When is real ale unreal? This is the question being posed by many beer aficionados in the wake of serious allegations being made about a new micro-brewery which has enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity over recent weeks. “It doesn’t just taste like shit – it is shit,” complained beer expert Rod Whippet in the pages of his local newspaper, the Crapchester Chronicle last month, when reviewing the brewery’s most popular ale, Stencher’s Pride. “Really, it is quite literally effluent, liquid excrement. My only hope is that it isn’t human in origin, although I have my suspicions.” Andy Husky, proprietor of Shit House Brewery, based in Turdley, just North of Crapchester, which brews Stencher’s Pride, quickly retorted, dismissing Whippet’s allegations as being ‘utter nonsense’. “Look, just because we’re called Shit House Brewery and are based in a converted public lavatory, doesn’t mean that our beers are shit,” he told Turdley FM. “I’m afraid that Rod is completely out of step with our many satisfied customers, who all enjoy our beer and just keep coming back for more. To be sure, our dark, strong beers with their thick textures and distinctively throat-catching tastes aren’t for everyone, but they’ve proven especially popular with members of the local branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).”

Indeed, despite being sold only in a handful of Turdley pubs, Shit House beers have quickly become a firm favourite amongst local real ale fans, with persistent talk that the Crapchester CAMRA branch could be considering awarding Stencher’s Pride their prestigious Small Brewery Beer of the Year Award. While refusing to confirm these rumours, branch chair Kim Dobermann admits that the new brewery has made quite a stir. “The CAMRA branch recently attended an open day there and we were hugely impressed by what we saw,” she told the Turdley Parish Newsletter. “It’s quite amazing how Andy has been able to convert those old public toilets into a brewery whilst still retaining their essential charm, not to mention many of the original features.” She went on to describe how cisterns had been converted into fermentation vessels and toilet bowls into filters. “It really is very quaint and amusing – he’s retained all the stalls, with a different beer being brewed in each one,” Dobermann enthused. “In the visitor’s bar, situated in what was the Ladies’ toilet, you actually sit on one of the old toilets and, instead of the beer being pumped, it is poured by gravity from a cistern, operated by the chain being pulled!”

Whippet isn’t surprised by the CAMRA membership’s enthusiasm for Shit House ales. “The whole set up is just tailor made to appeal to them – we all know that they aren’t interested in any beer that isn’t brewed in an obscure micro-brewery,” he opines. “Especially if it is in an unusual location and has an amusing name. And all the better if the beers they brew are equally amusingly named: like Stencher’s Pride, or Old Dougie’s Best Shitter.” The latter beer also, Whippet points out, has the sort of quaint and rustic story attached to its name guaranteed to enthral the average CAMRA member. “They can’t be content with just liking a beer for its taste,” he says. “It has to have some kind of ‘provenance’, in this case it is a lighter brew than Stencher’s Pride, named for a local ‘character’ who regularly frequented the premises when they were still a toilet, always leaving his distinctive ‘calling card’ in the bowl of his favourite stall. Of course it is now, supposedly, brewed in that very stall.”

Beer critic Whippet dismisses CAMRA as elitists completely out of touch with popular taste. “They are beer snobs, pure and simple,” he scoffs. “ According to these self-appointed guardians of our beer drinking heritage, if you don’t drink so called ‘Real Ales’ then, by God, you are a peasant with no sense of taste. And I’m not just referring here to those who drink lager, (they’re just common or garden hooligans). Oh no, if you have the audacity to drink something brewed by one of the big breweries, then you are beyond the pale in the world of real ale, where only the must quaintly named and unspeakably filthy tasting brews pass muster. Is it any wonder they can’t tell that they are drinking raw sewage?” Whippet remains adamant that Shit House ales are just that: shit. “Stencher’s Pride might well be a thick, dark brown brew,” he rages. “So thick, in fact, that it has lumps in it, horrible brown lumps. Lumps with a very distinctive aroma – one guaranteed to attract flies!”

Whippet points out that his views have been supported by a former employee of Shit House Brewery, who has gone public with his allegations as to the origins of the beer brewed there. “There is no real brewing going on there – Husky has just tapped into the sewer mains and lightly waters down the effluent that pours out before bottling it,” revealed Arthur Mastiff on the popular beer blog ‘One Over the Eight’. “The fact is that Rod Whippet is right: the brewery name and location, the names of the beers and even the fake origin stories attached to them, were all created to deliberately appeal to the CAMRA crowd – who Husky actually despises.” According to Mastiff, Husky’s animosity dates back to the closure of his beloved local pub, The Fart and Firkin. “The locals tried to get the local CAMRA branch involved in trying to save it, but they just weren’t interested,” he explains. “He reckoned that it was just too ordinary, a boozer for regular people, serving regular, drinkable, beer. They were more interested in visiting twee little country pubs serving beers with ‘amusing’ names and tasting like they’ve been filtered through a sweaty jock strap. His old local is now a block of flats.” Consequently, Husky decided to exact his revenge by persuading the local CAMRA branch to literally drink shit, and like it. Undterred by these revelations, not to mention a pending investigation by local Environmental Health Officers, Husky has announced a new beer: Golden Skidder. “It’s strained through several pairs of old underpants for that unique flavour,” he says. “I think that I can guarantee that the local CAMRA crowd will love it.”