Introducing our new beer columnists from the House of Trembling Madness
1:44pm Saturday 14th September 2013 in Beer of the week
New beer columnists Rob McLeod, left, Michael Bates and Ian Loftus at the House of Trembling Madness
WELCOME to the House of Trembling Madness. And no, we’re not talking about a newly discovered Sherlock Holmes short story. We’re talking about the York pub/beer shop on Stonegate.
The place takes its name from the medieval term often used for an inn, says owner Ian Loftus. The Latin term delirium tremens, from which we get the DTs, actually means exactly the same thing.
The medieval folk of York were very fond of their beer, or ale, Ian says – even more so than we are today, if you can believe that. “The water supply back then was so bad, everybody drank ale.”
Ian and his team of beer experts at Trembling Madness are doing their best to ensure we all rediscover the joys of great beer.
The Stonegate pub was joint winner of the Pub of the Year accolade in the 2011 York Tourism Awards. And the store and off-licence below it now stocks at least 600 different beers at any one time, along with a range of ‘beer cheeses’. Most of the beers are from different parts of the UK. But there are plenty from overseas too – particularly Belgium, because Ian admits to an especial fondness for Belgian beers.
All of which makes The House of Trembling Madness ideally placed to take over from Jim Helsby at the York Beer and Wine Shop as our regular Beer of the Week columnist.
As we reported last week, Jim has decided to take a well-earned rest after writing 500 columns for The Press over the past ten years. It was time for someone else to have a go, he said – though fortunately for beer connoisseurs, the Beer and Wine Shop will be remaining very much open.
Ian and his team from Trembling Madness – fellow beer experts Michael Bates and Rob Mcleod – were more than happy to try to fill Jim’s very large boots.
Ian, 43, says he is passionate about introducing people to beers they may not have tried. Yes, we all have our favourites, he says.
“But there is a huge diversity in beer and an ever increasing array of new craft breweries appearing. It’s always worth trying something different. You never know, you may find your next new favourite ale.”
The Trembling Madness team’s first column appears below – a classic Japanese Pale Ale that weighs in at a powerful seven per cent ABV.
• Hitachino Nest – Japanese Classic Ale - Seven per cent ABV, £3.60 per 33cl bottle (bottle conditioned)
Hitachino Nest is Kiuchi brewing’s brand of bottle conditioned ales, combining modern concepts with traditional techniques and recipes – an approach more in line with the likes of Thornbridge and Buxton than the Brewdog school of craft breweries.
Their Japanese Classic Ale is an India Pale Ale brewed to a recipe from the Edo-Period using predominantly British hops (Goldings and Fuggles), and then aged in cedar casks. The result is a smooth, rounded beer, worlds away from the newer American style of hop-forward India Pale Ales.
Pouring a rich copper, topped off with a loose, billowing white head, this is an attractive beer indeed. The aroma is dominated by a strong wheat and cereal hit, much like a Vienna lager, which gives way to a very English black tea and bergamot hop aroma.
Medium-bodied and sweet, with flavours again reminiscent of breakfast cereal and golden syrup, before a fresh, sharp woody note cuts through and rounds things out. Some dry, herbal hop in the finish helps alleviate the sweetness of the beer, but remains subdued, allowing the alcohol to bring warmth to the end of the proceedings.
An excellent beer in its own right and all the more remarkable due to the balance between Japanese and British brewing traditions. If you like full-bodied, sweet ales, like alt-biers, boks, and barley wines, this should be at the top of your to-drink list.
Recommended by Michael Bates, Trembling Madness, 48 Stonegate, York, YO1 8AS @tremblingmad
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