Showing posts with label scottish ale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label scottish ale. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tradition Ale

There are some things that I assume lovers of beer are aware of. I assume that people know that pilsner is more than shorthand for pale lager, whether figuratively or literally, for example. I would love to be able to assume that people know that the word 'ale' does not mean 'top-fermented beer', or at least, that it didn't many moons ago.

If you are, like me, an avid reader of Martyn Cornell's wonderful blog, Zythophile, you will know that that the word , as opposed to that foreign 'beer' muck that had hops in it. Eventually hops made their way into every form of malt liquor that warmed the cockles of the native English speaker, but only to the degree that ale was less hopped than beer.

Recently, as I pottered around a local bottle shop, I decided to get myself some ales that are light on the hops, but heavy on other bittering agents. Thus is was that I ended up with bottles of Williams Bros Grozet, Fraoch, Alba, and Kelpie in my fridge, and last night I polished them off.


First up of the four ales was Grozet, brewed with probably my favourite fruit, gooseberries. As you can see from the picture, the glass is a hand blown affair that I bought in Williamsburg a few years ago, pours a pale yellow though you can't see the firm white head. In terms of aroma, we're talking a light breadiness, some honeyed notes and a noticeable fruitiness which reminds me of gooseberry fool. The aromas blend on into the taste side of things as well. While the ale does have hops in it, there are really not that noticeable, but the bogmyrtle helps to balance the sweetness of the malt, making it a nice, easy drinking brew.


Fraoch heather ale is legendary, and was one of the first non-macro ales to cross my lips. I remember it well, I was home in Uist after my first year in Prague and after a year of drinking Czech lager for come reason Caffreys didn't do it for me anymore. Fraoch pours a slightly hazy dark straw, topped with a fluffy white head that sits and sits. Aroma wise we're talking a hefty earthy, floral smell, backed up with a sweetness which reminds me of my mother's tablet. In tasting,  we're back on familiar malty ground, think a fresh scone from the over, smeared with honey and you're somewhere close, but then with a long, dry, crisp finish. Did I mention yet that this is one of my favourite beers?


According to the label, Alba is an ale brewed with pine and spruce, based on a recipe that was popular in the Highlands until the 19th century. I was expecting a very different beer to the one was poured a beautiful light copper, capped with a nice ivory head. For some reason, I expected the aroma to remind me of an American style IPA, redolent with the pine resin that goes hand in hand with grapefruit. What I got though was more of a Seville orange marmelade with just a touch of pine in the background. Tastewise the dominant flavour was one of chewy toffee and just enough bitterness to balance the malt and avoid it being cloying. Definitely the kind of beer to sit next to the fire with in the depths of winter.


There is a beach on my home island of Benbecula known as 'Stinky Bay' for the piles of rotting seaweed strewn across the bay. My dad is an avid gardener, and in continuing an old Highland tradition, would dump seaweed on his vegetable beds to add nutrients and make the thin soil fertile. Using seaweed as fertilizer would have given the ales of coastal Scotland a distinct brininess, which is really difficult to explain as anything other than the taste of sea air. Marry that aroma and flavour with the sweet, almost smokiness, of chocolate malt and you have a complex brew that would pair wonderfully with a rain driven winter's day, next to the fire, and with a side of Lagavulin...I can see Kelpie becoming a regular in the cellar this winter.


Sometimes it seems as though the beer world these days is obsessed with more, and the latest, hops, Just now and again though it is nice to take a step back in time and enjoy something a little more traditionale.

Friday, August 10, 2012

BreakFast Time!

I haven't had a drink for 12 days now. Yes, I am on my annual, post Daytona Beach beer fast, though this year it is forming just part of a bigger program to get myself back down to my 2009 weight, and once that happens perhaps I will keep going until I reach my 2007 vintage.

The beer fast itself though will come to an end tomorrow as it is the Dominion Cup and I have volunteered to judge - though at the time of writing I still don't know what categories. Even though the beer fast will be broken, I have a plan to avoid the booze effecting me too much too soon, involving a nice greasy fry-up and a pint of whole milk. This weekend could also see the return of brewing, depending on what the wife is doing on Sunday.

