The arrival of tailbacks on the roads and wasps in the parks can mean only one thing – Spring is here. After enduring months of snow, sleet, winds and haar (something we say every year, only this time it actually happened) the weather is taking a turn for the better. Here in Scotland that means average highs in the mid-teens Celsius. So while we all rush to reveal that pale flesh and stick another white pudding on the barbie, beer sales traditionally rocket.
So what to drink? Clearly, avoiding macrolager is the only decent option. But there are so many alternatives out there, it can be something of a muddle. That’s why we’ve compiled another BeerCast guide – to the best of the Spring/Summer seasonals. Just because it’s time to rush to the nearest beer garden/park/roadside verge, doesn’t mean there can’t be a good beer involved somewhere along the line. So put down that oak-aged imperial blackcurrant porter, and pick up a golden session ale. (Whisper it) – it’s not always about the abv…
If you manage to get yourself into that rarest of things – a sunny Scottish beer garden – then what should you select after wandering, blinking, into the pub (which will still have a roaring open fire)? Light, golden beer has a great tradition north of the border, stretching back to the days of Edinburgh Pale Ale and beyond. There are plenty of modern-day equivalents, such as the peerless Fyne Ales Avalanche. Hoppy, refreshing and unbelievably drinkable – it’s the perfect beer garden pint.
Along the same lines, Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted is another corker – one of only two beers from Scotland to win Champion Beer of Britain. A very rare sighting on cask, but Williams Brothers Ceilidh is tremendous when served this way, the slight spicy edge from the bottle mellowing really well on cask. Other great quenchers include Strathaven Summer Glow, Deeside Nechtan and Stewart Brewing Forth Mist – a really underrated wheat beer.
The beauty of bottles is of course the fact that they are portable. Until Scotland truly embraces the canned beer revolution that (if you look very, very hard) is taking place, then the bottle is the best option. Alfresco drinking here usually involves either one of Scotland’s great exports to the world – Irn Bru – or one of the big imports – Buckfast. But if beer is on your wishlist, then dig out that opener and wander along to the nearest green space, with a clinking carrier bag of…
Cairngorm Trade Winds, which has a touch of elderflower to give it that distinctive summery flavour – in my humble opinion it’s one of the few beers that tastes just as good from a bottle as on cask. Inveralmond Ossian is another golden thirstbuster, as is Williams Brothers Harvest Sun. We adore Fyne Ales Jarl here on the BeerCast – but stablemate Hurricane Jack was also bottled for the first time recently, and is just as good. Finally, to rival Trade Winds – what about a bottle of Tryst Blathan? Another zesty elderflower beer that translates as ‘little blossom’ – what could be more Springlike?
Yikes. Keg beer. Well, the majority are pretty much made for good weather – easy drinking, crisp and refreshing, high carbonation. Obviously we’re not going to recommend drinking Fosters, but if something cold is on your radar then what about the two kings of Scottish kegged lager – Harviestoun Schiehallion and Black Isle Organic Blonde? Either would be much more preferable, surely.
Also on the cooler, fizzier side of things we have Stewart Brewing Edinburgh Gold, which has made recent appearances in the capital on keg. Heading along the M8, WEST Hefeweizen is a clovey, banana delight – particularly when drunk outside the Templeton brewery watching the ‘goings on’ in Glasgow Green. Finally, keg fans would be foaming (artificially) at the mouth if we didn’t mention BrewDog – their re-styled, reduced but much improved Punk IPA would make any sunny afternoon much the better.
So what are your ideal summer thirst quenchers? As we move into Easter long weekends and Royal Wedding holidays, what will you be reaching for? South of the border there are many great golden-esque ales that fit the bill – Pictish Brewer’s Gold, York Guzzler, Thornbridge Kipling, Purity Pure Gold, St Peter’s Golden Ale, Ossett Pale Gold etc etc
So many beers…so little sunshine. Drink up!