Monday 7th October 2013 was a strange day in the city of Bristol. A brassy, gold beer with a small but persisting white head; an aroma of honeysuckle and grasses and a creamy, coconut flavour backed with pithy hop bitterness giving way to passion fruit and pineapple simply appeared at a King Street street bar.
Was it a speciality brew? Was it a global pale ale? Could it even perhaps be a Coconut IPA? Who’s to say. For this beer is Princess Caraboo (7%) and is named after a famed hoaxer whom – some 200 years ago – Bristol’s gentry believed to be a princess from the (imaginary) island of Javasu in the Indian Ocean.
Was she a trickster? A fraudster? A con artist? Or a young woman with a wild imagination who had tired of being a servant girl and still in grief for the loss of a child used her wonderful creativity to cook up the story of an exotic foreign princess, kidnapped by pirates who then escaped by jumping overboard and swimming to Bristol. A turban-wearing, pineapple-loving, fencing, bow-and-arrow-shooting, dancing, foreign-tongued entertainer who people flocked to visit once her hosts started shouting about the fact they had a foreign princess staying with them?
Whichever version you opt for, the story of Princess Caraboo – real name Mary Willcocks – inspired Kaite (of Kubla Brewery) and I to name our collaboration beer after her. We wanted to brew something a little different and a bit exotic… something that might have arrived by boat for Bristol Beer Week to capture the imagination of drinkers and transport them to a different world. If you get to taste it, you’ll have to tell us if we’ve succeeded.
Kubla and Sophie Atherton’s Princess Caraboo (7%) will be unveiled as part of Bristol Beer Week at The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer (aka The Volley) this evening Mon 7th Oct at 7pm where its creators will be on hand to chat and answer questions.