As the evenings grew longer and the bony fingers of the surrounding trees grasped in vain to hold on to the last, sad remnants of their once green finery, much activity has occurred in our little village, especially at our local pub.
Based upon a recipe Bernie found taped to the bottom of an old barrel in the cellar, the Witches Brew has been a staple of our festivities, but each year, a new variation is created for a particular event. This year, it is Christmas’ turn to inspire our brewers, and last night they introduced ‘After Mirth’ to an eager throng of revellers at the start of our seasonal festivities.
Once the beacon had been lit and prayers and thoughts offered to absent friends, (led by Ellis Clacker who gave a marvellous speech at the start of the festivities) those with small children or weak constitutions made their way back to their homes and the rest headed to The Teat to get their hands on a bottle of the new brew, which Madge and Bernie had been distributing sample ‘shots’ of earlier on.
When asked about the inspiration behind the brew, Anmer told me that there “was an intention to capture something of Christmases long gone; a nostalgic brew that conjured images of mistletoe and holly in candlelight, rather than gaudy plastic baubles and electric lights that are today’s decorations. The familiar sensations of the local countryside with deep aromas of barley, damp straw and distant ordure on the breeze, laced with an exciting touch of long travelled precious spices and the ever present metallic tang of ground lichen.”
Locals were eager to experience the latest brew (something that is widely anticipated around here!) and it appears that first impressions are reassuringly good. Bernard Drudge (of close harmony outfit barbershop The Thermostat Four, no less!) was ready to give his highly regarded (and sometimes controversial) opinion: “This is clearly a superior beer, full flavoured and with that extra punch one expects from a Witches Brew, this could very well be a classic. Time will tell.”
Brian ‘Foxy’ Mulgrew (who did a stirling job of playing Santa again this year) unfortunately was too incoherent to understand but was very impressed judging by the regularity of his trips to the bar! There were toasts raised to Malcolm Bannerman, the undisputed star of this years Cricketball season, and a rather sarcastic (but good humoured) one raised to the Soddenham Archeologists and Sucrologists, for their extraordinary reporting of the Soddenham Barrow during the autumn.
There were many others celebrating at The Teat and a splendid time was had by all. Another local character, Unwin S. Schrieber made some comparisons of the new brew to that of another well remembered favourite: “After Mirth has all the rich characteristics that the connoisseur has come to expect from the Witches Brew team, and has some subtle similarities with Polly’s Pottage that was last made in 1992. The straw… there is a dampness to the straw that reflects this years weather during the harvest – I can’t say for certain, but I believe that this years weather is very similar to that of ’92, although I will have to check that in Reeve’s Almanac in the morning.”
Of course, the regular Witches Brew is always available by the bottle and on tap during the festive season… why not come and join us?