Three weeks ago we were invited to a focus group tasting for Edinburgh producer Robert Knops, who was keen to follow up his first beer California Common (4.6%) with a more traditionally British style. On the evening, we tasted several variations on the same theme – a bright, Scottish ale with the emphasis on the malt characters. As we’ve said before, Robert contract brews at Traditional Scottish Ales in Bridge of Allan, and manages to fit into their brewing schedule to produce cask and bottle versions of two beers – yesterday having launched the final version of his second beer – Musselburgh Broke (4.5%).
We headed off down to Vino Wines on Comiston Road to chat to Robert, and of course to pick up some bottles of the finished product for review. He was clearly relieved to have everything sorted out, and the final tweaking of the beer completed. The unusual name refers to an old brewing legend of the 1840’s, where an East Lothian drayman accidentally spilled a cask en route to an inn. Rather than own up, he topped up the barrel with Musselburgh stream water and delivered it as normal. Next time round, instead of being rebuked, he was complimented by the innkeeper on the best beer they had ever received. The drayman then owned up to the brewer – who began to put ‘Musselburgh Broke’ into production.
The TSA brewery is located near to the River Allan, so hopefully there’s no stream water in the mix. The beer pours a dark caramel brown with a healthy fizzing carbonation, but loses the head completely and becomes almost totally flat. Aromas coming off are (not surprisingly) malt, with some chocolate, and definite woodiness. The malt flavours start off slightly smoky before the chocolate malts come through on the aftertaste. There’s no hop profile to speak of. At such a sessionable abv there’s also no alcohol coming through, so the finish is quite soft, before a touch of woody astringency at the far end. Musselburgh Broke is another accomplished ale from Robert, who spoke to us about wanting to start ramping up the strength in his future beers – we’ll have to watch with interest.