With this being my first brewday in the new house I have decided that I will do a double header to see the difference between my well water and the usual purified water I use from the shop. I am hoping that my well water makes good beer and thus cuts a cost from my brewing (did I mention that I am quite cheap?). To test the water I will be brewing my autumn beer, which in keeping with the spirit of my post on Wednesday will be ready around the time of the Vernal Equinox (the middle of autumn in the UK, the beginning in the US). My autumnal beer for this beer is an 80/- "Scottish" ale using the following recipe:
  • 96% Golden Promise Pale Malt
  • 4% Roasted Barley
  • 15 IBU Fuggles for 60 minutes
  • 5 IBU Kent Goldings for 15 minutes
  • Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale Yeast
I won't be engaging in any spurious techniques like boiling down some wort to make an intense maltiness, or adding peated malt to get that smokiness which is wrongly considered part of the style by some. Nope, this will hopefully be another session beer to enjoy when the days of steady rain finally arrive.

Friday, April 13, 2012

International Homebrew Project - The Drinking

It was eight weeks ago that I mashed my grains, added my dry malt extract to bump up the gravity and chucked in a shitload of hops into a kettle to make a mild, a Scottish mild no less, for the International Homebrew Project. Based on a 19th century recipe from the William Younger's brewery for a 120/- ale, my wort was 1.110 (about 26° Plato). By the end of the boil, having added judicious amounts of Kent Goldings and Fuggles, the estimated IBU rating of the beer was 93, so much for Scottish beers being "traditionally" low on hops. Once primary fermentation had slowed to barely a flicker, I dumped my dry hops into the carboy and then bottled a week later. For 6 weeks now the beer has say conditioning...


Finally the time had come to open a bottle and see what had become of the beer, and with that reassuring pffft that is every homebrewers favourite sound I popped off the cap and poured.


I was kind of surprised at the colour of the beer, a deep, entrancing amber which failed to form a head, though swirling the glass after the initial mouthful produced a decent layer of firm, whipped cream type foam. The aroma was a heady mix of grass, spice, perhaps a touch of tobacco and a little background alcohol. Drinking it though was quite a shock, thoroughly, thoroughly bitter, but at the same time a juicy malt biscuity thing make sure the hops didn't rip my tongue out and stomp all over it. The finish was long, as in progressive rock guitar solo long, and bitter, puckering while not being like sucking a lemon. Goodness me, what a lovely beer! The body was positively voluptuous, the mouthfeel a sensual satiny smoothness, like melted chocolate, goodness me this is a beer that could get me into trouble, so dangerously, and temptingly, delicious it is.


All in all I very happy with how this one turned out, and I am planning to enter it in the Dominion Cup later this year, probably in Category 23, and also in the Strong Ale category of the Palmetto State Brewers Open, in the meantime, I might just have another over the weekend.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

International Homebrew Project Reminder

For those that took part in the brewing of the historic Scottish ale, remember to blog about it tomorrow, please remember to put a link to your post in the comments section after my post tomorrow.


If you brewed the recipe but don't blog, feel free to leave tasting notes and any comments about the beer in the comments after my post tomorrow.

I am really looking forward to this beer when I get home from work tonight...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Love the Brethren

As you most likely know, I lived in Prague for ten years before moving over to the States in 2009. During that decade, I made it home to Scotland all of 4 times, the last trip being in 2005. Those were the days of drinking the smoothflow ales I wrote about a few posts ago, although I also managed to develop a taste for Fraoch. I enjoyed it because had the flavours that I liked in an ale coupled with the drinkability of a lager.


Coming closer to the present, I have been on something of a William Bros Brewing jag of late. During my trip to Wine Warehouse, where I picked up the cans for the smoothflow tasting, I also got a couple of bottles of their Heavy and Midnight Sun porter as well as a new beer for me, Scottish Session.

I have long liked the Heavy, which I believe in the UK is known as 80/-, it's deep russet colour and fluffy white head reminding me of drinking with friends on the Byers Road in Glasgow on the way from Birmingham when I was a student. Aromas of toffee, cocoa and a little grassiness with flavours of caramel nicely balanced with a delicate bitterness and only 4.2% abv, making it insanely drinkable. Likewise with the inky blackness of Midnight Sun, a porter brewed with ginger. Lots of roasty aromas and flavours abound, with a spicy zing in the finish. It's fair to say that I had great expectations for the Session.

