Weird Beard, Howling Hops and Mother Kelly’s

mother kellys, howling hops, weird beard

Wait a second. Hold up, Yoda. Mother Kelly’s? This is new. I’m up and down Church Street three or four times a week, and today, there’s an exciting-looking new addition. I head over to the door and peer in. I make eye contact with the bearded, bespectacled, flannel-wearing dude at the counter. “Are dogs allowed?” I ask, not expecting much. “Sure thing. No problem.” Yoda, we’re in buddy. Don’t fuck this up.

The place is awesome. The natural fulfilment of the craft beer phenomenon, as far as Church Street, Stoke Newington, Yoda and I are concerned. I take in the neat, well-laid-out collection of fine brews. Mother Kelly’s is a combination of bare, derelicte simplicity and hipster style. There’s even a walk in cold room, like a chilled, beer-filled humidor.

Of course, Yoda jumps – or rather – lies down at the opportunity, cooling himself on the cold, concrete floor like a spatchcock chicken, while I take in my surroundings. Yoda, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

After perusing the Belgian section, my eyes are drawn to the store’s Weird Beard offerings. A buddy recently raved about the west London brewery, and so far, I’ve only ever found its stout beers. But Mother Kelly’s has the Mariana Trench transpacific pale ale (5.3%) and the mighty Five O’Clock Shadow American IPA (7%). I throw in an old favourite, a Howling Hops West Coast Special IPA (6.9%), and head to the checkout. After I’ve convinced Yoda to get up and return to room temperature.

Back home I start with the Mariana Trench. It’s a sweet, fruity little number. A perfect first beer of the day. The transpacific element is its combination of New Zealand Pacific Gem and U.S. Citra hops, which go down easy with hints of mango and passion fruit on a sweet, malty backbone.

I decide to break up my Weird Beard intake with the Howling Hops West Coast IPA, which tastes as crisp and refreshing as always. It’s citrusy and uncomplicated, a perfect combination of sweet, tropical fruitiness and that complimentary, lingering bitter aftertaste that keeps you coming back for more.

Finally, the main course: the Five O’Clock Shadow. And straight away the dark brew lives up to expectations, delivering a strong, hop-bursting jolt that puts hair on my hairs. It’s a powerful, bitter, citrus-packed uppercut on a classic, malty American IPA frame. I sip it slowly, wishing I’d bought two (or three). “Cowboy, baby…”

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