Happy Friday everyone! We’re a week into the 13 Beers of Halloween and so far it’s been a fairly delicious ride, yesterday’s speed bump notwithstanding. Fortunately, we have no time to look back and contemplate on what might have been. Instead, we push forward into dark and shadowy territory. Tonight, that territory is filled with cackling, huge warty noses, and newt eyes, as we revisit Wychwood breweries and take their Wychcraft Blonde Ale for a spin. This is another new one for me, but if it’s anything like other Wychwood brews, we should be in for a treat. So let’s go get our Hansel and Gretel on, and find ourselves a witch.
The initial aroma resembles a pilsner, but slowly fades into a light, citrusy cloud of mild hops and drizzled honey. Then, like a fog parting over a forest clearing, a full-bodied bread maltiness appears, supporting faint hints of plums and sweet cherries. It’s a wonderful aroma – mouth watering and rich in both savory malts and honey-dipped fruits. Quite cozy for something bearing the name “Wychcraft”.
Actually, deception is a favorite tactic of black witches. It’s that deception that has led me here today. What do I mean? One year ago, a small town in northern Montana was the site of a darkness so pervasive, the town has since disappeared. On a small farm, just outside the township limits, lived a sweet, little old lady. She was the nicest of women – baking cookies, knitting sweaters, pinching cheeks – you know the type. She also loved Halloween. Every year, she would throw a costume party for the neighborhood children. It was a small town, she was a nice old lady, no questions were asked or hesitations offered. Anyway, at the stroke of midnight, a blood curdling shriek was heard, and a green glow was seen bursting through the windows of the house. When police finally arrived to investigate, they found the old woman, seated in a circle of 30 pairs of children’s shoes, chewing on a leg. Only one cop made it out, but he managed to describe what he saw before he went insane and jumped off a bridge. He recalled that her skin was green and leathery, and her mouth had elongated into a short muzzle, with three rows of fang-like teeth. Her fingers had been long and spindly, each one ending in a black claw. He went on to say how she tore through the other cops, and would have killed him as well if he hadn’t gotten off a lucky shot that happened to hit her through the left eye. She didn’t die of course (it takes a bit more than that to kill a witch), and vanished before anyone could subdue her. She may have thought she got away with it, but I’ve spent the past year tracking her, to this very town. And finally, tonight, she will pay, and hopefully those kids can be at peace.
Now, I bet you’re wondering who is this guy who shows up out of nowhere and starts going on about witches and murders? Well, I’m the grey between life’s black and white. I’m the movement at the corner of your eye, punishing what it was you thought you saw. I’m the reason why monsters hide under the bed. The name’s Grimm, Marcus Grimm, freelance Shadow Walker.
Whoa…Alright, that took off into something crazy. I’ll get back to the review, before this thing spirals out of control. Taking a drink, the taste is just as pleasant as the aroma. The pilsner-ish tang starts out on the front of the tongue before morphing into a rich base of honeyed malts, mild fruits, and a citrusy hop edge at the back end. It has a sweet profile, but it’s an earthy sweetness that accentuates the bread. The flavors start and stay mild, without any loud spice noise, or odd flavors, or anything that tries to “push the limit”. It’s just a tasty beer flavor, with an aftertaste of bread and honey that stays mild and delicious for a long time.
A long time…That describes my life. I don’t really remember the early years. I’ve been hunting evil for so long, all the good times – the normal years – just faded away. Bah, empty thinking. I have a job to do.
I load up my gear – crossbow, gold shafts with blessed tips, stag hide vest, black steel wrist blades, jet-black Hadrubaal Monk head band, and a pack of unfiltered Banes.
What, after 500 years of killing evil, of course I have some vices. Sue me.
There I go again. It’s the beer. Apparently it’s acting like my muse tonight. Better just roll with it, eh? Anyway, once poured into a pint glass, the aroma of this beer is super mellow and wonderfully pleasant. Subtle hints of butterscotch mingle with bread malts and mild hops. Some honeyed plums and cherries make it to the top as well, creating a sweet yet rich bouquet of aromas. Like the taste, it isn’t too complex, remaining true to a handful of ingredients, and doing so in a spectacular fashion. It pours a beautiful clear gold under a thick, clingy white head.
A beer sounds nice right about now. It’s been a while since my last brew. Usually it’s either red wine or Blood Moon Whiskey. Don’t ask me where that stuff is from. I’d have to betray the trust of a werewolf if I told you, and that’s a problem I don’t feel like having. Maybe I’ll treat myself later. Find a quiet little deli. Order a thick, rare steak, and reminisce over my life with one of those beers. Hah! Me, treating myself, like a normal guy.
