The Big Spoon: Hooch with Hoggy

Today I did a bit of bottling up… as one tends to do as a bar wench. I enjoy bottling up because of all of the pretty logos (sorry, I have a branding addiction), even if I’m enjoying the breweriana in a giant walk-in fridge. It’s slightly cold. Anyway, it’s times like this I remember the genuinely impressive range that Wetherspoons has, from alcopops for people who dropped their taste buds down a drain one night to genuinely tasty brews like Staropramen and Samuel Adams.

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This is when I decided on a new side project for Pub Geek. I’m calling it The Big Spoon as I will slurp my way through Spoons’ astonishing bottle range. Being baffled by big name bland beers, consuming colourful ciders and asking the big question: which tastes more blue, WKD or VK? It’s a silly idea but it’ll be fun.

For the first round I choose Hooch, the alcopop that brings out much nostalgic pointing even though personally I was 12 when it originally disappeared from shelves in the UK.

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It resurfaced last summer hoping to regain it’s title as the King of Alcopops but this time with branding that was a whole lot less appealing to humans who should be more interested in hula hoops and toy cars than boozy brews with pretty packaging (also known as “children”).

“Hooch has grown up, literally. Now available in 500ml bottles, the new look alcoholic lemon brew is served over ice in a pint glass and fully delivers on its promise of ‘Refreshment with bite’.

The new 4% abv recipe contains real lemons and natural juices, and following a sharp burst of citrus which explodes on to the palate, Hooch softens with subtle lemon tones to deliver a truly refreshing finish.”

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Hooch now has three flavours; lemon, orange and blackcurrant. The orange looked pretty odd in the trademark green bottles but I have to admit the blackcurrant did look rather appealing. But then again, I put Vimto in Strongbow (guilty pleasure).

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Along with my friend Jamie I plonked myself down in the Spoons near my house and grabbed three bottles.

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We started with the classic lemon, which is after all, the big seller of the three.

Suzy says: “It looks pretty nice, like slightly luminescent cloudy lemonade. Smells like someone added a few sugarcubes too many to the same. The flavour is okay but it’s so sweet and syrupy that it’s kind of hard to drink.”

Jamie says: “It even looks cloying. It’s actually okay, like sweet cloudy lemonade… but it’s so artificial and saccharin.”

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Next was the orange one which I think even looks unpleasant in the bottle. The orange colour looks bizarre behind the green glass and even worse when you actually pour it.

Suzy says: “It looks solid and has the texture of syrup. It sticks to the roof of your mouth and hangs onto your tongue. As well as being strangely dry it tastes flat in spite of the fizz. It’s missing the pelsant tang of the lemon. The only good thing is that it smells like a Calipo… shame it doesn’t taste like one.”

Jamie says: “It resembles a drunk wee; too potent and it hurts when it comes out. I find myself producing way too much saliva. It just tastes of chemicals. Undrinkable.”

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Finally the one I was actually tempted by; blackcurrant.

Suzy says: “The blackcurrant flavour actually tastes of blackcurrant and it doesn’t have the syrupiness of the other two. If it wasn’t such a strong flavour – albeit a nice one – it’d be really tasty.”

Jamie says: “It looks like someone made cordial and put the tap on too fast. It’s less viscious than the others and I like the strength of flavour… I make squash double strength to be fair.”

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Final thoughts…

Suzy: I feel queasy.

Jamie: I think my teeth are dissolving.

Now for the ratings. Zero stars is undrinkable, one star is “eh”, two is so-so and three is good.

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Blackcurrant is head of the Hooch family with 3 out of a possible 6 stars and orange is hanging its head in shame with minus one star. Not much to gloat about either way.

So there you have it. I tried Hooch with Hoggy and it was more of a sugar rush that a boozy evening but hey ho, on to the next bottle!

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