BeerCast #54 – What’s in a name?

Posted by on Dec 11, 2010 in BeerCasts, English Beer | No Comments

Our 54th BeerCast revolves around the theme of names – and highlights five unusually titled-beers. Our panel also discuss the wacky real ale stereotypes of such (genuine) examples as Crafty Shag and Hairy Helmet. Thankfully the examples tonight aren’t quite as extreme – although we do begin with Old Slap and Tickle (4.0%), produced by Integrated Bottling Solutions in Gloucestershire. We follow that with Marble Dobber (5.9%) from Manchester, and then head over the Pennines to Tadcaster for Samuel Smith’s Yorkshire Stingo (9.0%). Our fourth beer is Criminally Bad Elf (10.5%) from Ridgeway via Hepworth’s, before we finish with a bonus beer – the newly released Kernel Brewery IPA S.C.A.NS. (7.7%). On the panel today are Shovels, Richard, Grooben, and back for his third BeerCast appearance – Stuart.

1. Old Slap and Tickle (4.0%abv)
Integrated Bottling Solutions, Coleford, Gloucestershire.
500ml glass bottle

Integrated Bottling Solutions – or Branded Drinks – are a contract brewery previously known as the Wessex Craft Brewery Co-op. Based in Gloucestershire, most of their beers have unusual names (Jockstrap, Old Gee Spot, Old Shag) and ‘cheeky’ labels. They also used to brew beers for other producers, such as Freeminer. Old Slap and Tickle is a 4% bitter.

What’s In a Name? – Slap and Tickle
A British euphemism for sexual activity, informal playful kissing or caressing, foreplay, or, now, often, sexual intercourse. Also refers to a funky style of bass guitar. “Slap And Tickle” was the fourth and final single released from Squeeze’s second album, Cool for Cats. []

What They Say
“Hops, malt & water slapped together. Enough to tickle anyone’s tastebuds.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Shovels – Smells slightly smoky, and of burnt caramel 5
Grooben – Manages to be sweet and really bitter at once 4
Stu – Didn’t like the first taste, second not too bad 3
Richard – Soapy and medicinal, I don’t like that in any way 2

2. Marble Dobber
Marble Brewery, Manchester
500ml glass bottle

The Marble Arch on Rochdale Road is one of the most heralded pubs in Manchester. Nestled behind the main building is a small five barrel plant microbrewery, which many beer writers tipped to be worth watching in 2010. So it proved, as their range of organic and vegetarian-approved beers have been winning fans all over the blogosphere. Visitors to the pub can watch the brewing equipment operating behind glass display doors, and they produce a range of bottled beers for drinkers around the country. Dobber is one of their strongest, at 5.9% abv.

What’s In a Name? – Dobber
A tool used to play bingo, a member of the working class in Scotland with poor taste in clothes and no social skills, an Australian who informs on others, a small electrical device that plugs into a larger one, a float used by anglers, a type of wasp, Scottish slang for the male genitalia, and…a large marble. [Wikipedia]

What They Say
“The balance of hops provides a great aroma which follows through in the taste and lasts long afterwards. A massive beer in all senses and a perfect IPA.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Richard – Big citrus hops, really can’t taste much alcohol
Shovels – Hop stuff I like but grapefruit aftertaste I don’t
Stu – Not as smooth as other IPA’s but I am enjoying it 6
Grooben – Gone too far with the citrusy acid thing for my taste 6

3. Samuel Smith’s Yorkshire Stingo
Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery, Tadcaster, Yorkshire.
500ml glass bottle

Taddy is home to two giant brewers – the distantly related John Smiths and Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery. The former are owned by Scottish and Newcastle, the latter are still independent – although they were started by members of the same family back in the mid-19th Century (Samuel being a cousin of John). These days, Sam Smith’s use Yorkshire square fermenters and retain their links to tradition by delivering their products on a shire horse-driven dray (within a certain distance of Tadcaster).

