Category: Beer & Whisky

Beer! Stewart’s Pilsen and Hefeweizen

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about beer, probably because I haven’t been drinking as much recently. But since I picked up a couple of new beers at Craigie Farm today, I thought I’d post my thoughts on them here.

Both beers are brewed by Stewarts Brewing in Edinburgh, who make some cracking beers. I had a pint of their Pentland IPA in my local the other day, and I highly recommend it.

The first I had tonight was their Pilsen. I’m not a huge fan of lager styles, but I do like a good German Pilsner. This had a classic lager aroma, and poured a large and frothy head. The palate delivered a clean, tangy zing from the Saaz hops. Nicely bitter, this is quite a refreshing beer, and a good indication of the Pils style.

Next up was their Hefeweizen, a Bavarian style wheat beer. Pouring this produced a very cloudy and vibrant orange body with a huge head. Initially the taste was a bit disappointing, but after a few mouthfuls, the delicate banana flavours came through on top of orange and clove. A very lively and effervescent beer, one I enjoyed the more I drank.

Both very enjoyable beers, I’d certainly buy them again. One slight complaint though would be the price; at £2.49 each for 330ml bottles, they’re not the cheapest. But, given that they are rarely brewed, being the special beers, I can’t criticise the pricing too much.

Meanwhile, in my own little brewery, I’ve got 21 litres of oatmeal stout fermenting away nicely. This is my first attempt at an all-grain stout, it smells great at the moment and I can’t wait to try it in a few weeks time. My summer ale is being drunk at a decent pace, it’s a fairly good session beer at just 3.5% ABV.

Now time to find some more beers to drink and write about during next weeks NFL games…

Kilchoman Inaugural 100% Islay

Today I took delivery of the brand new Kilchoman release, the Inaugural 100% Islay.  As the name suggests, this is the first release that has been “produced from barley grown, malted, distilled, matured and bottled at the distillery”.  The ABV is 50%, it has been aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels and it is a very young 3 years old.

The bottle itself comes in a tasteful cardboard presentation box, and features a new bottle design, with the Kilchoman logo inset near the neck.  It almost seemed a shame to open it!  Almost…

The colour is very pale indeed, like straw.  On the nose, it’s initially pears and ginger beer, then the smoke comes through.  Not as aggressive as a typical Islay malt.  But the taste!  This is an incredibly drinkable malt, even straight at 50%.  I can only describe it as like drinking the syrupy juice from stewed and smoked fruits!  A touch of sweetness to begin, with definite lemon flavours before the peatiness kicks in.  The finish has a hint of tobacco, but with a lingering citrus that makes it rather moreish.

Adding a touch of water brings out more stewed fruit on the nose, while on the palate the intensity of the smoke is increased slightly, along with the sweetness.  I think I prefer this one straight.

This bottling is a limited edition, if you like what you’ve read here, I encourage you to go order a bottle, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.  I’m off to have another…

All-grain brew: Wheat Kings

Yesterday, after finally getting hold of all the equipment I needed to do so, I did my first ever all-grain (or full mash) brew.  This was a Bavarian Wheat Beer, which I’ve named Wheat Kings after the Tragically Hip song!  The whole process took about 6 or 7 hours, and I had to leave the wort to cool overnight.  I’m going to try and get an immersion wort chiller before the next attempt.  Things went okay, but not completely perfect.  I made a few first timer mistakes, as expected, hopefully nothing major though.  The main thing was that I only managed to get 15L of wort, when it should have been around 21/23L, lesson learnt here is to calculate what my losses will be in advance, and suss out the sparging process a bit better.  I liquored back and ended up missing the target OG of 1048, it came out as 1043.  I think this could turn out to be a bit thin, but time will tell.

My 3-tier set up, HLT starting to heat up:

Doughing in:

Giving the grains a good mix:

Batch sparging:

Spent grains:

Boil started and hops added:

Transferring to FV:

Beer review: Duvel

Duvel is a beer I’ve seen loads, but never actually tasted.  I was a bit wary of the 8.5% ABV, but was pleasantly surprised.  On the pour, I was greeted with a very hefty bubbly head which took a minute to subside.  The aroma is of pear, and reminded me of some perry I tried recently, quite light and sweet.  It’s an unexpectedly drinkable beer, impressed that the alcohol does not come through to overpower the palate.  There’s a definite flavour of green apples, with an enjoyable late tang of lime citrus.  Not sure this would do as a session beer, but rather as a wee treat or a good drink to start a session with.

Colour: Very pale yellow

Head: White, huge and bubbly

Aroma: Pears, reminiscent of pear cider/perry.

