Once upon a time, a global pandemic caused chaos across the UK...
2020 has been a hard year for us all. We’re adapting to working from home, social distancing and celebrating birthdays on Zoom. Entire industries are on the brink of collapse, arguably none more-so than performing arts sector.
As the Brewgooder team turned to look at what we might do for a Christmas campaign this year, we came upon a newspaper article that highlighted the devastating impact of Covid-19 on pantomime season. Alongside being a much-loved festive tradition, pantomime revenue accounts for more than a quarter of annual box office sales in some theatres, not to mention the thousands of performers who are now out of work during what is often their busiest time of year. Although Government funding is finally coming through for struggling theatres, self-employed performers have not received the same support, and are relying on donations from various independent organisations to protect their livelihoods and industry (without having to retrain...)
As big fans of pantomime (oh yes we are), we knew there was only one thing for it; our very own panto in a box! With a little help from our friends, we’re thrilled to have put together a box of four delicious beers, panto snacks from Tony’s Chocolonely and Love Popcorn, AND our very own unique pantomime story 'Jack and the Beer Hops' — written by renowned Scottish panto writer and star, Jonny McKnight. Proceeds from sales of the boxes will go to The Theatre Artists Fund to support performers who are out of work due to Covid-19.
Find out more about the beers, the story and the funding below! Or buy your box straight away HERE.
About the beers
We’ve teamed up with three of our favourite beery pals to create a delicious line-up, with each beer reflecting a classic pantomime character.
The Pantomime Dame
The Wild Beer Co as Mother Gose – 5% Pineapple, ginger and hibiscus gose
Representing our Panto Dame is the equally magnificent Wild Beer Co. Russ and the team at Wild Beer truly immersed themselves into the project, channelling their most fabulous selves to create a delicious beer, as well as insisting that their dame be wearing a delightful pineapple headpiece!
Wild Beer’s blend of fruit, spice and flowers adds a fruity, warming and colourful dimension to a traditional gose, befitting of our pantomime dame. Mother Gose is fermented with both a new, experimental yeast and Wild Beer’s established house strain to compliment the flavours and bring a touch of acidity to the beer.
The perfect beer to pair with a decadent banquet of golden eggs and magic beans.
Gipsy Hill as Daisy the Coo – 4.6% Session IPA
They may be the sidekick, but we all know that this supporting character always has a pivotal part to play in any pantomime.
We knew we wanted to find a sessionable pale or IPA to fit the bill of the “light entertainment” that the sidekick often provides in a pantomime, with a juicy, bold flavour that you know can hold its own in centre stage. Enter Gipsy Hill’s Hepcat.
A favourite of the Gipsy Hill catalogue, we jumped at the chance to showcase Hepcat. This juicy, jazzy session IPA is everything the style should be, with a fruity nose of pineapple, mango and citrus, a juicy body from hot-side Motueka hop additions and a bright taste.
Mondo Brewing Company as Jack – 6% Mountain IPA
We knew the hero in our story should be represented by an IPA; a fan favourite with bold characteristics. Mondo did not let us down with their latest in a series of seasonal beers that they call their House IPA, otherwise known as a Mountain IPA (not West Coast or East Coast, but somewhere in the middle).
Extra Pale Ale malt provides the base with wheat, oats and Vienna malts added for body and flavour. Expect a mellow bittering hit from fruity Hull Melon hops, then all the aroma from classic American hops on the cold side. It’s a hoppy IPA with a grown up ABV, perfectly balanced, with a light haze.
Brewgooder and Pact Coffee as Bawrus Wetherspun (Greedyman Stout) – 6.5% Coffee and Vanilla Stout
Bawrus Wetherspun is the fat cat villain of our story, and someone that could only be depicted by a dark and brooding beer. We decided to use our much-loved recent collaboration stout with Pact coffee to represent our panto baddie.
Using Pact’s house blend, a strong espresso aroma compliments a bold roast flavour and a hint of toffee sweetness (perhaps suggesting that our villain has a soft side in there somewhere!?). Addition of oats in the malt bill plays to a velvety mouthfeel, where subtle and smooth vanilla flavour comes through.
When we first approached Scottish panto writer, director and actor Johnny McKnight, we weren’t sure what he’d make of our pitch of wanting to write a beer themed pantomime. Thankfully, he was more on board than we could ever have hoped for, and immediately set to work on bringing our panto story, Jack and the Beer Hops, to life. The story follows some of the classic themes from Jack and the Beanstalk, while giving it a beery spin that’s loosely based on some industry-led current affairs. If you want to find out more, you’ll have to buy the box!
Johnny McKnight has donned the panto dame heels for the last 18 years in and around Scotland’s theatres. Having written over 18 original pantomimes, this year sees the first time since he can remember that he won’t be on stage. And there won’t be an audience.
We are so grateful to Johnny for giving his time to this project and helping us to create our very own Christmas pantomime. We're going to catch up for an interview with Johnny at a later date so stay tuned!
The Theatre Artists Fund (charity number 292559) has been set up to provide emergency support for theatre workers and freelancers across the UK. It is for theatre professionals who are in need of urgent and critical financial support due to the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the theatre sector, and particularly those from underrepresented groups disproportionately affected by the crisis.
The fund, spearheaded by director Sam Mendes, is supported by organisations including Netflix, the Andrew Lloyd Webber foundation, Backstage Trust and Arts Council England. So far £3.9 million has been raised and 2,613 grants awarded. Every donation big or small helps, and we hope to be able to make an impact with sales of our panto boxes.
We are also offering our customers the opportunity to add on a £5 “panto ticket” to their panto box, which acts as a straight £5 donation to The Theatre Artists Fund in return for a souvenir ticket acknowledging their donation.
Out with our amazing brewery partners, we could not have brought this project to life without the support of many industry partners, who have offered products or services at reduced rates to maximise the funding that we can donate to the cause. A huge thank you to everyone involved in this project:
Story: Johnny McKnight
Illustration: Jamie McDonald
Snacks: Tony’s Chocolonely, Love Popcorn
Graphic Design: Jez Dunn aka Happy Place Design
Labels: Label Express
Print: Evolve Group
PR and video: Manifest
So roll up, roll up, take your seats and grab your front row tickets to your very own Panto in a Box experience!