Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Bewitched by Wychwood

On Sunday we finally made it out to the Wychood Brewey in Witney (home of Hobgoblin and Brakspear ales) for a tour and tasting as a belated Christmas present for my husband (and a slight treat for me too perhaps!) I love going on these kinds of tours, after all the wandering around looking at barrels and pulping systems you are rewarded with several tiny glasses of beer for tasting. These are doubly brilliant as being small you can hold them in your hand and pretend you are giant drinking a regular sized pint and also, goodness me, they do add up. Before you know it you're staggering into the gift shop ordering several crates to take home. Hmm, I’m sure there is a marketing ploy in there somewhere!!

Some take home goodness!
Our guide was fantastic and held true to the slogan ‘What’s the matter Lagerboy? Afraid you’ll taste something?’ with his great enthusiasm for everything ale. I’m a relatively recent convert to the ale cause but Wychwood is the best kind of company to encourage you to switch from the big business breweries. The beers are so tasty and the ingredients local. By products from the brewing process are used as animal feed by local farmers which then go into sausages containing Wychwood Cider made by a local butcher. Brakspear, which used to be produced in Henley, was founded by a Witney resident and was a major factor in Wychwood bidding to acquire the beers, including the legendary (in my books at least!) Oxford Gold. Brakspear has come home!

Trying the malts was also a great way to understand more about the flavours in the ales (you really can taste it once you’ve chewed on the raw ingredients!) and for helping me to become an insufferable bore in company by talking about the ratio of chocolate to black malt. In the end we settled on a case of King Goblin which is only brewed on a full moon and is a great amber coloured, flavourful ale. We cracked a couple open last night in front of a chick flick (don’t want to become too masculine now) and it tasted even better the second tasting around. The one slightly disturbing thing was realising on our way home that it was full moon that night! The mysterious powers of Wychood, I entreat you to go there…. or else (cue witchy cackling)

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