Pendle Witches Brew
Review Date 3/24/2003
If you were to find yourself in the area of Pendle Hill in
Lancashire, England, some 400 years ago, you might have witnessed some very
strange goings on. The area was rife with reports of witchcraft and black
magic, and a number of alleged witches (the famed Pendle Witches for which
the beer is named) were actually hanged there in 1612. Brewing had certainly
not arrived as an industry in the area, at least not of beer anyway.
That would come some time later. In 1865, William Moorhouse established the brewery that still bears his name to this day. Moorhouse’s Brewery eventually became famous far and wide for its unique and distinctive Lancashire ales that today carry on two traditions: the brewing of beer and the area’s more infamous history of witchcraft.
The brewery itself seems to have something of a hex upon it. After William Moorhouse died, he willed the brewery to one of his two sons, Thomas Moorehouse. In a freak accident, Thomas was wounded by a bursting beer bottle in 1904, an accident that was ultimately responsible for his death.
The brewery was sold a number of times. In 1985, three years after purchasing Moorhouse’s brewery, entrepreneur Alan Hutchinson died unexpectedly. Several owners in between, while lucky enough not to lose their lives, did lose substantial amounts of money, though this is more likely attributable to bad business practices than bad luck.
Today, fortunately, the Moorhouse brewery is in the black (financially, of course), and its current proprietor seems to be doing just fine. It has won numerous awards for its brews, two of which are bottled and exported to many countries, including the United States. Both Black Cat Ale and the topic of today’s discussion, Pendle Witches’ Brew are unique and exceptional ales sure to place a spell on your taste buds.
Pendle’s Witches brew is sold in attractive 550 ml brown glass bottles. The brown glass served perfectly to protect my sample of this nicely hopped ale from skunking. This is a practice I wish more brewers who send their beers to America would engage in.
Pendle Witches’ Brew pours to a bright amber orange color with a light but creamy head formation and an enticing buttery nose. The palate is rich and chewy with strong notes of caramel, chocolate, rum-raisin, toffee, and buttery hints. The hop presence is very well pronounced, especially in the finish where it becomes wonderfully bitter with a sort of grassy, minty hop character that lingers on the tongue some time after sipping. A good amount of Brussels lace follows the beer all the way to the bottom of your glass.
This is a truly wonderful beer and one of the hoppiest and bitter English ales I have ever tasted. The contrast between the slightly sweet, caramel tasting notes and the hop bitterness is delightful.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.