Black Hen with The Velvet Underground


paired with



Hop Rocket [6.9%] is the mind-melting masterpiece from Black Hen brewer Fergus McIver and is brewed using Simcoe, Bramling Cross, Citra and Cascade hops.

It pours a pleasing deep amber colour and sports a crisp white head that looks like someone has taken aeroplane trails out of the clear blue autumn sky, clumped them together and bundled the end result into a glass. The aroma is very hop forward and instantly had me uttering a loud ‘Oh fuck yes!’ It smells like there has been an explosion at the sweet factory and it’s raining cola bottles, jelly tots and Sherbet DibDabs. It’s just the kind of deliciously crazy smell I’ve come to hope for when I crack open a bottle of USA style IPA. The taste is just as mad and out-there as the nose: it’s like you’ve shoved a pack of Fruit Toffos in your gob then sprinkled in some Space Dust and then topped it off with a few drops of Angostura. There is a little bit of a dry earthiness just before the finish that is more reminiscent of a good English IPA instead of one of its American cousins… not that I have any problem with that whatsoever as it adds another layer to the beer and helps set it apart from its peers. The finish itself is long and bitter and very very pleasing. All-in-all this is supremely accomplished and satisfying IPA that deserves to grace the taps of the world’s finest hostelries.

Hop Rocket is small batch brewed by the Black Hen Brewery and is, sadly, not currently available to buy

* * *

White Light/White (the home of Sister Ray)

Sister Ray kicks-in sounding like it has existed since before the dawn of sound. The guitars are heavy and abrasive but have a beautiful melodic undercurrent… like a pack of marauding mentals who having chased you for a half-dozen blocks grab you by the arm and casually inform you that you dropped a twenty. Then the Vox Continental of John Cale joins the gorgeous cacophony and a huge shit-eating grins instantly spreads across your face – very rarely does an instrument produce such pure joy and insanity as Cale’s continental.  And from there on we’re into a aural war zone. Mo and Sterl wisely choose not to take sides and their decision to keep things relatively simple and constant gives Reed & Cale the time and space they need to push things over the limit and destroy every molecule of one another. Reed squeezes some fucking astounding feedback screeches from his guitar and truly takes control of the sonic assault but just when you feel Cale has more-or-less dropped out and is merely politely tapping away it his keyboard he comes slicing across the top of everything with a frenzied drone attack that leaves Lou a bloody and nearly completely broken mess of a man… but he’s not done… he stands back up, dusts of his trousers and gets straight back at Cale. And the battle rages back and forth, back and forth, back and forth… until you realise that they are no longer battling each other but instead they are battling the entire fucking cosmos… and they’re winning. And they’re creating a truly mind-expanding masterpiece.

I like to think that after the last note had been fired the four of them stood there in silence for several minutes, just looking at each other, breathing heavily, perhaps gently nodding their heads, content in the knowledge that they had just created a sound of such chaotic beauty that it would probably never be surpassed and then, without saying a single word, they pack up their gear and fuck off home.

Sister Ray is 17 minutes of sonic delight – the perfect soundtrack to the taste delight that is Black Hen’s Hop Rocket.

* * *

… follow @FergusMcIver on Twitter …


~ by landells on November 11, 2012.

6 Responses to “Black Hen with The Velvet Underground”

  1. I was really enjoying reading this post until I came to the bit “currently not available to buy”…

    In the words of Vivian from The Young Ones, “you complete and utter bastard!”

    In other words, quality scoopage 🙂

    • Yeah, sorry about that. I did feel a bit of a scumbag reviewing a beer that isn’t really available but I only write when I feel inspired and Hop Rocket inspired me so I went for it. But it inspired a comment that contained a Young Ones quote so I feel admonished but vindicated 😉

  2. Hello sir. Listening to Sister Ray now. A dirty, growling, prowler of a song. Top post, as always. You should post more often. Cheers, my brother

  3. You should do something pairing wise with this

    • I shall see what I can do…

      Sadly, I never saw Spacemen 3 live. Have seen J in Spiritualized a couple of times and Kember in his Experimental Audio Research guise

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