As it’s Friday again, let’s power up the spotlight and point it at another in my series of 52 unsung Scottish beers to try. There are so many amazing new things on offer north of the border, but whilst the brewing scene here continues to go from strength to strength it means the classics are worth seeking out more than ever. So with this weekly series I’m suggesting a beer every Friday to unearth and add to your drinking collection. Since kicking off with Fyne Ales Highlander and last week Swannay Old Norway, for the third instalment we are heading back south into the Scottish Borders.
If you look at the oldest breweries in Scotland that are still operating, there aren’t many on the list before you reach Broughton Ales. Belhaven, the Caledonian, the Wellpark Brewery in Glasgow, Traquair House. And then, just on the cusp of the 1980’s, Broughton appeared. Co-founded by David Younger (of the brewing dynasty) and James Collins they have changed hands a couple of times, but their range of beers that feature characters of Scottish legend have remained. And in that range you’ll find one of the true unsung heroes – Broughton Old Jock.
3. Old Jock Ale (6.7%)
Broughton Ales, Broughton, Scottish Borders
Style: Scotch/Red Ale
500 ml bottle
The concept of beer styles is a relatively recent arrival (in brewing terms), and it’s interesting that two of the first three of my weekly picks have straddled several of the more commonly-recognised styles. Just as Fyne’s Highlander is part bitter, part Scottish Export, Broughton’s Old Jock has elements of the Scotch Ale, a bit of the classic Red and more than a hint of barley wine about it. That’s proof that it’s not just modern craft beer that blurs the boundaries (as well as proof that styles are only really a guideline). Old Jock is a fantastic beer, and one that combines a depth of flavour with an inviting ruby colour unsurpassed by any other from a Scottish brewery – it has to be one of the best-looking I’ve ever seen.
The food pairing the guys at Broughton suggest for Old Jock is strong cheeses – and they aren’t kidding. This would stand up to anything you could throw at a port – the flavours of raisins and dark stone fruit, particularly plums, really make that a great suggestion. There’s a grainy bitterness around the edges, and a slight spice from the Bramling Cross and Perle hops (also in the brew is the quintessential English one-two-three of Challenger, Fuggles and First Gold). It has a sweetness about it, almost like candied oranges, but nothing comes across as cloying because there is a terrific balance going on. Old Jock is lovely, and should you see it in your local supermarket, walk past it at your peril.
Pick it up here:
At Broughton’s online shop (as a case of 8 500ml bottles)