Historic Ales of Scotland (Concluded)

historic_ales_scotlandIt’s just one day to Christmas, and as expected, I finished the pack of Historic Ales early. Call me self-indulgent, but there was simply no way I couldn’t let my curiosity to get the better of me. It’s been many years since I drank from this pack, and my tastes have become somewhat refined in that time. And interestingly enough, I found that I actually enjoyed the experience more this time around. So without further ado, here are the last two samples from the Williams Brother’s historic lineup.

ebulumMy favorite of the pack, the Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale is brewed in accordance with the Celtic tradition that was introduced to Scotland by Welsh druids in the 9th century. Traditionally, this ale was crafted and then passed between the people of the village during the Autumn festival. The recipe for this particular beer was taken from a 16th century record of domestic drinking in the Scottish Highlands and is brewed with roasted barley and chocolate malt, then infused with elderberries to deliver a dark, rich, malty beer with a stout-like flavor that also has some satisfying fruity notes. It is also the second strongest beer of the collection, weighing in at 6.5% alc/vol, making it an all around very pleasant drinking experience. Whenever I get a pack, I usually go for this one first. I feel my restraint this year is to be commended!

Appearance: Deep brown-black, clear, mild foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark malts, stout-like, mild fruit aroma
Taste: Rich malt start, hint of sweetness, discernible fruit
Aftertaste: Slight tartness and lingering dark malt flavor
Overall: 9/10

fraochThe most ancient and venerated style in this collection, Fraoch takes it name from the Gaelic word for “Heather”, and just happens to be the oldest variety of beer still consumed today. For over four thousand years, this sort of beer has been brewed in the Highlands, and is often associated with the Picts who ruled Scotland until the 9th century (hence the label art, which is Pict-inspired). The beer a combination of boiled barely, sweet gale, and an infusion of heather flowers, a flora native to Scotland. Until the 18th century, when British law mandated that Scottish brewers begin using hops, it was extremely popular.  And although it is very understated and subtle, much like the Grozet, I can certainly see the appeal. In addition to being golden in color, the beer also has a sweet, honey-like smell and taste, with a touch of peaty flavor, and is one of their lighter beers, weighing in at 5% alc/vol.

Appearance: Deep gold, cloudy, mild foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malts, notes of honey and flowers
Taste: Very mild malts, notes of honey, peat moss, mild pine
Aftertaste: Mild lingering honey taste, very clean finish
Overall: 8/10

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go get more Christmas beer. Somehow, my supply became mysteriously depleted… Merry Christmas to all and hope it finds you surrounded by friends, family and plenty of good food and spirits!

Innis and Gunn – Canada Day 2012

In honor of Canada Day, I’ve decided to review a beer that was also made in honor of Canada Day. Strangely, this Scottish brewery has been doing this every year for the past several years. Thought it is made and bottled overseas using overseas ingredients, the labor is apparently one of love for the Great White North.

As usual, Innis and Gunn age their beer in oak whiskey barrels and combine ale and barley malt with Golding hops to get a beer that is dark, rich, and kind of sweet. It also combines the characteristics of both a whiskey and a ruby ale, being both malty, smokey, mossy, and a little bitter.

Appearance: Deep ruby red, bordering on brown, and clear
Nose: Whiskey malts and peat moss
Taste: Sweet toffee, slight hop bitterness giving way to distinct whiskey flavor
Aftertaste: Peat flavor and lingering dryness
Overall: 7.5/10

Happy Canada to all! And to those Americans still waiting on Independence Day, know that Innis and Gunn has begun releasing another beer in honor of your national holiday as well. And the reviews are comparably good, from what I can tell! I shall have to make another trip to the beer store soon just to be sure 😉

Brewdog Trashy Blonde Ale

Hi again! Well I’m back with another new beer, this time from Brew Dog breweries, the famous craft brewer that comes to us from Fraserburgh, Scotland. Already I have tried their 5 A.M. Saint and felt it was one of the best Amber’s I have ever had. And as you can see, they have quite a lineup.

Unfortunately, we are somewhat limited in terms of what we can get here in BC. Aside from 5 AM and Trashy Blonde, I have yet to find another variety by them. Too bad too, because I’m sure I would enjoy it. But onto what the Trashy Blonde has to offer:

Appearance: Golden, pale and transparent, rather light for a pale ale
Nose: Coarse malts, reminiscent of a strong Belgian blonde
Taste: Distinct, Belgian-style malt, similar to Duval, giving way to a good, citrusy hop bite
Aftertaste: A long lingering bitter taste combined with a bitter malt finish
Overall: 8.5/10

Personally, I’ve never been too big of a fan of the type of coarse blonde ales Belgium has been known to produce. And yet, I found I enjoyed this one quite thoroughly. I’ll also have to be sure to pick up some more 5 AM because that baby deserves a stellar review too. Well, finding it won’t be hard since I now know of two places that it likes to hang out. Something to do this week I guess!