Brewing with Northern Alchemy

Guest blog written by Andrew Mitchell

When I was nineteen and still living at home with my parents, my friend Dean and I spent an evening drinking bourbon.

Over the course of one night, half a bottle of Maker’s Mark and a full bottle of Jack Daniels were heroically polished off after a skinful of lagers. The resultant hangover was one of the most punishing I have ever endured; a jackhammer headache, all over body sweats and a bout of nausea that robbed me of all pigmentation in my skin. What’s more memorable about this was the following morning… when I had to sit the first exam of university life.

I wore sunglasses in the examination hall like a prize dickhead and had to excuse myself to fitfully vomit. I was, it’s safe to say, a wreck. This marked several more times that I have piled the booze away ahead of having something really important to do the next day. Ten pints of Old Rosie cider the night before moving house and awaiting delivery of a kitchen was particular high point. Brewing the Tryanuary collab with Northern Alchemy, another.

“We’ll just take it easy and get away early.”

“Just a couple more and we’ll get ourselves home”

Just two of the lies I spouted to Andy - the gentleman behind the Tryanuary campaign - as we piled away the pints around Newcastle. Andy had the Northern Alchemy brewday planned for a while and I, like the boozy reprobate I am, had decided to tag along. We ended the night in Brewdog and met my partner Emma who had also been out on the lash for her work’s Christmas do. It’s safe to stay I was in a far, far worse state. So we got a taxi home. To drink a bottle of gin. Classic move.

Mr Mitchell had felt better.

Mr Mitchell had felt better.

Dirty, dirty food.

Dirty, dirty food.

We made it to the brewery bang on time; un-showered, shivering and clutching Gregg’s bacon sandwiches. Head brewer Andy Aitchison was also feel slightly under the beer weather. This brewday boded well.

Normally I would write up the brew day, referring to my notes, explaining the beer the style, the decisions behind the chosen beer being brewed; peppering my prose with witticisms and daft alliterative phrases. To quote Chief Clancy Wiggum in the classic Simpsons episode I Love Lisa. “Not tonight.’

I remember standing, and rubbing my temples. Someone wrote “Stupid Boys” on a white board. I drank coffee. And left to buy a filthy KFC meal. Andy from Northern Alchemy, however, battled on like a trooper, creating the delicious Lavender Black Berliner Weisse. The soporific nature of the lavender once added to the mashtun went to work on my senses like an airborne roofy.

There was some time lapse of the brewday filmed I believe. I’m keen to see how little I do. I’m guessing it’s next to nowt. However, when I got to taste the beer a couple of weeks later, the floral lavender bouncing off the subtle sourness of the base, I decided that it was my ruined presence that made this beer the marvel it is.

Mike Hampshire