During the set-up of A Hoppy Place, I was getting fairly regular email shots and calls from local breweries offering samples, trying to get their beer on the shelves in Windsor.
For many of our breweries, what with the PubCo tie-ins meaning it’s basically impossible to sell their beer, even in their hometown in a lot of cases, without going via incredibly expensive beer list options or, more often, just, at all: We offer a new and if I might dare be so bold, quite exciting opportunity.
So after a while, I got quite used to the routine… I’d feign interest, be polite, and do nothing about it. This was never anything personal, it was just that – at the time our shop was a bomb-site with no floor, no cellar, no internet, and frankly, we had bigger fish to fry before worrying about opening stock.
That is until one day, when a rep from a Brewery I later found out to be operating out of a converted summerhouse in their back garden, phoned me out of the blue and asked if I was opening a bar in Windsor. This was a call I paid attention to…
First things first, Larissa, though German, has what to me at least seemed a pretty distinctive American accent…
Which goes to say, my first ever words to the brilliant people at The Mad Yank, beyond “Hello Dave speaking”, was “Uhm, you do realise we’re in the UK right, not Connecticut?
Of course yes, they did. How we’d gotten onto the Mad Yank radar I don’t rightly know, and even then: We nearly got off on some really terrible footing! Larissa suggested she wouldn’t bring the dark beers because it was the middle of Summer…
“Do you know who I am ?!?” My internal monologue near seethed back…
The external me politely, but utterly sincerely, suggested that if the dark beers didn’t arrive, there was little point the brewery arriving at all.
To separate me from the opportunity to taste new and interesting dark beer, is to risk permanent and irreparable upset. If I could rename “A Hoppy Place” to “Dave’s Stoutland of only Stouts” I’d do it. Try and stop me. I am after all the guy that travelled 500 miles over a weekend when on a work trip, to get to a blind Stout tasting event in a warehouse in North Carolina.
Well anyway, we got past it. Boy did we get past it.
What followed was the best “sample day” I’ve had to date. When Larissa arrived, slightly green from trying to write emails from the back of her over-exuberant Uber journey from North West London, it only took me about 30 seconds to realising the bicycle I’d travelled from Maidenhead to Windsor on that morning was going to be left at the shop…
The sampling started in earnest.
Grant, husband of Larissa and head brewer The Mad Yank himself if you will, arrived soon after, and we started things off by sampling a low alcohol beer, lively, but with a good medium sweet malt body providing thickness to beers rarely seen below 4%. Presently out of production, this is a beer that when it makes it’s way back into the brewing schedule I’ll definitely get some cases of.
We then tried Sunshine State, their white IPA, as well as a dark golden Wheatbeer that lives long in the memory, Sunset Cliffs. These were great and we’ve since stocked both. But whilst I’m being really unfair in not naming them all: I need to get to the point. I knew that my destiny with multiple brand new to me Stouts was calling.
The Story now is of in particular Monaco, a beer brewed for a wedding couple, a couple whom apparently got engaged in Monaco. A brilliant homage to the happy couple and what better way to celebrate a wedding than with your own especially commissioned beer. Monaco, a 7.3% stout that Naomi dubbed a “little impy”, is packed with Oats, Lactose, dark Belgian candi sugar, and a fairly complex grain bill, which all coming together to add fabulous heavy body, head retention, toasty chocolate and rum, raisins and marshmallows to a creamy sweet and delicious dessert stout.
It is definitely the most remarkable new dark beer I’ve tasted this year.
I know there were other beers that day, but sampling about 2 litres of beer, and finishing on something so demanding of remembrance, the rest of the day is a haze by comparison.
Several emails and a couple of phone calls later, we’d agreed Monaco would squeeze it’s way into our taproom for launch. We’ve since peddled all remaining Monaco stock. In a way it’s my wedding beer now, Dave. We were also so confident in Mad Yank that we offered them our first fixed line on the tap wall. This in turn was equally the first time Mad Yank have ever tied a line anywhere, and I’m genuinely delighted to be in with these guys so early. There is true scope for them to be a very special brewery. It’s literally only about sales and marketing right now, the product is absolutely superb.
