Life Through a Sparkler

House of Trembling Madness Illustration by Rebecca Wright

I’ve lived in Yorkshire now for nearly two months, living in three different cottages and one hotel room.  My nomad ways are over (for a time) and I find myself in a little cottage (“Moonlight Cottage” it’s called on the door, in that affectionate way the British have of naming their houses) in a little village a few miles outside of York.

It’s the kind of place where people win prizes for floral arrangements and making elderberry wine.

Though I may not win any awards, I have begun a little private brewery in the Moonlight Cottage– the first batch is bubbling in the fermenter as I write, an American Pale Ale brewed on the Cold Moon from partial extract, steeped with Crystal malt and Northern Brewer bittering hops and lots of Cascade for aroma.  I’ll be dry hopping this batch with more Cascade or Amarillo hops– I have yet to decide.

In the two months of Northern living I’ve drunk many a beer from a sparkler, which is a particularly Northern way of serving cask ale.  It is a method of delivery that produces a denser head and a mouth-feel that is creamier, at least initially.  I like it, or maybe I just like the beer up here that seems to echo the laid back understatement and love of place– predominant Northern qualities, if I can generalize.

I’ve had some cracking pints, which must be fuel for a future post.  The House of Trembling Madness, a medieval drinking hall specialising in Belgian beers, has become my new York local.  Oh how I love it’s cozy strangeness.  But there are no handpulls– no cask ale.  Mr. Malting made the mistake of asking the guy behind the bar if they had any “real ale” on, and he returned with a perfectly straight face, “What do you mean by real?” Which just made me like the place more.  And in the Shambles there is Pivni, which always sets my heart racing as I peer in at the taps.  It was there I tried BrewDog’s There is No Santa, the standout Christmas beer (and I tried quite a few this year)– with its velvety-nugmeg-dark-comfort– unforgettable!

The other unforgettable pint was of the omnipresent Black Sheep Bitter.  Yes, it’s everywhere here, and I was loathe to try it as the pints I’d had in London were just not that great, but I found myself snowed in in the village of Hutton-le-Hole on the moors during the beginnings of the brutal winter snows.  The Crown pub had been closed due to the snowy roads but somehow on this night the landlord made it in, and this was the beer they had.  There were just a few of us there but he’d stoked a roaring fire and if that wasn’t the most beautiful pint of bitter I’d ever had, I’d be lying.  And I had two more, something I almost never do.  I commented that the beer was so much better than the Black Sheep I’d had in London and someone called out, “It don’t travel well!”

On that night, tucked up near the fire, all the moors coated in fondant and sparkling in the moonlight, I thought, “and why should it?”

16 Responses

  1. Sounds idyllic really. Wish I had some local nice pubs like that around here. 🙂

    • The crown is a lovely pub. This village where I live now has a pub in it– a real local’s local– maybe not in a good way. I haven’t braved it yet–

  2. So happy to hear that you have been settling in up North and that you’re home brewing again. Sounds like a tasty batch. I’m looking forward to hearing more of your adventures with sparklers and such. I’ve only ever had Black Sheep ale in Yorkshire and it is always a tasty beer.

    • Thanks for reading, Laura. I will save a bottle of the APA for you if it is any good!

  3. I too have found Black Sheep isn’t as good away from Yorkshire, even though Merseyside is much closer to Yorkshire than London is.

    House names I’ve seen:
    “The Gables” on a house without any.
    “Sea View” on a house 8 miles inland.
    “Eritiz” – not a foreign name, but ‘here it is’.

    • Cask ale is mysterious that way, isn’t it!

      I don’t get the name thing, to be honest. I feel a bit odd living someplace called “Moonlight Cottage” but I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth for as long as I’m here!

  4. If them Brewdog guys were really OG punk, they’ve named their beer “There Ain’t No Sanity Claus” – but I agree, it was some righteous brew

  5. This is so beautifully written. I’m so glad that the trial-by-grimness is over and that the new life is going well!

  6. Yay! Impy’s blogging again 🙂

    • Hi Jack! My life is finally calmed down enough for me to obsess about beer again!

  7. Wonderful, welcome to the county. There’s much to be happy about! Give us a shout if you ever fancy a beer!

    • Thanks, Leigh! I would definitely be interested in a Leeds pub crawl with you some time if you are up for it!

  8. Sure – just let us know when you swing by and we’ll try to sort. Emails on the site.

  9. Will hopefully get to visit The House of Trembling Madness on the Twissup trip at the end of the month, sounds like a really cool place.

    Good to hear of another beer lover turning their hand at a bit of homebrewing too. 🙂


    • Hi Mark, where & when is the Twissup? Maybe I can make it if it’s local!

  10. Details here:


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