I was not to be disappointed, and admittedly I was thrilled to see the abv was "only" 3.9%. Thrilled because I actually enjoy drinking beer rather than needing an age to get through a single 12oz bottle of something stronger. The Session, which I think is called "
On Friday I swung by
Beer Run in the hope of getting some altbier to compare my homebrew version with something commercial, but they didn't have any so I picked up some other stuff, including their Joker IPA. My introduction to Joker came when Beer Run had it on cask, and what a delight it was. The bottled version is just as good, packing a hefty hop punch but with a solid malty backbone and a mouthfeel that suggested the silkiness of a touch of oats in the grist, this is just lovely, lovely beer.

I can see this Williams Bros jag carrying on for quite some time to be honest. Packed with flavour and balanced beautifully for drinkability rather than sensory abuse, the guys in Alloa are getting things right and are, in my as ever unhumble opinion, probably brewing the best Scottish beers that are available in the States right now.

Monday, February 27, 2012

#BrewdayIHP

Generally speaking I brew on a Saturday. Mrs V goes running on Saturday mornings and so I try to have my mash started by 7am, half past at the latest. Starting early means finishing before lunchtime and having the rest of the weekend to just lounge around, I also usually do the laundry while the wife is out, productive wee bunny that I am on occasion. This Saturday was no different other than it being the prescribed weekend for those of us taking part in the International Homebrew Project.


To my knowledge, homebrewers from the US, UK, Ireland and Latvia took part this year, if anyone from anywhere else brewed then please let me know. The beer, as I have mentioned several times, was a recreation of a 120/- beer from Edinburgh's Wm Younger's Brewery in 1853. Despite the hugeness of the beer, over 9% and at least 90 IBU, this was a beer for drinking young, or "mild" to use the parlance of the day.


I posted my exact recipe on Friday, though my actual hopping was slightly different due to a higher alpha acid rating on the Kent Goldings I bought that afternoon. Usually I use a single ounce for my hopping, not being a massive hophead, so chucking 4 packets of hops in total into the kettle left a lot of hop sludge as you can imagine! I also missed the target gravity of 1.114, coming in at 1.110  instead, though if the Beer Calculus tool on Hopville is correct, the dry Windsor yeast currently doing a number on the fermentables will produce a beer with 10.5% abv.


Just a quick note to the other brewers, I have adjusted the schedule slightly, and now plan to do a write up on how the beer turns out on Friday April 13th rather than the first week in April. Being such a big beer I want to give it just a little time in the bottle.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Brewheart

Scottish beer. You know all about Scottish beer I am sure. Sweet, malty and not very hoppy because it was so expensive to ship hops from one end of the United Kingdom to the other. You know that Scottish beer has a peaty element because of the water, although using peated malt is something of a no-no, but then you also know that an awful lot of craft brewers add a dash, just in case. Oh, and of course, Scottish beer has to involve kilts in the name, Kilt Lifters abound - you could say kilt lifting is the American craft brewing scene's equivalent of the abominations to be found on Pumpclip Parade.


The last few weeks have been a pleasure seeing these daft stereotypes ripped to pieces by the double team of Shut Up About Barclay Perkins! and I Might Have A Glass of Beer. Through a series of maps and analyses, the myth of Scottish brewing has been laid bare and savaged.

The highlight for me though has been the recipes that Ron has been posting, all from the 19th century and all of them with significant IBU ratings, ranging from 47 to 113. As a reference, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale has 37 IBU, Pilsner Urquell 40 and Devils Backbone's 8 Point IPA 60. At 113 IBU, the No. 3 from Wm Younger in 1868 was more potent in the hop department than Starr Hill's Double Platinum, which weighs in at 90.

You know that thing about Scottish ales being unhoppy (according to the BJCP guidelines the tops a Scottish ale can be is 35 IBU) because of the expense of moving hops from one end of the United Kingdom to the other? Well, that's also complete bollocks. 

The majority of the hopping in the recipes from the 1860s were Saaz, from Bohemia, as in the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time. Now, unless there was some special deal between Scotland and Bohemia on the basis of the Winter Queen, I am pretty sure import tariffs, transportation and logistics in the 19th century would have made copious amounts of Saaz hops somewhat more pricey than copious amounts of East Kent Goldings. Did we mention the copious amounts of hops going into Scottish beer in the 19th century yet? Oh, yes we did, 3rd paragraph for those that missed it.

