Beer somehow lends itself to humour, daftness and the downright unusual. From breweries operating from converted toilets to unusual beer names and strange combinations of ingredients, there is much in the way to ponder and amuse oneself within the world of beer drinking and brewing.
Daft Beer Names and Dafter Combinations
Although all beers fall into categories, the categories are too numerous to go into in depth, with many beers being crossovers of different drinks. You may wish to try one of these unusual beers at your local (with many pubs now selling some odd varieties) at a party, with friends or on your own. With so many to choose from, you could find yourself experimenting with different varieties for a while before settling on a few that you can regularly enjoy. Here are a few pointers in the right direction.
Beer being beer lends itself to adventurousness and risk taking. The Hogs Back Brewery are well known for the slightly baroque and very daft beer names of their ales (‘Hair of the Hog’ and ‘Hop Garden Gold’ to name just two). They seem to have surpassed even themselves with the (completely accidental) introduction of their ‘Friday 13th Ale’ which came about as a power cut interrupted production of their famous ‘TEA’ (‘Traditional English Ale’). The resulting brew tasted nothing like it should have, leading them – initially – to the idea of marketing it as ‘The Beer That Went Wrong’ . However, it being Friday 13th, the final beer name was settled upon. Never to miss an opportunity, the manufacturers now brew the same beer whenever there is a Friday 13th in the month.
St Peters Brewery produce unusual combinations of real ale, as well as some traditional beers. Their ‘Fruit Beer’, brewed using Grapefruit around a wheat beer base has a bite much as you’d expect, whilst their Honey Porter is an interesting variation of this traditional dark London brew. Their ‘King Cnut Ale’ (another interesting beer name!)is based upon a recipe over a millennium old and – like all ales of its time – contains no hops. Its ingredients, including juniper berries, spices and stinging nettles goes down very well and could have you – like Cnut, holding back the waters!
Alaskan Smoked Porter, brewed once a year in small batches is brewed using water ‘fed by glaciers’ and smoked over Alder wood pointing to the extraordinary lengths that some breweries go to. Meantime’s old Smoked Bock points to the seriousness of British brewers of late; at 6.5% and coming in 750ml bottles, this is a beer to be reckoned with, made with a blend of German hops. Meantime, unusually opt for overwhelming honesty in their own description of their beer, admitting that it is uncertain precisely what ‘Bock’ means , as it does not specify any particular beer ‘type’, but just denotes strength – how refreshing!
Cornwall is host to two rather unusual stories with regard to brewing, having been known at various points in history for brewing beers with cockerels feet and pigeon faeces – which at one point was thought to be a healthy food!
If that last story has left you worried about what you may find in your beer, rest assured that the world’s smallest brewery, housed in a converted outside men’s toilet in Wales is Bragdy Ty Bach (the Ty Bach Brewery), is a clean establishment, the men’s toilets now being housed inside the pub adjacent to it!
‘He was a Wise Man Who Invented Beer’
To be sure, we probably all have stories relating to the seriousness, strangeness and downright oddness of beer brewing, drinking and drunkenness.
The ‘Hall of Shame’ from the popular beer website ‘Beermad’ points to the extraordinary and sometimes embarrassing lengths that drinkers will go to obtain information about their favourite brew. These responses to some very odd inquisitive e-mails point to the overall daftness that beer induces as the favourite drink of a nation that also produced Monty Python and the Goons (both of which were certainly beer influenced). However, as Plato argues (in the above heading), beer is a wise mans drink, and as Frank Zappa argues: ‘You can’t be a Real Country unless you have a BEER and an airline — it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a BEER.’
So next time you try an unusual beer, just think of England (so to speak) and whilst you are at it, see if you can’t add to the tally of those funny or strange drinking stories!