Beer of the Week – Tempest Old Parochial

As the weekend is just about around the corner (or here right now if you have an understanding boss) it is time for the latest in my series of the fifty-two unsung heroes of Scottish brewing. These are the beers I feel are underlooked, both up here and in the wider UK, and deserve to be in your drinking cupboard for when that two-day holiday appears on the horizon.

This time around it is another beer from Tempest in the Borders – but very different from the Easy Livin’ Pils that featured in week five of this series, back at the start of February. For the back end of September this particular choice is more suited to the kind of weather we have been having lately – not exactly cold enough for stouts, but not warm enough for anything hop led. In short, it’s Scotch Ale season and to celebrate, you won’t regret selecting the best one in the country.

38. Old Parochial (10.0%)
Tempest Brewing, Tweedbank
Style: Scotch Ale
330ml bottle

Pick it up here:
At Tempest’s online shop (as individual 330ml bottles)

First brewed five years ago, this is a quasi-imperial Scotch with a bit of Wee Heavy thrown in and is deep, dark reddish brown with a first sip that hits you like a caber landing on your foot. It’s enormously boozy, sweet, oaky and has every fruit you can stew and eat warm that you can think of. Fermented out with two different yeast strains, the bourbon-barrel ageing and also the use of smoked malt give this beer as many flavours as you’d ever wish for in a beer. It’s a riot from start to finish and and absolute stone cold classic. It’s one of the best beers of any style to come out of Scotland, ever.

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

Beer of the Week – Loch Lomond Southern Summit

It’s another weekend and – slightly later than usual – here’s the latest in my series of the fifty-two unsung beers in Scottish brewing. Every Friday (and one Sunday) throughout 2017 I’ll be taking a closer look at a single beer I believe deserves to get a lot more love – and at the very least should be in your drinking cupboard or fridge. I’m on the road this week but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a beer waiting for me when I get home.

And that beer is Loch Lomond’s Southern Summit. To be fair, it’s another that stretches the definition of ‘unsung’ having being named SIBA National Champion on cask last year, and winning several other awards along the way. But I’d wager few people would be able to recite the awards it has won – even if Loch Lomond are now the undisputed CAMRA/SIBA champs (Silkie Stout is the current CAMRA Champion Beer of Scotland) and taking the crown from Swannay who dominated the annual real ale-run contests for much of the early part of this decade. There’s a simple reason why – their beers are outstanding.

37. Southern Summit (4.0%)
Loch Lomond, Alexandria
Style: Pale Ale
500ml bottle

Pick it up here:
At Scottish Real Ale’s online shop (as individual 500ml bottles)

This beer is a full-on citrus bomb – the closest I’ve had to date from north of the border that challenges the standout #1 (in my eyes), Fyne Ales Jarl. Like that beer, this one has Citra in, but unlike it there’s the addition of Summit – and this particular hop brings the Alpha Acid in abundance. It’s a fantastic one-two combo with the prime agent making the beer refreshing and arresting in equal measure, and the Citra there to back it up with that classic grapefruit and lemon flavour. It’s a tremendous beer, and I can’t think of a better way to wave goodbye to the Scottish summer and turn attention towards darker things – both in terms of the weather and beers. Southern Summit is worthy of all the awards it has received, and then some.

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

Beer of the Week – Fierce Beer Cranachan Killer

Friday is upon us once again and it’s time for another recommendation from my growing list of unsung Scottish beers to sample. Each and every Friday throughout 2017 I will be turning the spotlight towards a beer produced here north of the border that I feel deserves just a little more recognition. It’s too good to not be loved by as many people as possible. So the end of the week means another beery tip!

This time around it is a pale ale – but this one is unlike any other pale ale I’ve suggested so far, or indeed tried so far. From Dyce in Aberdeenshire, Fierce Beer have grown their reputation on piling flavour into their releases like few other breweries around. They are so prolific – and growing fast – that you’d do well to keep up with what they have on offer. And when it comes to their raspberry pale ale – you’d do very well indeed. I’m talking about the amazing Cranachan Killer.

36. Cranachan Killer (5.5%)
Fierce Beer, Dyce, Aberdeenshire
Style: Pale Ale
330ml bottle

Pick it up here:
At Fierce Beer’s online shop (as individual 330ml bottles)

We need to talk about the colour. This beer is a deep, pinkish red that just looks like a raspberry juicebomb. And yet it isn’t – because as the name suggests this is Fierce’s take on that most Scottish of desserts. They brewed an oatmeal pale ale and added raspberries and the sensation is every bit like dunking a spoon into the quintessential post-wedding pud. The oats give the creaminess and the raspberries the sharpness. The beer comes out sweet, fruity and incredibly surprising and is one of the most unsung beers you could find anywhere in the UK at the moment. It’s a real belter.

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

Beer of the Week – Black Metal Gates of Valhalla

Another week in the books and it’s time for a beer. Just one, mind, as the attention turns to this week’s recommendation in my continuing series of the most under-rated beers being produced by Scottish breweries at the moment. There are so many emanating from north of the border from the 150+ beermakers we have now – tracking each and every one down is nigh on impossible. The best way to approach it is one at a time.