From the work that has gone into a series of superb posts, I think it is a pretty clear that the myth of Scottish brewing seems to have been dreamed up by the same guys that did the historical research involved in Braveheart.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hurray for Session Beer

I sometimes get the feeling that the term "session beer" is becoming a catch all phrase for those beers which are none of the following:

  • hopped so insanely that blindfolded you would be unable to tell grapefruit juice from beer
  • includes some strange ingredient or method which is this month's "innovation"
  • backed up by some trendy marketing gimmick
It is almost as though the very term "session beer" is the tippler's equivalent of "meh". Now, I am perfectly prepared to accept that my hermeneutics of other people's texts and utterings is wrong, a touch too much of hermenteutics of suspicion?
The notion then that a low alcohol beer could possibly be interesting is alien to many a ticker and tippler mind it would seem, especially on this side of the, rather turbulent of late, Pond. Evidently such people have never been to Devils Backbone. Yes, I wrote a few posts about DB a few weeks back, but yesterday afternoon Mrs Velkyal and I drove that way for some afternoon refreshment and as it was a cheat day on our healthier living efforts, have a burger and chips.

Mrs V wasn't in a booze mood, perhaps still recovering from rowing 13 miles round an island on Saturday, and I took one look at the menu and knew I wanted Ale of Fergus. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me, so please use your imagination. What arrived at our table was a deep crimson beer, topped with a light tan head, which was at least an inch thick. What left the table about 7 minutes later was an empty glass, with plenty of lacing and a request to our waitress to haste ye back with more! Good? Bloody hell it was marvelous! I am sure I could wax lyrical about toffee and cocoa notes and the merest hint of spicy hops, but why, when it was the sheer pleasure the beer bought me which is the abiding memory?

I have mentioned at least once before that I love those times when a beer hits the spot so perfectly that it takes you back, like Anton Ego in Ratatouille, to childhood. That's how this beer was when I shoved my face into it to get a good sniff - straight back to the Sergeants' Mess bar and the smell of beer and tobacco. I think the second pint was polished off with just as much aplomb as the first. Then the third, then the fourth and one final one before driving the long way home, just to see it was any different from driving the equally long way home.

As I said to the barman yesterday, there is only thing which would have improved the beer for me yesterday - being served on cask. Given though that all Devils Backbone beers are naturally carbonated using the spunding method, I wonder how much difference it would actually make.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the abv on this treasure. 4%. Yes you are reading that correctly, 4%. Bursting with flavour, easy and smooth to drink and only 4%. Hurray for session beer, hurray for Devils Backbone!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Homebrew Log part 2

I mentioned on Monday that I had swapped some homebrew samples with James from A Homebrew Log. In addition to the IHP Pale Ale which was the original cause of the swap, we traded some other beers, in my case I gave him a 22oz bottle of Gael 80/-, LimeLight and a 12oz bottle of Black Rose. Coming the other way were 12oz bottles of James's Cider, Chili Lager, Apple Ale, Peter McCotton 80/- and Imperial Walker Texas Ranger Stout.

Last night I decided to try the ales from the collection, leaving the lager and cider to chill down in the fridge for a day or so, to be written about at some later date (probably a rare weekend post). First up was the Apple Ale, the recipe for which was inspired by a German drink called Graff, 80% cider, 20% amber beer.


As you can see from the picture, it is a nice golden colour, bordering on a light amber, topped off with a loose white head that thinned out rather quickly. I had no idea what to expect with this, other than a prevalence of apples on both the nose and in the mouth, and so it turned out to be. Behind the apples though was a very gentle sweet maltiness which added body to the liquid, I can't work out whether to call this a beer or what! On a hot, hot day, and yesterday is Charlottesville was a bloody hot, hot day, this chilled down was beautifully refreshing and something I plan to brew in the future, though possibly as a candidate for mulling in the depths of winter.

Following the Graff was Peter McCotton 80/-, an export ale in the Scottish style, which to look at was very similar to my Gael 80/-.


This one was definitely a beer! A deep ruby beer which had a very loose light tan head. The nose was very much coffee to the fore, with a slight toastiness in the background which kind of made me think of breakfast. The roasty notes from the nose played on through to the drinking, so be followed by a smooth gentle caramel flavour which rounded out the beer nicely. With the coffee and roastiness it would be easy to see this as a very toned down stout, but without the cloying feeling you sometimes get with stouts and porters. The finish was long and dry,

Having had stout in mind, it was time to move on to the big beast.


