History

The mysterious Mr Obadiah

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If you’re at all like me, you might have thought Little Creatures simply made up the name of their latest Single Batch.
Called Mr Obadiah, I figured that wasn’t a real person at all (it also made me sing The Beatles song Ob-La-Di Ob-LA-Da every time I thought of the name, but I can understand if no-one else did that).

Well, turns out this Mr Obadiah is a real person. Well, sort of. It’s the pen name of an English brewer who wrote a letter to a newspaper back in 1760. The pen name was actually Obadiah Poundage, and I can only guess that Little Creatures didn’t go with the more accurate Mr Poundage as a name because Mr Obadiah sounds better. Because I reckon it does.

Anyway, Obadiah’s letter was about the prices of beer. He wrote how the taxes on malt, hops as well as duty on barrels of beer was making things rough for brewers, as the price they could sell their beer had been fixed too low. At least I think that’s what he’s complaining about – it’s written in ye olde English where 15 words are used when one or two would suffice.

More interesting is his claim that some people, stuck with kegs of stale beer, would mix it with fresh to get their money’s worth.

‘‘… some moneyed people made a trade of purchasing their hopped beers at the first hand, keeping them sometime and when stale to dispose of the same to Publicans for 5/- per barrel and 6/- per barrel. Our tastes but slowly alter or reform. Some drank mild beer and stale mixed, others ale, mild beer and stale blended together…’’

But the reason why Little Creatures has named their rye porter after this man is because the letter contains some of the earliest information about the origins of porter. Seems some brewers decided to make it to ensure beer being served was fresh.

‘‘At first it was slow in making its way, but in the end the experiment succeeded beyond all expectation. The labouring people, porters etc. experienced its wholesomeness and utility, they assumed to themselves the use thereof, from whence it was called Porter or Entire Butt. As yet, however, it was far from being in the perfection which since we have had it. I well remember for many years it was not expected, nor was it thought possible to be made fine and bright, and four or five months was deemed to be sufficient age for it to be drunk at.’’

See what I mean about that olde English?

Anyway, the Little Creatures interpretation of Mr Obadiah is much better. For mine, it upholds the standards that people have come to expect with Single Batch releases. In fact, of the darker Single Batch beers I’ve had, this is the best.
I’m a real fan of the chocolately flavour. On the nose it reminds me of chocolate-covered coffee beans. On the tongue, it’s all dark chocolate flavours, with the hits of coffee coming at the back end after you swallow. The rye is there in the background, the slight spiciness contributing to the overall flavour rather than trying to dominate.

I got two free bottles to review and I reckon I’ll be buying a few more while it’s still around.

3 replies »

  1. “some people, stuck with kegs of stale beer, would mix it with fresh to get their money’s worth” – you’ve been confused by the modern use of the word “stale”. Poundage used it to mean “mature”, not “off”. “Stale” beer was highly regarded, for its sharp, tart flavour, and people would mix it with new, fresh, “mild” beer to spark up the new stuff. But storing mild beer until it was old enough to be termed “stale” tied up capital, and therefore only “monied” people would do it, and they would then sell it, at a premium, to the retailers tio mix with fresh beer to the customers’ tastes.

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