I’ve known my buddy Glenn for a very long time, since before he became a wild animal trainer and professional zebra rider actually, and I’ve always loved his theatrical flair… We first crossed paths at the Halifax Buskers Festival in 1988 when Glenn was performing as a mime… A year later he was toying with the performance nom-de-plume ‘Howard I Know’ who, amongst other things had just started to play with a pantomime horse costume made out of bed sheets. The concept behind the costume is delightful…a miniature rider on a horse but the evolution of how that costume became Glenn’s trademark and indeed the inspiration behind this beer has a mythology all of it’s own.
The Flying Dutchmen, Noel Britten, Tash Wesp, & Moshe Cohen were all invited to meet up in the Canary Islands to rehearse The International Super Street Performers Theatre Show (which later had a smash opening at De Kleine Komedie in Amsterdam with The Shuffle Demons as the house band) a concept conceived by the brilliant Dutch performer Pieter Post (Mr. & Mrs. Jones on Holiday). He had seen Glenn in Halifax and invited him to join them. ‘Bring a new horse.’
In January of 1990 the group convened on the Boardwalk in Las Palmas. Glenn put his new steed together, drew a crowd and didn’t quite know what to do with them and they wandered off. Pieter suggested maybe jumping fences. After a day or so on the tennis court in the blazing sun, trying to jump over fruit crates in real time while the rest of the group lounged by the pool, it occurred to him to try it in slow motion. When he called them down, they all agreed he might have something after all and with great suggestions from many great performers the act took off.
The following year when Glenn accepted a gracious offer from master puppet builder, Erminio Pinque, from Big Nazo, to create a zebra-head for the costume the planets aligned and his character, El Gleno Grande high atop his mighty steed Sigfrido really started to take the International Festival Circuit by storm.
I like to joke that Glenn is a ‘one trick pony’ but at the heart of things, Glenn is an incredible storyteller who loves the tale he tells so much that his audiences can’t help but be charmed into falling in love with the ridiculous image of a tiny rider on a miniature zebra. Few performers are able to hold a show together with one visual gag, bravado and sheer force of will, which makes Glenn a very special and skilled showman.
“Help…I’ve fallen and I can’t giddy-up.!”
–El Gleno Grande
When it came to making a beer in tribute to this guy I simply asked him what he wanted and the response was simple…
“I love IPAs, the hop character is something I really enjoy, but after one or maybe two of those higher ABV beers I’m on the floor. I want all of those hops in a beer I can enjoy all night long.”
So creating an Indian Session Ale became the order of the day. I looked at the hops I was growing in my little hop yard and brought five different varieties into the boil kettle to craft a beer with all the hop character without the wallop of the high alcohol content. At 4.4% this is an easy drinking beer worthy of a long-necked rider of mini-zebras.
“As complex as an ostrich riding a zebra! An excellent beer!”
–Andrew Merta, Thirsty Coast Coalition