The Nottingham CAMRA Beer Festival in October 2001 gave Philip and Niven the ideal opportunity to launch their brewery to the Nottingham public. Steve Westby was the beer festival cellarman which means he selected, ordered and looked after the 316 different real ales that were on sale. This is Steve’s story of how Mushy Pea Beer came about…
“Philip Darby thought it would be a good idea if I came in and helped brew a special beer for the festival. I was keen to have a go but wanted the beer to be something a bit different. Now there is nothing more that reflects the taste of Nottingham than mushy peas and mint sauce which are traditionally sold at the annual Goose Fair each October. So I thought why not brew a mushy pea beer? I put it to Philip and he thought it might work although Niven, who undertakes much of the actual brewing work, had to be convinced.
“I went into the brewery to help with the brew one Sunday 11 days before the festival. We decided it should be a 4.2% golden coloured ale and it was to be brewed in the conventional way but with some mushy peas added in the mash and later further peas added to the copper at the same time as the hops. We used 5 boxes of peas on each occasion, they were not pre soaked as we felt that brewing process would achieve this.
“The brew went well except that the residue of the peas clogged up the filter on the copper and it took Niven about five hours to transfer the wort into the fermenter instead of the usual 20 minutes (if you wish to suggest to Niven that he should brew a further batch of the beer be sure to be wearing a cricket box for your own safety!)
“The name of the beer "Double Jeopardy" came about when I was telling my fellow Notts County fans about it in the pub before a game. Like a flash one of our raucous crowd quipped "I know call it Double Jeopardy - if the beer don't get you, the peas certainly will!" So the name stuck. Mushy Mild was another of my ideas. If you add caramel to a beer it turns it very dark and gives a sweeter, less bitter and more rounded edge to the taste - more like a mild, although strictly speaking it is too hoppy to be a real mild, which in any event would be darkened with darker malts rather than caramel. So Double Jeopardy appeared in two guises.
“The beers were just like good, high quality cask conditioned beers should be, with the peas imparting little flavour although some detected a slight nuttiness. The beers were served at a special Nottingham Brewery Bar in the hall. Of course, they were a roaring success with all of the casks quickly selling out to be replaced by back-up stock. We even had some mint sauce on the bar and a few crazy people added it to the beer - they said it tasted good but I am not ruining good beer so I didn't try it. There are no plans to brew the beer again.”