Beer Review: Hardys & Hansons Olde Trip

OLDE TRIP but contemporary style. Having the shield label and writing on transparent labels and a transparent bottle makes this bottle of Hardys & Hansons Olde Trip look interesting. Interesting and familiar. Something about this bottle rings a bell. I’m sure I’ve seen the crown and “Estd 1799” embossed on the shoulder of another bottle.

Hardys & Hansons Olde Trip bottle

The neck label is the only bit that isn’t transparent. That makes it look out of place. It also doesn’t tell you anything about the ale within. If you’re going to stick a label around the neck of a beer bottle, use it to describe what the beer will be like. Not that I don’t mind being totally surprised by a beer. I like it. But normal people won’t.

Hardys & Hansons Olde Trip neck label

The front label is superb. It gets everything right.

Hardys & Hansons Olde Trip front label

First of all, it’s in the shape of a shield and it has old fashioned writing. If, like me, you’re looking for interesting bottles of ale, this bodes well. Under the glorious “Olde Trip” name, it then comes in with the details you want to know. First by describing itself as a “Premium Ale”. And then by giving the alcoholic volume of 4.3%.

Okay, I do like my ale to be a little stronger than that. But you can’t fault this front label. It gets to the point in a quirky way. And that’s good.

Over on the back label, we get the sort of story we’re looking for on a bottle of British ale. We also get some much needed answers to our suspicions.

Hardys & Hansons Olde Trip back label

The story is tenuous as the best of them. This one tells us how this ale has taken it’s name from “Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem (AD1189)”. Apparently England’s oldest inn, at the foot of Nottingham Castle, where knights went for a drink before The Third Crusade. How charmingly politically incorrect. I’m liking this bottle more and more.

Under the story however, things start to look eerily familiar again. The sensible drinking message rings a bell. As does the malted barley symbol.

Down in the small print now and clearly displayed are the details you want to know. For instance, this 500ml bottle, with it’s 4.3% volume content weighs in at a reasonable 2.2 UK units of alcohol. Which means you can treat yourself to two bottle of Olde Trip before the government sends you a social worker.

Right at the very bottom of the label, in tiny writing is the answer to my suspicions. Hardys & Hansons Olde Trip is in fact brewed by Greene King in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. So, that explains that.

But, what will it be like? It’s a premium ale, so it could taste of just about anything. So the questions are simple ones. What will it taste like? And is it worth your money and time? Let’s crack it open and find out.

Hardys & Hansons Olde Trip poured

It fizzed right up. Even getting the glass in place swiftly couldn’t save a few drops from making an escape. I recommend playing video games until your reactions become fast enough to open this bottle.

Once safely in the glass however, it looks good. Not surprising. We knew exactly what colour it would be from the transparent glass bottle. But that dark ruby colour is most appetising.

It comes with a fairly good head, too. It didn’t froth up uncontrollably. Nor did it vanish into a few stray bubbles. Instead, it’s a creamy little layer.

What does it smell like? Rich and complex. There’s more different smells than I can make head or tail of. If pushed to stick my neck out, I’d say it smells chocolaty, roasted and fruity. Like a burnt Carbury’s Fruit & Nut. Maybe it’s because it’s been so very long since I had enjoyed an ale, but it smells wonderful. Not too strong and as complex traffic law.

Does it taste as delicious as it smells? A couple of gulps in, and first impressions are fairly good. It’s complex enough for me to need a few more gulps to make sense of the flavours. And it’s tasty enough to far for that to be an appealing challenge.

A few more gulps in, and Hardys & Hansons Olde Trip is coming into focus. What you get in a gulp first, are flavours. Frustratingly, they’re hard to decipher. They don’t last for long before they’re gone, wiped out by the aftertaste. The only flavours I’ve succeeding in identifying are something roasted and some fruit. The flavour part of Olde Trip isn’t exactly forthcoming.

What dominates a gulp of Olde Trip is the aftertaste. It rolls in purposefully and delivers it’s payload of hoppy bitterness. It’s a long lasting aftertaste too. How can I describe it? It tastes like a blend of leaves and twigs. And that, in my opinion, is what a hoppy and bitter ale should do.

Nearly at the bottom of the glass now, and I’m enjoying a few things about Hardys & Hansons Olde Trip. I like very much how complicated it is. I like how it looks and smells. I’m intrigued by the hoppy-ness that is, in the end, what Olde Trip is all about. I love how easy to drink it is. It’s not too bitter or off the wall to be off-putting. There is a lot to like about Hardys & Hansons Olde Trip.

Is there anything I’m not enjoying about Hardys & Hansons Olde Trip? Well, it made a mess on my kitchen work top. The flavours are hiding when they could elevate Olde Trip even higher by staying around for longer. It’s a little gassy and not easy to find in shops. Those however are not big complaints. The big complaint is that it doesn’t do anything new. I’ve tried hop driver ales before. This is an excellent example of one. But without those flavours being allowed to do something unique to the formula, it can’t make the final leap to greatness.

To sum up. Hardys & Hansons Olde Trip is an excellent example of an ale that gives you an interesting hoppy bitterness as an aftertaste. I thoroughly enjoyed this bottle. If you like this type of ale, then it’s worth your time and money. If you like light lager then you might not like it. I on the other hand have enjoyed ever gulp.

Rating: 4.29

Have you tried Hardys & Hansons Olde Trip? What did you think of it?
Leave your corrections, opinions, requests, recommendations and places to buy in the boxes below.

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