Hawkshead Stout, IPA and Export

Hawkshead bottled beers: IPA, Dry Stone Stout and Brodie's Prime Export.

Hawkshead of Cumbria is one of those breweries whose beer we’ve read more about than we’ve drunk. Best known for their pale-and-hoppy session ales, and much beloved of our northern beer blogging peers, they have recently acquired their own bottling line, and sent us three beers to try.

Dry Stone Stout (4.5% ABV) is a great name for a beer, sug­gest­ing the Cum­bri­an land­scape as well as indi­cat­ing, we assume, the intend­ed char­ac­ter of the beer. It looked entic­ing in the glass, unc­tu­ous, and with a dark, immove­able head. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this bot­tle, from the first batch off Hawk­shead­’s new bot­tling line, seemed to have gone a bit wrong. Where we expect­ed flinty aus­ter­i­ty, we found an over­whelm­ing­ly but­tery, tof­feeish, Werther’s Orig­i­nals char­ac­ter.  Boak, tak­ing it as a kind of ‘Caramel Short­bread Stout’, rather enjoyed it; Bai­ley found it undrink­able.

Mod­ern aro­mat­ic IPAs seem to fall into two broad cat­e­gories: trop­i­cal-fruity and weedy-leafy. Hawk­shead­’s name­less ver­sion (7%) is firm­ly in the lat­ter camp. It gave off a sweet pipe tobac­co aro­ma on pour­ing, and its taste pro­vid­ed reminders of pine, lemon ver­be­na, mead­ow grass, and, er, oth­er type of grass. It shares some of the pleas­ing­ly raw char­ac­ter of Brew­dog Punk IPA at is best, and is sim­i­lar­ly dry. We found it nice­ly clean with no inter­fer­ing ‘off’ notes. If it has a flaw, it might be that it is not ter­ri­bly dis­tinc­tive – why would we buy this rather than any oth­er IPA of around the same strength? (See also North­ern Monk Brew Co New World IPA.) Nonethe­less, we liked it a lot, and would cer­tain­ly buy a few bot­tles if the price was right.

We fin­ished on a real­ly inter­est­ing beer – Brodies Prime Export (8.5%), a stronger ver­sion of one of Hawk­shead­’s flag­ship prod­ucts. Almost-black and red-tinged, it remind­ed us at once, not of anoth­er beer, but of Pedro Ximenez, a sweet for­ti­fied wine made from raisins, with a bare­ly per­cep­ti­ble top note of grape­fruit spray. It also brought to mind that bot­tle of 30-odd-year-old Adnams’ Tal­ly Ho we drank last year, only with­out the unpleas­ant funk­i­ness. In oth­er words, Brodie’s Prime Export tastes like a ready-aged beer. It is rather clas­si­cal and classy, despite its ‘craft’ brand­ing, and gets four thumbs up from us.

6 thoughts on “Hawkshead Stout, IPA and Export”

  1. If you guys ever ven­ture north a ‘must vis­it’ is one of the Hawk­shead Brew­ery beer fes­ti­vals. The one in July is always notably good.

  2. What does the export sug­gest? Just strength? Used to be more com­mon here, a lin­ger­ing ref­er­ences to Cana­di­an sales to US boot­leg­gers.

    1. Yes, just a ref­er­ence to strength, as far as we can tell. Rarely used over here, either, most promi­nent exam­ple being Carls­berg (brewed in the UK, weak) and Carls­berg Export (which is, er, import­ed, and actu­al­ly the *real* Carls­berg).

      1. It’s an unusu­al and rather anti­quat­ed usage – see­ing it you sort of know what they’re get­ting at (strength main­ly), but it’s not as if we’re beset on every side with Adnam’s Broad­side Export or BD Punk IPA Export.

        Some­one on anoth­er blog was talk­ing about Brodie’s Prime Reserve the oth­er day; I chipped in and said “oh yeah, had that”, when (on check­ing my own notes) I’d actu­al­ly had BP Export. On bal­ance I think they should prob­a­bly come up with dif­fer­ent names – it’s not as if Brodie’s Prime is that much of a name to con­jure with.

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