Prologue: We have been on a Harvest Beer spree of late. First was Bright’s Topaz, and then Bridge Road’s version, and now to another of the brilliant Victorian microbreweries Red Hill and their Harvest Ale.
Made up reader’s question: Hey Leon, I’ve really missed you, hey dude can you tell me what a Harvest Ale is?
Hey made up question guy, I’ve missed you too, it’s been so long since you wrote in to ask a question on a post you couldn’t possibly have ever seen. A harvest ale is the beer that breweries make with the just harvested hops plants.
In Red Hill’s case they grow the hops for this brew on site in, not surprisingly Red Hill. I have it on good authority that they harvested the hops in Mid March, it then gets thrown into the brewing thing-a-ma-gig and out pops some beer.
A harvest brew can be any style, This one is an English style bitter, Bridge’s Road is a Pale Ale and Bright’s is described as a Marzen. The important bit though is that the hops are front and centre of any Harvest brew.
Packaging: The usual Red Hill packaging – classy, simple, strong, and wholefoods-y
Appearance: Dark and opaque with a creamy off white head
Smell: It smells of sweet fruits, like prunes and over ripe plums.
Taste: Quite bitter straight away, but not surprisingly more in the gassy English style than the big hoppy lingering bitterness of American Pale Ales. There are some fruit tones in there but it wasn’t as interesting as I hoped, but I think that’s a personal preference thing (I don’t tend to like English bitters) rather than a fault of the beer.
Random Wikipedia Fact: Did you know that Hops are female? I bet you didn’t. It’s a great excuse to share a beer with you female friends/relatives/partners/random chick you met in a bar.
In conclusion: A perfectly good beer, interesting hop characters, and surprisingly easy to drink given the higher alcohol content (6%) I enjoyed it, but due to it being a style I don’t adore, I have to say I wasn’t blown away. Bright Brewery’s Topaz (despite the lower rating on here driven by the collective voting system in place that night) is still my favourite harvest ale for 2011.
Ranking: I’ll have a Pint thanks