Wednesday 30 September 2009

Heather & Spice & All Things Nice

I have been horribly, horribly remiss recently - the nice people at Williams Bros. have sent me a couple of boxes of beer and, whilst I've loved every minute of drinking them, I've sucked at writing them up - so firstly apologies for that guys!

Now, if you don't know about this brewing bretheren, they are slightly crazy blokes form Scotland who like to make beers with things like heather (Fraoch, 5%) and gooseberries (Grozet, 5%) and tayberries (Roisin, 4.2%) - but they also make some very technically accomplished and extremely tasty beers of a slightly less historic nature, but generally with a twist somewhere.

One of my personal favourites is the 7 Giraffes (5.1%), which is made with seven different malts, elderflower and lemon zest. There is a decent body to the beer, it's not all about the aromatics, with a light bicuity note that perfectly offsets the light lemon and slightly astringent, but delicately floral, elderflower.

As you would expect it is intensely refreshing and just made for quaffing on a summer's day (or a winter's evening when you wish to evoke those past days of balmy weather). I must confess that I'm also being a bit of an old softy about this; the reason it's called 7 Giraffes is that one of the brewer's children pointed out to her dad that a giraffe looked like a 7, and they do at certain angles!

My next big favourite is the Midnight Sun (5.6%), which is a deep, dark sticky porter made with fresh ginger root. The underlying dark bitter chocolate, coffee and liquorice is lightened by the quite strong, yet balanced, flavour of ginger, which also gives a little spicy warming feeling to the beer as well, can imagine this going really well with a dry curry of some sort.

I also very much like the 80/- that the brewery makes too - it's a good hearty representation of the style that is mostly a showcase for the brewer's art with the malts; good deep marmaladey, jammy fruity malt flavours pervade with just enough bitterness to stop it becoming overwhelming, a real Friday night wind-down beer.

I will also be posting about the special edition of their wood-aged Fraoch after the weekend, looks damn good I must confess...


Barry M said...

They make some lovely beers all right. And yes, I thought their Fraoch Anniversary edition was very nice indeed. Would have loved to have a bottle to age a bit

Anonymous said...

You know, I always knew there were cart loads of beer out there but I had no idea there were so many interesting ones!

Sup, sup.

Kat said...

I love Fraoch and would be ecstatic to try the wood-aged. Doubt it'll make it to Florida, though. Sigh. I've never seen any of their non-historic beers, either. That midnight Sun sounds phenomenal.

Barry M said...

You might see it there, Kat. They only made 7500 bottles, but 5000 are heading to the US, or so they told me.

mooch said...

Just thought that I would do a drive-by.

You haven't tasted ale until you have visited the micro brewery, West Berkshire Brewery in Yattendon which I note (by searching at any rate) is not referenced on your blog. Good Old Boy and Mags Magnificent are my particular favourites. G.O.B. has a very well rounded flavour, no lemony bitterness on the finish but not too sweet either. The flavour oozes out of every pint. I now find myself driving the twenty miles from Oxford to buy the bottles, which of course never beat cask ale but are good nonetheless (unlike TT's - Landlord which is ghastly out of the bottle).

If you would like to sit in the comfort of a traditional pub yet still savour the delightful ales of West Berkshire Brewery visit either:

The Bell Inn, Aldworth

Pot Kiln, Yattendon.

Believe me, well worth the journey plus you can make amends for such an unforgivable omission from your blog.


Melissa Cole said...

There are hundreds of unforgiveable omissions on my blog, of which this is one! I shall do my best to get to West Berkshire in the not too distant and write something about it soon, I promise.

Alistair Reece said...

I had a beer at the weekend, which I'll be blogging about sometime this week, which purports to be made to an authentic recipe using spruce tips - apparently the recipe was a favourite of Benjamin Franklin.

I am looking forward to finding some Fraoch over here in Virginia, one of my favourite beers from back home!

erik.ellestad said...

Is any of this available at retail in CA? Very fond of Heather beers and would really like to give this one a try.

mooch said...

Good to hear Melissa. I will be interested to read your verdict.

Another is Loddon Brewery but I'm not much of a fan.