I know that Hardknott beers tend to show up quite often here, but the thing is they make a lot of monsters, and they’re so very very hard to resist when I see them in shops. So, essentially, it’s their fault and not mine.
Here we have Colonial Mayhem, an 8.1% ABV “colonial Mild with juicy new world hops”. Considering that milds are traditionally fairly weak and lightly hopped, I’m really not sure what to expect!
It certainly looks the part with a deep, dark red colour in the glass and a fairly open, lingering off-white head on it. The nose is rich and fruity – dates, blackberries and overripe oranges – and there’s definitely a whiff of the alcohol there too. Enticing, but nothing out of the ordinary for a strong dark beer.
In the mouth, it’s a very different story. Big bodied with some nice carbonation through it, the first thing you notice is that sticky sweet fruit along with a balancing alcohol heat. Over time, the hops start to put in an appearance – some bitterness, which is well controlled, and a whole lot more fruit; lighter flavours with sweet strawberries and tart raspberries that blend delightfully with the darker, stickier tones.
The finish is gently fizzy, with a lingering bitter tang finally putting in an appearance and dry, alcohol heat. The stickiness is gone but not forgotten and you’re instantly reaching for another sip.
So, is it really a mild? Not in my book, no. But it’s another superbly complex monster.