Red Rock Hoppy Chrimbo (500ml bottle, 4.0% ABV)
Red Rock are a Devon brewery founded in 2006. Like many modern breweries, they divide their range up into categories, in this case: traditional beer, craft beer and ‘slow’ beer (which makes much use of natural, local ingredients, such as elderflowers and blackberries).
No prizes, though, for guessing that Hoppy Chrimbo is a Christmas beer, which means it must be strong, dark and spiced, right? Nope.
At only 4%, and with a pronounced hoppiness, this is a brew that bucks the trend. A rich amber colour in the glass, it has a vigorous fizz to it that sees the bubbles on the surface constantly bursting and being replenished from below.
A sweet and floral aroma carries through to the palate, where the citrussy nature of the US Amarillo hops come to the fore. But unlike many hoppy US ales, where the malt is just there to showcase the hops, Hoppy Chrimbo has an unusual body and depth, especially for a beer so light. Whether that’s due to the addition of oats, or some of the darker malts that also give the beer its colour, I don’t know, but it results in a welcome warmth that perfectly complements the bitterness.
The texture is bubbly, smooth and quaffable, and it finishes with a tangy, juicy hop bitterness.
So is it truly a Christmas beer? It hardly matters – I’d be happy to drink this one all year round.
Written by Richard Salsbury