I was just at the Royston with Stass and seeing the day was nice but a little cool, we both felt a Extra Special Bitter may be the way to go. Seeing they have 2 on tap at the moment, we thought we would try them both out against each other.
If you said to me a year ago I would enjoy the Hargreaves over the Holgate, I probably would strongly disagreed (to say it mildly), especially after the trip Mick and I went on last year out to the Holgate Brewery. For us, it was the best beer in the range overall, and having it available on the handpump had only improved my enjoyment of the beer. Still, in recent months I have found myself a little disappointed in it, with a watery body and taste up front, a little caramel malt on the midpalate and a fairly subdued finish. What was a nice staple of mine is now relegated as a 'once in a while' beer, just to see if it has improved to where I thought it was previously. Yet, for me, it just hasn't.
As for the Hargreaves, I remember trying it earlier this year, and being disappointed for probably the same reason I am disappointed in the Holgate ESB now. Tonight though, it seems to have changed, and they have really ramped up the bitterness in it. To be honest, it sort of reminded me more of an IPA than English Bitter, but then I may be relying too much on style, and in comparison with the 'watery' Holgate. But for me it is just funny that a brewery I have a great deal of regard and enjoy many Holgate beers, that I see just this one quite diminished. I was actually just having the Chocolate Porter just last night with Mick, Nicolette and Stew, and it still has that creamy body with luscious chocolate (in fact it seemed even more chocolately!), so I just don't understand why I have felt this change in the ESB. I know they have an upgraded version of the ESB in the UXB, which on the Holgate visit I found a bit extreme at either end of the scale.
So, not a great experience to have, to feel a beer has changed for the worse (in my opinion), but I guess that can happen in the brewing industry, for whatever reason...