Flavours: Hoppy bitterness, green apple-like.  Bit of citrus tang.

Verdict: A quality, deceptively light-tasting beer, which has the advantage that high alcohol level does not dominate the flavour.

ABV: 8.5%

Duvel HGG Rating: 79


Beer review: Brewdog Prototype 27

I was lucky enough to win a bottle of Brewdog’s latest experimental beer, Prototype 27 (thanks Martin Dickie!).  Only 150 bottles were produced and with this in mind I must admit I felt a wee bit guilty at drinking it. But only a little bit…beer’s for drinking after all!  Besides, the make up of the beer (Hardcore IPA, fresh Scottish raspberries and old Islay malt whiskies) meant there was zero chance of me leaving it untouched.

Colour: An attractive deep red, ribena like.

Head: Yellow-tinged, very energetic but short lived.

Nose: There is definite summer fruits and a cut-wood aroma, it’s an intense but pleasant attack on the senses.

Flavour: Straight away I’m hit by the bitter-sweet raspberries, aided by the lively wee attack on the tongue from the carbonation.  Soon the powerful hops kick in, giving a fiercely bitter yet tasty bite.  The bitterness then gives way to a classic Islay style finish, with it’s big and smoky peat flavour.  There’s a good malty body in there too, giving a biscuity finish while the smoke covers the tongue.  I’m reminded of summer forest fires and picking wild berries as a youngster!

ABV: 9.3%
Verdict: This is an incredibly flavoursome fruit infused beer, stunningly hoppy with the unmistakeable taste of Islay.  Where can you go wrong with that?  Shame it’s only a limited edition of 150 bottles, this is a cracker.
Brewdog Prototype 27 HGG Score: 92/100



Beer review: Stewart Brewing Hollyrood

It’s been on my mind for months to start reviewing the whisky, beer and wine that I’ve been enjoying (it has to be said, there has been a lot of them!).  So tonight I finally get round to starting.  First up is Hollyrood (ABV 5%), a beer brewed by Stewart Brewing in Edinburgh.  I picked this up today at Craigie’s Farm just outside South Queensferry.  I’d had the pleasure of trying their Pentland IPA just before xmas in a pub in Edinburgh…can’t remember the name of the place, but it’s near the Queens Hall!  I loved that pint, was hoppy as hell and had a really memorable complex taste.  So when I saw some of their bottled beers for sale, I figured I’d pick one up to try out.  With me being a lover of all things hops, I chose the Hollyrood as it’s byline is ‘Pale, Light and Hoppy’.  That’s pretty much always going to interest me!  What did put me off however was the name…Hollyrood doesn’t really tell you much anything about the beer, nor is it particularly memorable.  For me, it’s a dull and uninspiring choice, and surprising given the good level of branding that Stewart Brewing have for their cask beers.  Anyway, onto the important stuff…

On pouring, I was liking the look of the beer, as it produced a nice foamy head.  This was short-lived though, as the head disappeared in no time.  In fact by the time I took a solitary picture of it on my iPhone, the head was completely gone!  Usually with my pouring technique, I end up with a huge head and a seemingly endless wait to finish the pour and get to the drinking!  So this struck me as rather odd.  The beer itself is an appealing golden orange in colour.  Getting my not insubstantial nose into the glass, I was struck immediately by the hop aroma and distinctive grapefruit.  Just what I was looking for!  On the first mouthful, it’s an instant tangy hit, lots of citrus, with the hoppy goodness coming through after.  There’s a good level of bitterness, but not in any way overwhelming and it complements the primary flavours perfectly.  There’s a touch of malt on the finish, which is incredibly tingly, and oddly, reminds me of orange Tango!  This is a flavoursome (tinned grapefruit certainly comes to mind here), clean and refreshing beer, but I found that it seemed to get ‘flat’ as I drank it…it kind of lost it’s flavour and ‘punch’ the more I drank and by the end seemed lifeless.  Makes me think it should maybe have been chilled a little longer before drinking.

I’d like to try this one again, but to be honest I wouldn’t rush out to get it.  Not because I didn’t enjoy it, but rather because there is so much choice out there, a beer has to be really special to get on the list for regular purchases.  This strikes me as more of a summer beer, and I reckon it would be excellent with a light meal.  Making a mental note to get this one when it’s that 3-day window when the weather here in Scotland is good enough to have dinner outside!

I need a rating system for reviews, but haven’t thought of anything overly interesting yet, so I’m going with a score out of 100, calling it my personal Hop, Grain and Grape (HGG) score!

Stewart Brewing Hollyrood Beer HGG score: 76