Not Drinking But Reading

I’m not, by any measure, a beer person so why spend ten minutes in the beer section in the Stratford Garden Centre near Warwick? Because of the names. Check them out.

Shropshire Lad (sounds like a greyhound but is actually an 1896 poetry anthology by English poet, Alfred Housman.

The Village Bike

Otter Bright

Dorothy Goodbody

Auntie Myrtle’s

Double Header

Roaring Meg


Hog’s Back Brewery

Boondoggle pub

More gastronomically appealing to me were the wines. Their labels aroused both my curiosity and reservation: peach, sloe, elderberry, elderflower, damson, blackcurrant, blackberry, blackbeer and raisin, strawberry, gooseberry, apricot, parsnip and birch.

Then I found The Bottle in Stonegate in the heart of York. The House of the Trembling Madness, a pub in a medieval drinking hall, sits above and is accessed via the shop.

The proprietor is sorry he can only stock about 600 beers, not the approximately 1000 to which he has access. The front room holds ciders and cold beers. The room behind is an Aladdin’s cave for beer connoisseurs. On the right side are the beers from the British Isles; on the left, the rest of the world. Spirits from around the globe are amassed below ground in a small room.

I bought the BB a St Peter’s cream stout. I had no idea how to choose and noticed after purchase that it hefted 6.5% alcohol. Unbeknown to me, the BB and one of his colleagues have a theory about alcohol, well borne out by this particular beer: too much alcohol = too sweet. Perhaps I should have followed the advice staring me in the face and bought ‘Best Bitter’ by Copper Dragon. But 600 beers! How does one choose?

If you’re feeling a bit peckish you could go for Banana Bread Beer, Double Chocolate Stout, Triple Chocoholic, Hazelnut Coffee Porter or Treacle Stout.

Depending on the effect you’re after there’s Skull Splitter, Rapture and Proper Job.

In a city such as this, St Peter’s Ruby Red Ale, Bishops Farewell (sic), York Minster Ale and Holy Grail are appropriate.

It’s a veritable atlas in there with Wolds Way, Wold Top, Centenary Way, Moortop or Yorkshire Moors.

And here’s some others from the British Isles:


Coalition Old Ale

Dragon Heart

Ramsbottom Strong Ale

Ilkey Black

Old Engine Oil

Greengrass Old Rogue Ale

Yorkshire Stingo (Perhaps this has a similar effect to the ointment ‘stingoes’ which, when applied to insect bites in sufficient quantities, removes the pain.)

Monkey Wrench

Old Leg Over

Monkman’s Slaughter

Old Goat

Stoney Binks

Sneck Lifter

Mars Magic

Axe Edge

Cut Throat Porter

Waggle Dance

Theakston Old Peculier (sic)

Monty Python’s Holy Grail which is “tempered over burning witches”.

Pendle Witches Brew (sic)

Battle Axe

5am Saint – an “iconoclastic ale”

Trashy Blonde – “You know you shouldn’t”

Punk IPA – “Post-modern classic pale ale”

What would you choose?

I’ve been advised that beer is a tonic for staghorn plants and an excellent lure for snails and slugs. Now I have another use for it – pure entertainment.


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