Imperial Walker Texas Ranger Stout is an 8.5% ABV brute of a beer which is very dark indeed, with just the merest tinge of crimson at the edges. Even before I got the glass to my nose I could smell the coffee, big walloping dollops of coffee, with an almost milky background and as the drinking wore on a distinct boozy glow. As with many a stout, coffee and chocolate dominate the flavours, espresso and dark chocolate respectively. In the depths of winter, this would be a great beer to come home to and sip by the fire, a lovely drop indeed.

So, 3 good beers from Fredericksburg and well done James!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

From the Cask


Admittedly the pictures in this post were taken about a week ago, and posted on Twitter. It was only this morning that I realised I hadn't written anything about how the beer from my little cask actually tasted as opposed to just looked. The beer in the cask was my Gael 80/- Scottish Export Ale and although it looks really dark in the picture above, when held up to the light it was a bright crimson.


One thing I learnt after the first pint burst forth from the polypin was that to get a decent head I needed to press down on the polypin when pouring. Drinking your own real ale from a cask really makes you appreciate the difference between a beer being nicely conditioned and overly fizzy, and I know without doubt which I prefer.

In terms of the actual taste of the beer, the chocolate and caramel malts I used are very much to the fore, with just the slightest hoppy bitterness in the background - just as it should be. The first couple of pints were a touch thin, but after a few days they body filled out a bit and made the beer rather moreish. I was a bit worried that the beer would lose condition quite quickly from the cask, but it stayed good for about 10 days.

So I think my cask ale was a success, from both a technical and a drink point of view, and I may have to buy a couple more pins, and if Mrs Velkyal and I find a house to buy within our budget, I can see a beer engine becoming an essential!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Little Cask to Go Live!

This time last week I was facing something of a problem, I needed to bottle my 80/- Scottish ale that had been sitting in the primary fermenter for a couple of weeks, as is my usual fermentation schedule, the problem was I didn't have enough bottles to take all the beer. What I did have though was my 1 US gallon polypin, known in this neck of the woods as a "cubitainer", so I decided that it would do the trick and I would again try to re-create a form of cask conditioned ale.

I had tried before with my dismal failure first batch in the US, and while the beer hadn't fermented properly, the concept of using a cubitainer as a cask was something of a success in terms of proving it could be done, that and several back and forth emails with Boak and Bailey on the process.

So here it is, my little cask of Gael 80/-.


If I have understood the process correctly, the little cask, let's call him "kaskicek" (pronounce it "ka-sk-ee-chek"), should be ready to drink already, so I am planning the first draught of real(ish) cask ale from the Green Dragon Brewery to be poured into one of my funky glasses tonight.

Here's hoping everything has worked out ok!

UPDATE: it worked nicely, and although a little on the thin side, the beer was good.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Those Lovely Gaels!


Sometimes I am really impatient, especially when it comes to trying my homebrew. Generally speaking I leave my beers in the primary fermenter for 14 days before bottling and then three weeks to condition. Admittedly I sometimes dip in a bit early, purely for scientific reasons you understand, to compare the fully conditioned ale with something in progress.

Thus it was that 11 days after I bottled Gael, a Scottish ale, I succumbed to temptation and was greatly encouraged by what I tasted. Yesterday, I tried a fully conditioned bottle - as ever I am using my Cyclops variant to describe my beer. On a quick side note, does anyone else laugh at some of the descriptions you read on BeerAdvocate and RateBeer? I have no problem with the premise behind both sites, and am indeed a member of both, but some people really do write Jilly Gooldenesque bollocks. Anyway, back to my beer:


  • Sight - dark amber, orange edges, large white head
  • Smell - malty sweetness, lightly spicy, very subtle cocoa
  • Taste - toffee, light chocolate
  • Sweet - 2/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
Oo-er missus, this is nice (purely subjective opinion of course, but aren't most things?)! I believe the ABV is only about 3%, making it a nice session beer, but it has a decent medium body so isn't watery when drinking it. One thing I noticed in particular was just how clear and sparkling the beer was, when I brewed it I used Irish Moss for the first time. Only a few bottles of this remaining in my cellar, and they'll be gone soon enough!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Machair Mor and Gael 80/-

In the next couple of weeks I plan to do a couple of brews and so went to the local home brew shop to pick up the necessary hops and special grains to complement the DME on its way from Northern Brewer. While at the home brew shop I also picked up a clear 3 gallon carboy, so that I can make smaller batches of beer and because it is transparent will actually be ale to see what is going on.

