Some of you will know that as well as being a beer lover I’m also pretty serious about music. I don’t get to as many gigs as I used to but I couldn’t go a week without listening to something. Whether it’s 6 Music while I make dinner, a CD while I get ready to go out, or something on my i Pad while I’m in the shower, I like life to have a soundtrack.
So I was super excited when someone drew my attention (thanks Amy Godfrey) to a folky duo from Huddersfield who have written a beer themed song and even more so when I heard it and it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I couldn’t tell you precisely why that happened, but I think it was hearing a love of beer set to music.
Happily the duo in question – O’Hooley and Tidow (pronounced teedo) – got in touch after I tweeted a link to the You Tube video of the song and, on the eve of the release of their third album The Hum, Belinda O’Hooley (formerly of the Unthanks) gave me an interview about their love of beer and what made them write a song about it.
I started by asking how they might respond to someone who thought women shouldn’t be drinking beer, let alone singing about it.
“I would tell them to get a life,” says Belinda. “We are mad about real ale, and when we heard that Huddersfield was the microbrewery capital of England we had to find out more. Our extensive research has revealed there are many women brewers in Huddersfield including Mallinsons Brewing Company, Lisa at Riverhead Brewery Tap and Sam Smith of Sportsman’s Brewing Co,” she adds. Going on to explain what inspired she and Heidi to pen Summat’s Brewin’ – which turns out to be as much a political statement as a celebration of beer.
“It’s an ode to real ale but also [to] the real ale revolution; offering flavourful alternatives, stirring up, and bringing together communities to stand up against corporate domination and the destruction of the local British pub.”
I find that folk musicians have more integrity and authenticity than some, but I still felt the need to prod these beery singer-songwriters to be sure there was some ale experience behind their art. Although when on tour or performing they restrict their drinking to a pint after the show they seem to genuinely love their beer.
“Heidi’s favourite brew is Mallinsons Lockwood Pale (3.8%). She’s also a massive fan of Ossett Brewery’s Silver King (4.3%) and always orders a pint of it in the Riverhead Brewery Tap after one of our long rambles up Marsden Moor,” says Belinda.
“My favourites are Thornbridge Jaipur (5.9%), but I can only manage a couple of pints … or I’d be flat on my back! I’m also a big fan of Mallinsons Jack the Lass (3.8%) which was named after a character called Anne Lister from our song Gentleman Jack,” (which can be found on their second album The Fragile).
As well as favourite beers I also enquired after their favourite places to drink and once again the flag was flown for Yorkshire.
“We’re spoiled for choice around our local area with The Sportsman’s Arms in Huddersfield being our particularly favourite ale house. Others worth a mention include the very funky Hand Drawn Monkey (also in Huddersfield), Riverhead Brewery Tap in Marsden, The Sair Inn, Linthwaite, The Rat & Ratchet in Huddersfield and not forgetting The West Riding Refreshment Rooms in Dewsbury!”
Despite their good taste in beer and places to drink it though, the duo haven’t gone so deep into the beer revolution as to think of themselves as beer and food aficionados.
“I think a light and hoppy ale is the perfect accompaniment to most dishes,” suggests Belinda – adding, “We find it difficult to pour good ale into casseroles and would rather drink it, so we tend to use red wine in our cooking instead.”
With a celebration of good ale like Summat’s Brewin’ behind them, I’ll not hold that against them.
- You can find Summat’s Brewin’ on O’Hooley & Tidow’s new album The Hum, which is out now and available to buy via their website. Catch them on tour and at festivals around the UK this spring and summer - including: 8 March, Huddersfield Marsden Mechanics Hall and 31 March, London St Pancras Old Church. See their website for full list of dates.