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Mad Hatter Brewing, Nightmare on Bold St

Sometimes you don’t need a lot to make a fresh start. Like Gaz Matthews and Sue Starling who started Mad Hatter Brewery in 2013 with a loan for just a grand in their back pockets. Turning their backs on a reflective academic life they’ve subsequently established themselves at the forefront of Liverpool’s craft beer scene.

Within a year they outgrew their first location in Toxteth and moved to a bigger place in the super hip Baltic Triangle area of the city. The connection to the city is strong with (in)famous places in Liverpool figuring in the beer names. Penny Lane Pale Ale came about after a chat with the manager of the Londis off licence on Penny Lane. They’re now a stockist for the beer.

It’s surprising then that Gaz is not actually a ‘scouser’. Nor is Sue (although she is from the Wirral). In fact they located to Liverpool via stints in academia at Nottingham and Lancashire Universities and a brief spell in Bridlington where they turned Gaz’s parent’s garage into a brewery in order to supply beer at a Christmas market. Whilst Gaz was most candid in his response to our “Why Liverpool?” question, we are sworn to secrecy on the matter (it involves something to do with his mother-in-law).

The Lewis Carroll references exist beyond the Mad Hatter name. The topsy turvy world can be found in the beer names (Down the Rabbit Hole Belgium Red anyone?) and beer styles. They’ve a reputation for making ‘challenging’ beers like A Night Out (a papaya, peach, coconut & chilli IPA) or their Tzatziki Sour which is exactly what it says on the bottle. Then there’s there’s references to some pretty complex philosophical discourse such as The Void and the Event which takes the form of a Barley Wine aged in wine barrels. This is what happens when you’ve spent a LOT of time studying the work of Alain Badiou. It ends up in your beer.

This week’s beer, Nightmare on Bold Street, is a milk stout cold-infused with coffee beans. The recipe is inspired by the good people at Bold Street Coffee in Liverpool’s indie shopping area. Gaz blames the horror film reference on Jonny Woodcock, the Mad Hatter sales manager and resident film geek. But hey, it is almost Halloween.

This is a really creamy beer with the added lactose and oats providing a rich mouthfeel. The malt list is an eye watering blend giving the beer its depth and chocolate taste. Then there’s the coffee from the fine folks at Has Bean in Staffordshire. We like to say “when you can’t drink beer, drink coffee” here at BeerBods. Well, here you can drink both at the same time.

Oh, and if you want the slightly crazier double version of Nightmare on Bold St, Gaz tells us that there’s a batch of it in the fermenter right now. You’ve been warned.

You can buy a Mad Hatter Brewing mixed case here.

Mad Hatter are also on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.