Every beer drinker knows the backstory to India Pale Ale, and as you’d expect, the UK has many different varieties – most breweries have one in their range. Although it was producers in the south-east of England that originally developed the style, up here in Scotland IPA’s are plentiful. So the 15th BeerCast podcast is a jaunt around four of these from our home patch. We begin very much at home, with Caldeonian’s Deuchars IPA – brewed in Edinburgh and drunk probably at least once a week by one member of the BeerCast or another. Then we move on to one from the islands, Colonsay IPA, produced from a small brewery in the Inner Hebrides. The third beer today is Belhaven’s Twisted Thistle IPA, from sunny Dunbar in East Lothian, and we finish the episode with a bang up north in Fraserburgh with BrewDog’s aptly-named Hardcore IPA.
1. Deuchar’s IPA (4.4%abv)
Caledonian Brewery, Edinburgh.
500ml glass bottle
Opened in 1869, the Caley is the only brewery left in the city of Edinburgh out of over 40 many years ago. Sadly it’s now no longer independent either, as at the start of the month (in between us recording this episode and it going out) they were taken over by Scottish & Newcastle. But they produce the most famous beer related to the city, which is now available on cask throughout much of the UK as a guest – presumably even more so now S&N’s distributary muscles will be flexing. Pronounced Joo-kerrs, we’re all incredibly familiar with it here – but that makes for an interesting beer to judge.
What They Say – “Deuchars IPA is a fabulous beer. A brilliant blend of malt and hop character and above all a drink with enormous drinkability.” [Roger Protz]
What We Say…
Richard – Worse than on cask, but still good and hoppy 7
Shovels – Nice, but there are better bottled IPA’s out there 6½
MrB – Deuchars is the stock beer I go for if there’s nothing nicer 6
Grooben – Your basic after-work-knock-a-few-back beer 6
2. Colonsay IPA (3.9%abv)
Colonsay Brewery, Isle of Colonsay.
568ml glass bottle (1 pint)
We’re all big fans of the Scottish islands here on the BeerCast (podcast 11 was our Northern Isles Special), and off the west coast you’ll find Colonsay. You might have to look hard, mind – it’s only 16sq miles of rock and beach between Mull and Islay. About 120 people call it home, and they are very lucky indeed to have a brewery in their midst. Founded in early 2007 their five barrel plant produces an 80/-, a lager, and an IPA – when the seas allow the ferries to collect their beers for distribution to markets on the mainland, that is. When the seas are too rough, the islanders get their own unique version of a lock-in.
What They Say – “What you get with this beer is a pale colour to reflect the malt type, but lots of hop and citrus and character to make this a pint to be savoured.” [Official Website]
What We Say…
MrB – Lots of flavours going on but they are very subtle 6½
Shovels – The light tastes grow on me when I have other IPA’s 6
Grooben – Very smooth and ever so slightly peaty aftertaste 6
Richard – You can taste this is from an island – light and airy 6
3. Twisted Thistle IPA (5.3%abv)
Belhaven Brewery, Dunbar.
500ml glass bottle
Thirty miles down the coast from Edinburgh is Belhaven – statistically Scotland’s sunniest place. Home to a brewery of the same name, which is most famous for Belhaven Best, another beer often seen around these parts, they also produce a rather undervalued IPA. I couldn’t find a single mention of it on their official website, but Twisted Thistle comes in a modestly-labelled bottle with few pretentions. Belhaven were founded in 1719, and were the oldest independent in Scotland, until they were bought out by Greene King in 2005 for £187m. We sampled their St Andrews Ale way back in BeerCast #1.
What They Say – “The blend of Cascade and Challenger hops combine to produce an abundance of fresh hop aroma that preludes a bitter-dry taste explosion.” [label tasting notes]
What We Say…
Richard – Got that characteristic zingy IPA hoppy taste 8
MrB – Bitter hoppy session ale with a bit of fizz, floats my boat 8
Grooben – This is right up my street, very nice 7½
Shovels – Classic IPA but makes me appreciate the subtler Colonsay 6
4. Hardcore IPA (9.0%abv)
BrewDog, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.
330ml glass bottle
Many 25yr olds have drunk enough fizzy lager to wish they could do something about it. Few actually have – but two of those few are James Watt and Martin Dickie, old school friends from Aberdeenshire. They pooled their life savings and bought a ten barrel plant on the Kessock Industrial Estate in Fraserburgh to found BrewDog in April 2007. As you’d expect given their outlook, they produce a wide range of strong beers such as two kinds of imperial stout, one of which is aged in malt whisky casks. They entered some in the 2007 World Beer Awards, and amazingly won two awards – best strong pale ale (The Physics) and best imperial stout (Rip Tide). Today we sample their 9%abv imperial IPA.
What They Say – “Maris Otter grains to provide the robustly delicate toffee malt canvas, and hops to ensure your mouth is left feeling punished and puckering for more.” [Official Website]
What We Say…
MrB – Suck a duck, if you didn’t know it was 9% you’d end up drinking lots of this 9½
Richard – Alcohol/hops complement eachother, it’s tremendous 9
Grooben – Smells of cottage cheese but it certainly tastes good 8
Shovels – Tastes strong, label makes it look like an alcopop 7
BeerCast panel verdict
BrewDog Hardcore IPA – 33½/40
Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA – 29½/40
Deuchars IPA – 25½/40
Colonsay IPA – 24½/40
Panellists – (from top left) Grooben, MrB, Shovels, Richard
- Listen to the episode here: BeerCast #15 – Scottish IPA’s
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We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with another episode. Stay tuned for details…and please leave us comments on the blog or iTunes, or emails. Cheers!