Friday, January 25, 2013

Rabbie Burns does us proud

The first beer festival of 2013, and one of my favourites. This weekend the Navigation at Mirfield has opened its doors to a Scottish beer festival. I took a look to see what was on offer. I did not exactly get what I expected. I thought that there would be a few common Scottish beers intermingling with other beers from around the country. I was gobsmacked to see, on my arrival, nearly 40 beers from breweries all over Scotland. From breweries old and new, and with beers of all styles represented. All the beers were on hand pull, all were cellar cooled, and irrespective of  strength, all were priced at £2.60. Which is far cheaper than they would be on their home soil.

All I needed now was where to start. Generally, I start with the weaker beers or the new breweries. I had plenty of each to choose from. Fallen Brewery was the newest and their '1703' was an excellent starting point, light, hoppy and 3.9%. I followed this with 'Due South' from Strathbraan. Another light beer with citrus undertones. Nothing of the typical Scottish styles yet then. These new breweries seem to know how to use hops. Beers from Alechemy, and the Kinneil Brew Hoose were sampled and were again in good form, and had plenty of hop character. It was time to go a bit stronger and darker, and having heard good things of both Loch Lomond 'Silkie Stout' and Tryst 'Double Chocolate Porter' I opted for the former. A very good stout, from another brewery new to me, and silky smooth. My beer of the festival was from another new brewery, Demonbrew. They have been brewing in Prestonpans since 2011, and their 'Pacific Kick', at 5.4% the strongest beer I sampled, was a revelation. With a hoppy nose, it promised an astringent hop hit, but it tasted perfectly balanced with the malt and hops coming together in a superb IPA style beer.

Well, I had exhausted my new brewery list. I had only had six. So it was time to try out some of the other offerings. There were 10 beers from Tryst and 9 from Kelburn, so it seemed churlish to overlook them. I sampled 'Hop Trials' and 'Pils' from the former, and 'Misty Law' from the latter, and all reinforced my opinion that these Scots can certainly brew. All that was left was to sample another beer before my train, and I selected another Strathbraan offering 'Head East', which was excellent.

The festival runs through until Sunday, being open from 1200 noon each day, and is well worth a look.  There are a couple of Caledonian beers if you want the traditional Scottish style, and plenty of Theakstons as well if that is your thing !! Thanks must go to Kev for his selection of beers, and Tryst, who helped him source them, and the team at the pub for making it such a friendly event. All I need now is an excuse to return !  

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