Mad Hatter@PSBH

Monday evening saw the usual suspects gathered for a meet the brewer with Mad Hatter’s Gareth Mathews. Gareth or Mad Gaz as his wife, Sue, affectionately knows him as, is the man behind Liverpool’s most experimental brewery. Technically it’s a Toxteth nanobrewery running off batches of 400 litres but, as Gaz explained, the small size makes it easier to produce a wide variety of new beers. As if to prove the point and a first for MTB@PSBH, all the beers on the night were new brews.
After an interesting introduction on how he came to be brewing: all to do with his brother having an illicit bar in his bedroom and getting bored with academia, it was onto the beer. The name of the brewery is pretty self-explanatory and yes, does tie in with Alice in Wonderland. Their distinctive artwork is done by Emily Warren who also produced the impressive papier mâché pumpclips for the bar. Another interesting aspect of the brewery is that Gaz doesn’t really believe in brewing anything under 6.5%. Now he tells us!
Raspberry and Basil Wit

Started sweet but then quickly dried out to a tart, quite refreshing finish. This didn’t taste 6.5% and made for an atypical continental summer drink. The only real complaint about this was the lack of Basil in the finished taste. Gaz agreed with this critique even though he revealed he had put a whole Basil plant into the brew. The unpredictability of brewing, eh?

Sour Saison
The aim here for this 7% was to create a more balanced Saison and in that respect it succeeded. It really wasn’t that sour and caramel malt came through which, together with the lack of spice, meant that it really couldn’t be called a Saison. Again Gaz agreed with this observation but, as befits a man who likes to play around with the style book, revealed that he had put 200g of Mosaic hops into just a five gallon batch of this.
Galaxy IPA

This was a single hop 7.2% IPA that I think it’s fair to say was the least popular of the night. Galaxy is a great hop but needs diligent use. Here its characteristics were swamped, leaving no backbone and one-dimensional astringency. An odd beer that was fermented with a Brown Ale yeast starter which probably explains the toasty caramel flavours. No wonder Gaz said he wouldn’t be trying that again.
Next came heaven for this beerhound. A cheese break. Some excellent samples from the Liverpool Cheese Company comprising Crumbly Lancashire, Manchego and Cheshire Blue. Yummy, yummy.

American Psycho
This 7% offering was an attempt to recreate an American Brown Ale. Of course, over here brown ales are considered rather dull and passé, whilst in the USA they are a highly regarded style. Gaz is a big fan of these beers as he considers that they have the perfect combination of flavours. This was a belter: a perfect brown colour with a tight white head and dark chocolate and pine in the nose. A beautifully balanced beer that started with rich chocolate and toasted nut flavours before the resinous hops washed it away to a grand bitter finish. He’d nailed this one spot on.

REDRUM on Port St
As in the racehorse, naturally. This 7% red ale was a collaboration with PSBH and was intended as a more hop-forward version of the original REDRUM. To that end, Chinook was added to the boil and in the dry-hop, with Amarillo thrown in to give it a powerful aroma. However, these seemed to cancel each other out somewhat in the glass with it having more of a dark fruit edge than you’d expect. An interesting and perhaps appropriate end to an evening of challenged perceptions.

So thanks to Gaz & Sue and all the PSBH gang. All the beers may not have been crowd pleasers but they were certainly interesting. So next time you see Mad Hatter, why not dive in and try them for yourself..


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