But on that first tasting, as I said, I went from being 100% sure I was going to cycle home, to getting a taxi, a take-away, and falling asleep by 9pm. However, one thing Naomi magicked up between the haze of extended dark beer tasting was to suggest a future adjunct for the beer… “Wouldn’t it be interesting to try Monaco with toasted coconuts? “.
There was a vague nod of agreement. One that could be taken as either legitimate acceptance of a good idea, or polite ‘let them think their idea isn’t totally awful’ from brewers who probably get these suggestions all the time, most of them terrible. To be honest it could have been misinterpretation of a drunken lolling of the head, given how the afternoon had unfolded.
But about 3 months from that tasting, now with A Hoppy Place a bona fide actual beer bar, about a month ago as I write this today, I got a phone call from Larissa. “When are we brewing your collaboration?”. We didn’t expect this, but… Excellent! The answer was “how about next Monday?”. So like the 5 red lights at Monaco we were off… I’m not good at metaphors…
In a mirror of our first meeting with The Mad Yanks, this time it was Naomi and I’s turn to arrive in an Uber, feeling slightly ill. But arrive we did, and so we got to checking out the brewhouse.
To go into more detail on the team we’re dealing with here, The American part of the Mad Yank collective is Grant, ex US military – something terribly technical sounding – and a fastidious brewer who – like most engineer-cum-brewers, can make things.
And what The Mad Yank brewery has made is a fantastic little setup. A brewery with 5 fermenter vessels packed alongside a traditional 3 vessel brewhouse, but with some very efficient additions such as counterflow heat exchangers to warm the hot liquor tank whilst cooling the post boil wort. This is important because at present they need to do 2 brews to fill an FV when brewing higher gravity… If Mad Yank keeps on going this way they really will have to expand, and indeed, there are rumours that they’re trying to secure a site. I am really excited to see this progress.
Between waiting for our strike water to reach temperature and eating a whole bunch of meat and cheese (and in my case popping some more codeine tablets because obviously, a brewday means I throw my back out the night before, fail to sleep, just about manage to get dressed, and generally feel miserable), we came to discuss the name for our collab…
Discussions digressed quickly to the wonderful “We didn’t get fucking Engaged in Monaco”. Because it turned out, that wedding couple? They deny all knowledge of that conversation. They just like Monaco as a place. I can’t recall if they’ve even been there. So Monaco, it’s a phony!
We also danced around trying to strongarm Formula 1 references in, and recalling a recent Cloudwater brew with a Horsey name, as well as never being particularly far from a Monty Python reference at Mad Yank HQ (an excellent thing!), came my first suggestion:
High G-Force Horse.
But we did want more… Think Monty Python, think Patsy clopping his coconuts along to King Arthur, the Black Knight blocking the path to the Holy Grail. The possibilities were literally… ended, unfortunately. We couldn’t come up with anything even remotely sensible.
So in the end, it was a week or two after the collab, that whilst discussing to what degree a recent transatlantic collaborative box set did or didn’t look like a cock and balls when turned on it’s side, that we finally settled on the name.
Our stout is going to be BIG. Like, 15% kind of big. And it’s got adjuncts. Including coconut. Some may not enjoy this, some, may be offended by it.
And whilst we’re sorry to offer this-time rejections to “I didn’t choose the coconuts, the coconuts chose me”, and “Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?”, this is the name we have gone for this time.
We are incredibly proud to announce the launch of “Your Coconuts Offend Me”.
Your Coconuts Offend Me launches as part of a Co-Co-Colab with the fantastic Fishers Brewery who have also collaborated with our Mad Yanks. The beers will be pouring as part of ‘Black Wednesday’ at A Hoppy Place on the 27th November.
Thank you so much to the Mad Yank for giving us the opportunity to brew with them. Drink responsibly, because this might all get a bit silly.
Dave, Naomi and the Mad Yanks.