What’s In a Name? – Stingo
”A fashionable slang word of the eighteenth century for strong beer originating in the North of England. It was first mentioned in literature before 1700, and derives from the word sting.” []

What They Say
“Yorkshire Stingo is aged for at least a year, matured in these well-used oak casks in the brewery’s underground cellars deriving fruit, raisin, treacle toffee, Christmas pudding and slight oaky flavours, before being further naturally conditioned in bottle.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Stu – I’m a man with a sweet tooth so I’m enjoying that
Richard – Syrupy sweetness with some sherry in there as well
Grooben – I’m usually dead against this kind of beer but it works 7
Shovels – Smells whisky-like, with some prunes. I was expecting it to be bad, but it’s quite well balanced 7

4. Criminally Bad Elf
Ridegway Brewery, South Stoke, Oxfordshire (brewed at Hepworth’s, Horsham, West Sussex)
500ml glass bottle

Ridgeway can be loosely pushed into two pigeonholes – as a phoenix brewery, and a cuckoo brewery. They were founded from the ashes of a defunct producer, as ex-Brakspear head brewer Peter Scholey left and managed to start up another company in his own right. He named the new operation Ridgeway, after the ancient upland pathway that meanders along the South Downs, first trod by the Druids. They contract brew, so Peter leases time from brewers with the capacity to spare, most commonly Sussex’s Hepworth. They export a lot of their beers to North America, and revel in the use of elf puns, increasing in strength from Bad Elf through Very Bad Elf, to Insanely Bad Elf. We featured Bad Elf on last year’s Christmas Special podcast.

What’s In a Name? – Criminally Bad Elf
It turned out to be a case of mistaken identity, of course – wrong place at the wrong time…but Claus was soon back on the street with the polite apologies of the authorities – no questions asked. All’s well that ends well, surely, but still, the reporters wanted to know…it takes its toll, doesnt’t it? “Indeed” sighed Claus, “my elf is going crazy, and I fear I shall soon go crazy as well” And with that he hoisted a great flagon of his favorite barleywine-style ale, silently contemplating the future and straining to remember why he got into this particular line of work in the first place. [Official Website]

What We Say
Shovels – Not quite criminally bad, but bad enough
Grooben – Unpleasant aftertaste is not sitting right with me at all 3
Richard – Thick, syrupy, medicinal barleywine kick 3
Stu – Tastes like cough syrup and Special Brew, It’s not good and I’m not enjoying it 2

5. Kernel IPA S.C.A.NS.
The Kernel Brewery, Bermondsey, London.
330ml glass bottle

Two podcasts ago we featured London’s Kernel Brewery in a Kernel Showcase, after paying a visit to Evin O’Riordain’s Bermondsey brewery. If Marble were one to watch for 2010, Kernel are undoubtedly one to watch for 2011 – their mix of traditional recipes and strong abv’s without doubt appeal to craft beer fans everywhere. When you consider that Evin does everything himself – even hand-stamping each label – it’s a remarkable operation. In ordering some Kernel IPA C.S.C. (7.1%) for our upcoming Beer of the Year show, Evin told me his newest IPA – called S.C.A.NS. was even better. Clearly, we had to get some to find out…

What’s In a Name? – S.C.A.NS.
Evin names his IPA’s after the hops that he adds to them – his IPA C.S.C. contains Centennial, Simcoe and Chinook for example. It makes a good quiz for hop fans (play along at home) – S.C.A.NS. contains Simcoe, Chinook, Apollo, and Nelson Sauvin.

What They Say
“One of the finest Double IPA’s on the market from the up and coming Kernel Brewery. Drawing “wow” from brewers and beer lovers from afar, even hop-head Californian brewers. I can’t express how impressive this beer is. Hopped with Apollo, Simcoe, Chinook and Nelson Sauvin for a good hit of fruit over a refined malt body.” []

What We Say
Richard – More bitter punchiness than CSC, there’s a bit more malty sweetness
Shovels – How good a smell is that? Not as citrusy as the Dobber 7
Stu – One of the best beers I’ve ever smelled, this would make a great Glade plug-in
Grooben – I think I preferred CSC, this one may be too far for my personal taste as it’s slightly too bitter 6

– (clockwise from top left) Richard, Shovels, Stuart, Grooben

BeerCast panel verdict
Samuel Smith’s Yorkshire Stingo 29/40
Kernel India Pale Ale S.C.A.NS. 27/40
Marble Dobber 25/40
IBS Old Slap and Tickle 14/40
Ridgeway Criminally Bad Elf 12½/40

  • Listen to the episode here: BeerCast #54 – What’s in a name?
  • Subscribe to the podcasts in iTunes or our Site Feed
  • Thanks to Jeff Pickthall at Pump Clip Parade for the photos of wacky beer names and pump clips. You can also visit Jeff’s regular beer blog – It’s Just the Beer Talking

    Please keep those comments and emails coming in, and check back next week for our fourth annual Christmas Special – half a dozen festive warmers for our panel to enjoy, before the excitement of our 2010 Beer of the Year Show in January. Will any of the Christmas beers make a late surge into the final four? Stay tuned…

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