We love beer. Oh, we stock a lot of wonderful wine and some rather sumptuous whisky, but beer is all about the love. We have been seriously excited to drink our way through the last few glorious years of exceptional, inventive and downright cheeky brews that have touched on any (and every) combination of ingredients that it’s possible to make something that might be considered beer from. We also love a genuine effort to make something good and local, which pushes not at the frontier of madness, but at the understandable desire to create something uniquely Scottish. Why? Well because, it’s a good thing. Improving the local economy, the environment, the boundaries of agricultural science… if there’s anyway to make our drinking more socially responsible we’ll do it. You know, for the greater good and all.
St. Andrews Brewing Co. are all about local, and rather good beer – twice the makers of Fife’s Champion Beer, CAMRA Best Bottled Beer in Scotland, multiple Great Taste Golds. With their recent launch of what we are – almost – certain is the first commercially available 100% Scottish beer, a new chapter in Scottish brewing has opened! Harvested and brewed on the same day, three hop varieties were used in the brew: the English varieties of First Gold and Pioneer as base, bittering hops and the main event of Cascade, a classic American hop variety that delivers tangerine and other citrus aromatics. Cultivated by the smart folk at the James Hutton Institute over in Dundee, all three were grown in polytunnels as half height dwarf varieties, standing a mere 4.5m tall. This is the bit of genius, since generally hops in the UK don’t grow well much north of Kent, and it opens up the possibility of some really exciting future crops in the many polytunnels across Scotland. Using the hops whole and ‘wet,’ (basically chucking them in near the start of brewing to impart maximum acidity to the beer) rather than dry hopping to give more aromatics, embraces the vintage and variability of the harvest as well. The water is from the Lomond Hills, the malt is from Scottish grain, the yeast is propagated in St. Andrews and, to top it all off, the chap who made it, Assistant Brewer Colin Wiseman, is Scottish too. We are sure that there are jokes to be made about the English head brewer and Irish co-owner in there, but we’ll leave that to you!
A beautiful golden colour in appearance it’s a quirky beer: musky and earthy on the nose with hints of warmer citrus tones and fresh cut grass. The palate has a sherbet lemon acidity upfront and a nice malty weight that gives way to a long, fresh finish that carries the musky notes of the nose through to the end. All in, a really nice, refreshing beer that has shown off the first Scottish hop harvest at its best!
St. Andrews Brewing Co. Harvest Beer 2016, 4.6% ABV, £2.60 per 330ml bottle. Available from Luvians in Cupar and St Andrews while stocks last.