The first one to go into the new carbaby will be an imperial stout, which I am calling Machair Mor - for those not from the west coast of Scotland, machair is the fertile land between peat bogs and the beach, and mor is the Gaelic word for "big" or "great". Machair Mor is inspired in part by Wrasslers XXXX from the Porterhouse in Dublin, which I really enjoyed when I was over in Ireland last year. The recipe for my beer is as follows:
  • 1.75kg Light DME
  • 250g Chocolate malt
  • 100g Roasted barley
  • 100g Flaked oats
  • 30g Galena, boiled 60 minutes
  • 10g East Kent Goldings, boiled for 15 minutes
  • 5g East Kent Goldings, boiled for 5 minutes
  • Wyeast Irish Ale
According the Beertools recipe calculator, this should give me an OG of 1.089 - by far the biggest beer I will have made to date, with a projected ABV of 8.7%! In terms of IBUs, my hopping schedule will apparently yield 51 IBUs, just on the lower end of the scale according to their style guides.

The second beer is kind of my autumnal quaffer, an 80/- ale which I am calling Gael 80/-. The recipe for this one is:
  • 1kg Light DME
  • 55g Crystal 60 malt
  • 30g Chocolate malt
  • 12g Fuggles, boiled for 60 minutes
  • 5g East Kent Goldings, boiled for 15 minutes
  • 5g East Kent Goldings, boiled for 1 minute
  • Wyeast Scottish Ale
Again, according to Beertools, the OG for this should be in the region of 1.048, giving me an ABV of 4.5%. The IBUs rating for this recipe is 17, again on the lower end of the spectrum, but as Scottish ales are not particularly hoppy anyway, not a problem.

I decided to go back to using the yeast smackpacks from Wyeast as they always fermented when I used them in Prague, so it was a case of better the devil you know. I will also be using Irish Moss in the boil for the first time, so it will be interesting to see what effect that has on the clarity of the end products.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More Cream from the Cat

Last night I was at Pivovarsky Dum for the tasting session with Pivovar Kocour Varnsdorf, where they presented 6 of their beers, most of which I had tried in Plzen at the Slunce ve Skle festival. However, I was looking forward to trying their 12 degree lager and Scottish Ale as well as re-trying their stout, which I had at Slunce ve Skle but by that point the note book was in my pocket and I was focusing on drinking.

The first offering was their unfiltered and unpasteurized 12 degree lager, which is a pale golden colour, Mrs Velkyal noted that it looked like sunflower honey, with a nice slightly off-white head. On the nose there was a touch of smokiness that put me in mind of the wonderful Schlenkerla Helles lager, as well as some cidery notes. Again like the Schlenkerla, the lager has a nice, crisp clean flavour, and the the first few mouthfuls are refreshing, although I found the body a bit thin for my tastes, even watery after a while. I found this to be quite bitter, with a low level of sweetness in the background.

I was really looking forward to the Scottish Ale as it would be a taste of home. The beer itself was brewed by a Scotsman who came over to make it. It pours a light brown, which put me in mind of McEwan's 70/- and had a smallish head which was a slightly darker ivory. There was very little on the nose, Mrs Velkyal commented that she didn't like what she could smell, and I thought it smelled like cigarettes. However, it tasted quite good, with a light caramel flavour, the only problem from my perspective was that is was a touch too bitter for a Scottish Ale and I would have liked to see more body and a fuller sweetness in the beer.

The highlight of the night for me was the stout. This stout is jet black and comes with a fantastic foamy brown head. The nose is full of roasted coffee and made me think of a fine Italian espresso, just wonderful. In the mouth it is smooth with the coffee notes balanced by a nice touch of chocolate and even a certain creaminess. The body was a little on the light side, which I actually found helped the drinkability of this beer. With a touch more sweetness than bitterness this is a beer I could merrily drink lots of - and the sooner it is a regular on the taps of Prague the better.

One of the things I really enjoyed about last night was comparing beers with Mrs Velkyal, it is said that women have better palates than men and so to get her input was interesting - for example with the stout, where I was enjoying the roasted coffee she thougt it teetered on the edge of burnt rather than roast. It was also a pleasure to finally meet Evan Rail, as well as seeing Honza from the brewery itself again. So a few hours with people who love their beer made it a throughly pleasant evening.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...

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