Beer of the Week – Williams Bros Nollaig

Posted by on Dec 22, 2017 in Beer of the Week | No Comments

Not long to go with the year-long journey through the most unsung beers Scotland produces – so with just two left it’s time to roll out the big guns. Next Friday the series concludes with the single Scottish beer I consider to be the most under-rated; but before that there’s time to fit in a festive version of this post with the fifty-first of fifty-two, a seasonal release that deserves to be in the line-up of this brewery year-round.

Christmas beers often have a range of spices in their arsenal but surely the quintessential festive ingredient is the lesser-used spruce tips. What’s more Christmassy than Christmas trees? This particular beer revels in the resins, pairing the actual thing (from the spruce tips) with the hop-derived (from Centennial, with Citra and Goldings also on hand). When it comes to brewing with these arboreal ingredients, there are no masters of the art that can hold a branch to the Brotherhood from Alloa. The penultimate unsung Scottish beer is the fascinating Williams Bros Nollaig.

51. Nollaig (7.0%)
Williams Bros, Alloa
Style: Spruce IPA
330ml bottle

Pick it up here:
From the Fine Wine Company online (as 1 Litre growler)
(also available in 330ml bottles from local Aldi stores in Scotland and from Williams Bros online store – although currently out of stock)

Sure, you don’t get many Spruce IPAs – but if you had to rank them this would be at the very top of that small piece of paper. It’s a masterpiece. The spruce tips – not pine, as in the case of Williams Bros’s other tree-based throwback Alba – are harvested green and introduced into the boil in a giant herbal teabag. The effect it has on the beer is incredible – a true example of the brewers’ art of complementary flavour.

The natural piney, woodsy notes from Centennial and Goldings (respectively) – with a fair dash of citrus from Citra – play off beautifully with the oily resin from the spruce tips. It’s not for the faint of heart – this is a thought-provoking, perfumed floral thing of wonder. There’s some light caramel, tea-like tannins and then the faintest tingle of spruce. It casts your mind back to how beers likely used to be, and where they have ended up. Nollaig is amazing, and if it weren’t so Christmas-themed a perfect year-round beer. Hell with it, trees grow 24/7 so this beer should be available then as well.

Beer of the Week Series:
1. Fyne Ales Highlander
2. Swannay Old Norway
3. Broughton Old Jock
4. Traquair House Ale
5. Tempest Easy Livin Pils
6. Cromarty Brewed Awakening
7. Fallen Chew Chew
8. Black Isle Hibernator
9. Isle of Skye Red
10. Harviestoun Old Engine Oil Engineer’s Reserve
11. Orkney Skull Splitter
12. Windswept Wolf
13. Kelburn Dark Moor
14. Alechemy 5ive Sisters
15. Loch Ness Light Ness
16. St Andrews Eighty Bob
17. Harviestoun The Ridge
18. Orkney Dark Island
19. Williams Bros Seven Giraffes
20. Cairngorm Black Gold
21. Strathaven Craigmill Mild
22. Black Isle Red Kite
23. Spey Valley Spey Stout
24. Top Out Schmankerl
25. Cross Borders Braw
26. Williams Bros Midnight Sun
27. BrewDog Kingpin
28. Fyne Ales Hurricane Jack
29. Deeside MacBeth
30. Drygate Ax Man Red Rye IPA
31. Swannay Orkney Session
32. Fallen Platform C
33. Black Isle Porter
34. Top Out Altbier
35. Black Metal Gates of Valhalla
36. Fierce Beer Cranachan Killer
37. Loch Lomond Southern Summit
38. Tempest Old Parochial
39. Williams Bros Profanity Stout
40. Windswept Tornado
41. Campervan Pacific Zest
42. Swannay Sneaky Wee Orkney Stout
43. Cromarty Ghost Town
44. Fyne Ales Vital Spark
45. Knops Musselburgh Broke
46. Orkney Red MacGregor
47. Cross Borders Porter
48. BrewDog Jack Hammer
49. six°north Hop Classic
50. Stewart Brewing Cauld Reekie

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