Hardknott (Cumbria), Azimuth 5.8 per cent/ £2.25
When he realised his beer was both popular and delicious, he decided to hang up the bar towel and take up the malt shovel full time.
This is, of course, an excellent thing because in collaboration with his partner in crime Ann, Hardknott has become quite popular around the country, and even exports some beer these days, releasing a steady stream of flavourful, imaginative brews in a wide variety of styles.
Azimuth, its first ‘proper’ IPA (although it also regularly brews a red IPA, Infra Red, and a Belgian variant called Queboid) is not a ridiculous hop bomb. We’ll get that out of the way here; if you’re after a roundhouse kick of aroma, or a blitzkrieg of bitterness, it just isn’t here, but you shouldn’t pass Azimuth over because of this.
Pouring a golden copper with a loose, titanium white head, a refreshing, delicate aroma of crisp russet apples and quinces finishes with a nudge of apricots and nectarines. Light and dry on the palate, with an initial burst of pear sweetness, a woody, drying bitterness soon spreads across the tongue. There’s a touch of lemongrass and black pepper here too, playing across the blanket of pine laid down in the finish. It’s not an endurance test, it’s a delicate, complex, and ultimately drinkable take on a style that many brewers have tried, and failed, to achieve.
Recommended by Michael Bates, Trembling Madness, 48 Stonegate, York