So every Friday this year I’ll be doing just that. Shining a spotlight on a great beer I believe deserves to be in your drinking cupboard and letting you know where you can get hold of it online. For this edition – the 35th – I am looking at a beer produced in exactly the same building as the one last week (Top Out’s amazing Altbier), as this brewery operates in the same premises. But they are very, very different. In fact, Jaan Ratsep and his Black Metal Brewery are about as different as any other brewery you can think of. And that also holds true for his beer. Like the inestimable Gates of Valhalla.

35. Gates of Valhalla (7.9%)
Black Metal Brewery, Loanhead
Style: Pale Ale
500ml bottle

Pick it up here:
At Alesela online shop (as individual 500ml bottles)

First up, the beer is anything unlike a pale ale I’ve had for a while. With added oatmeal you get creaminess and body – and then the fact that it comes in at almost 8% means that it looks, smells and tastes very much like a barley wine. So much so, that if you handed it to me and told me it was a pale ale I wouldn’t believe you. I also wouldn’t really care. Gates of Valhalla – where Jaan told me he wanted to end up when his time comes, back when I interviewed him is one mighty beast.

Firstly that alcohol – it’s barely there, just a lingering presence at the end, which is a surprise given the intensity of the aged-like character the rest of the flavours give you. There’s a big woodsy, earthiness to the beer – as well as a sweeter toffee and stewed fruits element to it. And then, just when you can’t really hit on the bracket you want to put it into, the alcohol eventually arrives and hits you with its warmth. I’ve no idea really what Gates of Valhalla is, but I know I like it.

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

Beer of the Week – Top Out Altbier

Friday means many things to many different people, depending largely on what you have planned for the weekend to come. For me it always means that the first item of business is to shine a light on another beer I feel is just not getting the full amount of love it deserves. That’s all relative of course, but this series is taking a look at the fifty-two beers I consider to be the most unsung in Scotland.

To round out the last full week of August – where does the time go – I’m going to talk about a German beer brewed just outside Edinburgh. One of the great things about the rise of craft beer, whether you choose to use the phrase or run a mile from it – is the fact that brewers now seem to have more freedom than ever to create new and different beers from all of the great brewing nations on earth. Except in this case, the connection is very real. The Beer of the Week this week is Top Out’s amazingly good Altbier.

34. Altbier (4.5%)
Top Out Brewery, Loanhead
Style: Alt
500ml bottle

Pick it up here:
At Alesela online shop (as individual 500ml bottles)

Alt means old in German, and these beers are true historic examples from the banks of the Rhine. And one of the great things about this particular example is the direct link between the country of origin and the man who created the beer. Top Out’s co-founder Michael Hopert hails from Germany and so you would expect would be able to nail one of his homeland’s quintessential beers. And you’d be absolutely right on the money.

Top Out’s Altbier is rich, doughy and well-balanced, holding that must-have clean smoothness that depicts the style. That’s because these beers are fermented with ale yeast, but at lower temperatures than for the majority of their counterparts, and extended lagering really makes them skim across the palate. So think a classic best bitter combined with a California Common but with spicy, bready noble hops and a bittersweet herbal edge. It’s such an easy beer to drink and an absolute pleasure from start to finish. This is an incredible beer on cask and a real find, if you happen to seek it out.

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

Beer of the Week – Black Isle Porter

The weekend is once again nearly upon us – or upon you today if you have a very understanding boss. Thoughts invariably turn towards a beer or two for the days of downtime ahead. But with so many to choose from, where should you turn? Well, this is where this series of blog posts come in. Every weekend throughout 2017 I will be detailed a single beer for your enjoyment, if you haven’t had the pleasure of trying it already.

With so much amazing beer emanating from Scottish breweries it is easy to get lost. That’s why I’ll be shining a light on a single unsung release from north of the border each week, letting you know how and where you can get hold of it. For the full list to date, simply scroll down to the bottom of the page and select a beer you like the sound of or a style you fancy. For today’s entry we have one of the best porters to come out of – not just Scotland – but any part of the UK. Black Isle Porter.

33. Black Isle Organic Porter (4.6%)
Black Isle, Munlochy
Style: Porter
330ml bottle

Pick it up here:
At Black Isle’s online shop (as individual 330ml bottles)

What do you want from a Porter? I guess it’s up to the individual but for me to be a classic example of the style it needs to have three things. Firstly, a big kick of roasty flavour to give the beer a lift. Like a campfire but not smoky, a coffee but without the caffeine kick and overdone toast without the fire alarm going off.

It also needs an overall smoothness, to balance this out. So relaxing, embracing and easy to drink. A character that would make it amazing on cask, equally as good from the bottle and would stand up to keg serves. Finally, it needs to have something else. A hit of dark fruit from the hops, say. Or liqourice. An earthy spice maybe. Well Black Isle Porter has all of these things. It really is that good – and is a beer you should seek out asap.

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

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