“Scrooge was ready to settle in for Christmas Eve. Newly imported naughty parchments, a ceramic pot of Mrs Arbuthnott’s Self-Enhancement Embrocation and a case of Throxheards Old Unobtainable. So why the Dickens was there a ghost at the end of his bed?”
It’s early December 2011, and I’m hosting The Session, something I should really get around to doing again. My Theme? Well, Christmas of course, it was December after all.
A post is published from Simon (Scoop) Johnson… “Scrooged: or A Cautionary Tale Of How Beer Got Fecked”. It made me laugh so much, it’s still possibly my favourite blog post ever, and it’s always something I go back to read and share as Christmas approaches.
Click the link and read it for yourself, tell me you are not smiling by the third paragraph.
“Throxheards Old Unobtainable”.
Ever since that day, and long before I’d even dreamed of opening Otter’s Tears, I’d often had thoughts of making that beer a reality. So, around a year or so ago, I pitched the idea to my good friend Andy Parker of Elusive Brewing, we talked about it and then, as things do, it got lost in busy lives. Then a few months ago, it came up again in conversation and this time we set a brew date in the diary: Sunday 6th August 2017.
My original idea has always been to brew a small batch high strength beer, something like an Imperial Stout, Old Ale or Barley Wine. An annual release, bottles only, something that would age well and be brewed in very low numbers. Something sought out, but often not attained. Basically in line with my interpretation of the beer name.
After a week or so, Andy messaged me and said, “Phil, just had a thought regarding Throxheards. How about we launch it at Indyman? I’ve such fond memories of him dressed as a clown there, such great times. It just feels right to have it on at IMBC”. I have to admit, this threw me completely. But then I thought, yeah, it does feel right. It was then it started to snowball.. #nopunintended
AP “We’d really need to nail it for IMBC though. That said, we’d have some great brewers to call upon for advice”
He wasn’t wrong…. Before I knew it we had Stuart Ross of Magic Rock, Dominic Driscoll of Thornbridge, James Farran of Summer Wine and Colin Stronge of Buxton, all friends of Simon, all keen to be involved in some way, all having very fond memories of him and wanting to bring this to life as a lasting legacy to a great guy. Between them a recipe was finalised, an old school Barley Wine, with various tweaks and flavour profiles being proposed. Sadly though, due to late notice, none of the four collaborators could make it physically to the brew day itself. Look out for a post on the brew day soon. But fear not, as that’s not the end of the story..
“He threw the parchments on the fire, fetched up a bottle of Throxheards Vintage Christmas Special from the cellar and threw open the front door. Maybe he should make a steaming bowl of Smoking Bishop and offer it to the waifs in the street?”
Throxheards Vintage Christmas Special, that gives us another opportunity. With a good proportion of the first batch going into a keg, we lose 3-4 cases of an already limited bottle release. So if all goes to plan, the thought is to brew another version or at least an enhanced edition for Christmas, potentially opening this up for further collaborative involvement, plus of course more bottles.
There are lots more plans afoot too, details to be confirmed and announced soon, but for now, this is where we are today:
- Throxheards Old Unobtainable is at present working its magic down at Elusive under the watchful eye of Andy Parker, tasting great I’m told
- One keg is destined for Indyman, exactly when to be confirmed
- Approximately 3 cases of bottles, news on how to get one of those soon
- All profits going to Rebecca Johnson’s nominated charity “British Heart Foundation” in Scoops memory via #RIPScoop
For now, a massive thanks to Andy for helping me make this happen; to Colin, Stuart, James and Dominic for embracing the idea and giving their input on the recipe; to the guys at Indyman; and those who helped me brew it: Chris, Rach and Jane.
Has anyone got a recipe for Mrs Arbuthnott’s Self-Enhancement Embrocation?