, #17, #10 and #11 although the true nature of its style is a point of discussion;
“Is it an Extra Special Bitter? Is it an English Special Bitter? Or is it an American style Pale Ale in disguise? Beer lovers will debate the details but no one will deny that this is a beautiful beer to drink.” [Pete Mitcham]
“Hargreaves Hill’s signature and head-turning beer. Perhaps not as widely known nationally as it is in its home state it is still the perennial favourite amongst those who have tried it and wish they could get it at home. The new world interpretation can confound, but still manages to delight.” [Matt Kirkegaard]
The question of ‘style’ is further pondered over at 2 Hop Heads blog with this;
“From the 1st whiff you can’t be blamed for thinking there was an APA in your glass. Bitter, yet fruity hops such as grapefruit, passion fruit and lychee dominate. After a steady swirl of the glass sits an otherwise dormant caramel and spice to balance. Slightly buttery. Mild-medium carbonation with a subtle dry mouth feel. Big, fruit driven palate reflects grapefruit notes upfront with soft hints of mandarin, orange peel and caramel in the mid-palate. Long citrus finish. Good length. 5.2 % ABV. ESB? We’d say APA. But a very good one at that. Still rates highly with us. Good beer.”