A Beer and an Imbiber: East of the M60’s new real ale feature

The United Kingdom’s most unique contribution to the food and drink world is its multiplicity of cask conditioned and bottle conditioned ales. Real ale is enjoying a rise in popularity, but the amount of beer (crappy keg lagers and bitters included) supped in licensed premises has fallen. Therefore, the same crappy keg beers are – increasingly – drank at home thanks to nasties like the Beer Tax Escalator which favours superstore chains over pubs.

In most cases, drinking real ale requires effort. You may need to leave the house and visit a pub which sells cask conditioned. A sense of adventure is required as 95% of the time, no two ales taste the same. Then there’s the plethora of hop varieties, complex flavours, and in most cases, a lower price tag compared with keg lagers.

For our first ‘episode’ of Top Beer, we are focusing on Liverpool Organic Brewery’s Kitty Wilkinson.

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Kitty Wilkinson, Liverpool Organic Brewery:

  • Style: Speciality Stout;
  • Strength: 4.5% ABV;
  • Taste: chocolate and vanilla;
  • Nose: butterscotch;
  • Sweetness (1 most bitter, 5 most sweet): 5.

Liverpool Organic Brewery’s Kitty Wilkinson is one of a quartet of real ales and stouts based on local Liverpudlian heroes. Kitty Wilkinson saved a lot of Liverpudlians from a cholera epidemic in 1832, and became known as ‘The Saint of the Slums’. Her efforts led to opening the city’s first washhouse (where infected clothes would be washed). In 1842, she opened Liverpool’s first combined washhouse and public baths.

Given how drinking water in urban areas was somewhat undrinkable, working class households quenched their thirst with beer. It is also fitting to find a public health reformer immortalised in real ale form.

The hint of butterscotch on the nose gives the impression of a sweet stout, akin to the mild stouts (think of Sweetheart or Mackesons stouts). On first sip, your tastebuds are assaulted by the chocolate and vanilla essence. Thankfully, the chocolate isn’t sickly sweet like a Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Instead it is a subtle taste akin to plain chocolate. If you warmed it up (not recommended by the way), it could pass off as cocoa, or a Costabucks’ Mocha.

Owing to the chocolate taste, I would only recommend having half a pint or a full pint. Over a session, the taste can be too cloying, so one pint or half between trains or buses is a better move.

Kitty Wilkinson Stout is best enjoyed on a winter afternoon, possibly with a roaring real fire. After a hard day at work, it is a good ale for unwinding to.

S.V., 09 February 2013.

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