I kick down the door, my booming laugh filling the dank hallway, sending clouds of dust swirling through the air. It smells of mothballs and old meat in here. Definitely the right place. I head down the hall, pulling a cig from my pocket and holding it between my lips. I don’t light it. Not yet at least. I stop and unsling the crossbow, nocking a shaft in place and locking it back in full draw. A witch will typically sleep during the day, somewhere dark and quiet, but I always leave room for surprises. I hate surprises.
Moving forward again, I find the stairs that lead down to the basement and take a step into the darkened doorway. I pull a match from the front of my vest and strike it against the wall, bringing the flame to the tip of my cig before pinching the match out between my fingers. I take a slow drag as I creep down the stairs, smiling as the blue-black smoke slithers down into my chest. Don’t ask where I get these either. No werewolf this time, but the guy I buy them from is highly paranoid, and I don’t want to lose my supply.
I exhale through my nose, pulling a clear glass bottle from another pocket of the vest. There’s a red and gold fleur de lis on the front, and some flaking black paint that reads feu noir. I just call it Demon piss. Strong enough to burn through the front of your chest before you even feel a buzz. I bite down on the stopper and spit it to the side, taking a quick pull from the bottle. It’s like drinking liquid razor blades, and the pumice smoke from the Bane isn’t helping any. I grimace, spit, and stuff a wad of cotton into the bottle, taking another long drag on the cigarette before holding the cotton against the glowing tip. In an instant, a blood-red flame erupts from the top of the bottle. With a last puff of the Bane, I flip it to the side, take a step forward, and toss the bottle into the back corner of the basement.
The poured flavors are tastier on a new level. The sweet notes are pushed back a bit, allowing a savory bread and biscuit profile to dominate. Light fruits and honey are still present, as is the faintest of citrus hops, but the malts are king here. On the tongue, it feels full and creamy, covering every inch with full bodied heartiness. Again, there aren’t any special features, just wonderfully tasty beer that clings to the tongue and lasts forever. It’s super refreshing, and brings about a feeling of warmth that puts you into a great mood, regardless of how stressful or busy or difficult your day has been.
I knew she’d be in that corner. They always sleep facing the south west. And, now she’s burning for her predictability. I can hear her trying to get a spell off in between her screams. I bring the crossbow to my shoulder and pull the release, sending a golden shaft glinting through the air until it buries itself into her neck, turning her screams into rasping coughs. Like I said earlier, killing a witch isn’t an easy task. Well, unless you’re me. A long enough Black Steel blade will end her, but she’s a child killer, so I’ll let her suffer. I pull another Bane from the pack and walk up to her, holding the cig out and lighting it from one of the red flares of flame that leap off of her. Chuckling, I take a drag, standing back and watching with a bitter-sweet satisfaction. No matter how many I kill, there will always be more. I shouldn’t be complaining. It puts food on the table. Or at least booze and cigs. I take another long drag as she finally slumps to the ground, a wheezing silhouette against the glowing coals around her. I’m not one for theatrics, so I finish the cig, toss it over my shoulder and pull the blade from the strap on my wrist. In one motion, eight inches of steel have disappeared into her chest, driving in as easy as, well, a black steel blade through a witch’s chest. I take a step back as she begins to dissolve into an acid puddle of dirty brown, hissing as it hits the smoldering patches of carpet and wooden beams behind her. Another spot of evil gone. Another job done, another paycheck to collect. At least this one was clean. My last job was a Wendingo who liked to paint with body fluids. Took weeks to air out my jacket…
To put it bluntly, this beer was awesome. I mean, I’m not saying it has any magical properties, but I did write a short story just from drinking it. The perfect blend of malts, hops, honey and fruits, create a mouth watering, full bodied, tongue hugging ale of deliciousness. Supremely smooth and drinkable, the few ingredients work perfectly with one another, showing that quality doesn’t depend on quantity. You can drink it fast or slow – either way will be just as tasty. And, don’t worry about the price. With beer this nice, just buy it. You’ll thank me.
My suggestions are really any day, any time, and any place. Specifically, a lazy afternoon, watching movies with your friends. My horror genre is a comedic, dark hero horror, basically anything like the newest Hansel and Gretel.
Rebounding huge from yesterday’s low point, Wychwood’s Wychraft earns a Marcus Grimm approved A.
Lasting Strength: 10/10
Overall: 9.4/10 A