This pint came with a crash course in West Country History. RCH Pitchfork Rebellious Bitter, named after the Pitchfork Rebellion, or Monmouth Rebellion of 1685, was the best of a tasty group of locally brewed beers we tried with my friend Camilla while visiting her in Somerset. While we shared it Camilla told us of the uprising of local farmers, non-conformists and Protestants who wanted to overthrow the “papist” king, James II. Many of the supporters were executed most brutally in the “Bloody Assizes” of Judge Jeffreys. The first to go, burned at the stake, was Alice Lisle.
Despite this particularly dark history, this beer was bright and sunny. I pictured myself drinking this somewhere off the oldest engineered roadway, the Sweet Track in the Somerset Levels– an area that was once an inland sea surrounding the mythic isle of Avalon. It would be a new Spring day where the grass had, in in more recent history, worked the bloodshed, the bodies piled high, into itself. Beer is never very far from death, being itself a fermented thing, but I digress.
Pitchfork was bottle conditioned; the cloudy sediment in my glass settling at the bottom gave the beer a refreshing and whole presence. It had a citrus-weiss front, a floral hop middle with a dry closure and some pleasantly lingering bitterness. Camilla said it reminded her of Indian beer, and it shared a resemblance to excellent IPAs I’ve tried.
To say that each glass of beer is full of history, or that England’s story is older than the national identity of the U.S. would be cliche. I wouldn’t say I drink beer looking for a past. Many American tourists do come to the UK looking for ancestral roots and this is just the solipsistic version of looking for a history. But while drinking a pint, sometimes history finds you.
Eats: Chana Batura (extra spicy)
While listening to: Melvins, At the Stake.