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INNOVATION, MADNESS AND BEER

Experimentation. It takes you to places that ordinarily you wouldn't go to. It reveals new perspectives and possibilities. It requires leaps of faith and a devil-may-care attitude towards tradition. And where does all this get you? Well, in some instances, not very far. The Automatic Smoking Machine, invented by the Victorians to recreate that special odour of a busy bar at home, was arguably not a leap of faith worth making. But in other instances, it can lead to innovations that markedly improve on life as we know it. It is with this in mind that we explore three innovative products and salute the experimental spirit and all its attendant insanity.
Firstly, we turn to an innovation from Oxford. We're not referring to Penicillin (invented at Oxford University in 1939), but to Oddbins No.2 (£2.65), our new collaborative beer with Compass Brewery. Whether or not history judges it to be as important as Penicillin, only time will tell. But we can guarantee that it tastes better than mould in a Petri dish. No, wait! We’re under-selling here. Let us start again: it’s a malt-based ale, in the German ‘Kölsch’ style brewed, unusually, with a portion of smoked malt, bringing a gentle smoky complexity to the mix. The upshot is a bright gold beer with gentle aromas of citrus and hay. It has a very approachable palate, with yeasty, bready notes, a lovely earthiness and a gentle whiff of smoke. Following the dizzy excitement of this discovery, we spun around in our lab coats to cast our eyes over our Beer Buying department. What have we done? We’re offering you the chance to help us choose beers to list. So if you have a love of beer and want to be paid in beer, to taste beer, then please apply on Twitter, using #OddbinsBeer. It might just be the best job in the world.
For the second innovation, *offers up hands to be cuffed by police*, we have to commit a crime. A crime against tradition that is! (We’re here all day, folks). Yes we are going against hundreds of years of history and are now stocking – wait for it – a sparkling wine in a screw cap! No doubt to the despair of half of France, we now stock the beautiful, fresh-as-a-daisy Willowglen Brut NV (£10) from South East Australia. Sealed with a screw cap, the Italian-Australian makers just didn’t feel the need to have a cork. Screw caps are easier and generally less fuss. And Australians don’t do fuss. Anyway, after you’ve twisted the top off you’ll love discover a blissful blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (a French tradition that they have kept), with pure, clean apple-y flavours served up on a lightly creamy palate.
Lastly we turn to an existing innovation that produces a drink so ephemeral and delicate that you could reasonably assume it was made by a fairy at the bottom of the garden. We speak of Tio Pepe Fino En Rama (£16), which is a dry, unrefined Sherry taken from the middle of a wooden cask during spring, when the protective blanket of ‘flor’ is at its thickest. Flor - the naturally occurring crust that forms on Sherry whilst it’s ageing in the Solera casks – is what gives dry Sherry its iodine-like, salty twang. With En Rama Sherry, those flavours are more pronounced and have a limited shelf-life so, to taste it at its best, it should be consumed (assuming the sun’s past the yardarm as you read this) right about… now.Toodles.