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September 12, 2003

Bitter & Twisted

Beer of the Night. Champion beer of Scotland. Champion beer of Britain.

Official beer of ex-girlfriends everywhere, at least until someone slaps a dog label on a hopped up Pale Ale and markets it as "Bitter Bitch."

"Watch out for the Bitter Bitch. She's got a bite."

If I ever open a brewery, that's the second brew on the list. It would likely never get made, as the first beer on the list, a dunkel or dark lager, is one with a name so politically incorrect that I would be hounded out of town on a rail the minute I tried to sell it.

Big Mandingo

I have never seen Mandingo, nor read the book, and so have no idea if the actual content of either is as....heated as the poster implies. Had the downtown movie theatre in the little Southern town I grew up in not prominently displayed the poster for all the world to see for what seemed like a month, I would have presumably spent the rest of my life in blissful ignorance of Mandingo's existence. As it was, I think every kid in town could have described the poster down to the smallest detail weeks after it finally vanished from the marquee.

Obviously it made an impression on me. Years ago I made up a whole ad campaign for my mythical beer based on the tropes within that poster

Expect the savage. The sensual. The shocking.
Expect everything that the beer industry has never dared brew before.
Now, you are ready for Mandingo.

The television commercial writes itself. Remember the old Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull commercials, where some hapless sucker orders a "Bull", then looks around in astonishment as the other patrons scatter in anticipation of the animal itself crashing through the wall?

It's a lot like that.



Two girls in their 20's walk up the bar of a crowded nightclub. There is frenzied activity on the dance floor behind them. The girls are dressed in come-hitherwear, and are flushed in a manner that imples sexual readiness, obviously just having left the dance floor. FIRST GIRL motions to the bartender and orders, in a very southern accent.

"Lawd, I sure could use me a Big Mandingo right about now."

The frenzied, frenetic night club atmosphere shuts down immediately. All is silent, all is still. All eyes are on the girls, who are startled by the sudden change of events.


In the distance, something massive hits the earth.


The beer in the glass ripples, exactly as the water puddles did in Jurassic Park when the tyrannosaurus made his first appearance.

With that sound the crowd in the background breaks into panic, running for the exit, cowering under tables.


The girls look around in confusion. Cut to the BARTENDER, totally unafraid, shaking his head at the pair in disgust as he wipes down a glass.


The last few crowd members make their escape just as the wall opposite the bare implodes. A cloud of dust swirls away, revealing SHAQUILLE O'NEAL. He's carrying a round beer tray, on which there stands an empty glass and a bottle of Big Mandingo. He carries it over the the girls, who lean back against the bar, staring at him with fear and fascination as he looms over them.

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL carefully places the tray on the bar beside FIRST GIRL, picks up the bottle, and pours her a glass.

"Here you go, ma'am."

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL then turns and walks back towards the immense hole in the wall.

Cut to the BARTENDER, who shouts at the departing figure.

"Hey, I gave you those keys for a reason!"


Big Mandingo. Are you ready for it?"

Yes, yes. It's horrible. I'm a horrible person, with all sorts of toxic sludge clogging up my persona.

But I swear to you that commercial would sell beer.

The tagline needs to be improved, though.


Okay, kind of got away from the subject there. Besides, I don't really have the time to plot out the other Mandingo commercials. Yes, sadly I have a entire series all pre-shot in my head.

The Bitter & Twisted is probably as close to the Platonic ideal of a pale ale as a beer can get. It's produced in the same brewery that produces Old Engine Oil, but where the OEO (Oh-wee-oh-wee-oh) is a complex symphony of a beer, the B&T is a few notes played well, combining fruity esters that evaporate like perfume off the tongue, with sweet malt notes and a hoppy trill.

It's a smooth beer, fairly uncarbonated as it is bottled with about a third less carbon dioxide than normal, something that is done in an attempt to make the poured result taste fresher and more natural. The relative lack of CO2 gives B&T a smallish rapidly disappearing head when poured. There's not much to speak of in the way of bubbles rising to the surface of the brew, either.

Fortunately, bubbles don't tend to be a major requirement for me when it comes to beer, though there is very little as aesthetically pleasing as a freshly poured Guiness, which has bubbles out the wazoo.

"Wazoo" is the technical brewing term for a mechanism governing the expulsion of gas bubbles, in case you were wondering.

Where to Buy

If you're in the UK, you're in luck. Bitter & Twisted is available via the Beers of Scotland site. If you're in the U.S. or Canada, you'll have to check the store shelves. None of the American Internet beer sites offer the B&T at the moment. I found mine at the Ken's Quickie Mart in Durham.

Posted by Bigwig at September 12, 2003 12:06 AM | TrackBack
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The obvious tagline: Big Mandingo. Once you've tried it, you'll never go back.

Posted by: Kehaar at September 12, 2003 09:49 AM

Well, I'm sure Lucky Labrador could make such a "Bitter Bitch" beer, but I don't think they're going to.

Which reminds me of my favourite beer and women joke: "I like my women like I like my beer: Cold, pale, and bitter!"

Posted by: Sigivald at September 12, 2003 03:56 PM

Just curious, are you familiar with the Firkin Brewery in England?

Posted by: charles austin at December 22, 2004 04:41 PM

Hi Charles,

I am not, though there is a decent article on firkin beer in general here.

Posted by: Bigwig at December 22, 2004 04:57 PM
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