Mad Hatter Brewing have just turned Two, and only having had a few of their beers before, I took a trip to deepest Armley to pick up a selection from Raynville Superstore. An unassuming neighbourhood convenience shop from the outside, the owner's Son has been busy stocking the shelves with the best craft beer from the UK and beyond. Along with the three Mad Hatter picks I'm drinking tonight, I also restocked with more Thornbridge and Wild Beer bottles, at a very reasonable price.
Based in Liverpool's Baltic Triangle, Mad Hatter have not only entered my radar for the excellent reputation of their Beer, but also for their distinctive, playful Artwork. Tying their Alice in Wonderland-influenced branding to a distinctly Merseyside personality, the bottles really leap off the shelf, however I'm fully expecting the substance of the contents to be the main star.
So, to the first of tonight's selection - Rhubarb and Custard Saison. Cloudy to style, with a thin head and smoothly carbed, the beer is brewed with the Rhubarb Triangle's finest, Vanilla pods and Brettanomyces yeast. Acidic and tart, the sour sweet sensation of Rhubarb is perfectly captured in the initial sweet rush and the bitter earthy finish. Brett helps to intensify the flavours of the ingredients and the addition of the yeast strain has resulted in a great, gently sour beer.
A quick rinse of the glass, and I've poured Follow the White Rabbit - a White IPA. If you're not familiar with the variation to the normal IPA style, wheat is added to the malt bill along with spices and other elements to create a hybrid of IPA and Belgian Wit. Mad Hatter's version is hopped with Citra and Sorachi Ace. Sorachi is often referred to a divisive hop, some love the bubblegum flavour, some hate it, personally I'm in the former category. Full-bodied and unfiltered, the cloudy appearance conceals a citric hop sharpness that gives way to a smooth lemon curd wheatiness.
My final beer of the night is Nightmare on Bold St. A milk stout, the name is a nod to the Bold Street Coffee Co, who supplied the Coffee Beans used in the brew. Comparatively, this is a more simple, classically styled beer to the others I've tried tonight, but that's not to downplay its appeal. The sweet, roasted flavours give way to a dry finish. Neither thin nor full bodied but rich with lactic, I find this to be a perky, warming Stout which is accessible and delicious.
Words - Gareth Pettman
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