Whisky, hag­gis, kilts ... and a crack­ing beer

Life & Style Weekend - - EASY EATING - with Si­mon Ir­win More at [email protected]

IF YOU close your eyes and think of Scot­land, what do you see? Sunny skies, cheer­ful peo­ple singing in the streets and go­ing out of their way to as­sist you… hang on, that’s Dis­ney­land, not Scot­land.

Grey skies, grey build­ings and a pop­u­la­tion de­voted to pas­sion­ately fol­low­ing Rangers or Celtic is prob­a­bly where many peo­ple’s thoughts would drift.

There is the rugged scenery, Rab­bie Burns, thou­sands of years of his­tory and of course the whisky. Ah, the whisky!

Surely one of life’s sim­ple plea­sures is sip­ping away at a glass of some­thing made in the High­lands, Low­lands or Is­lands that is won­der­ful to drink and dif­fi­cult to pro­nounce (yes, Auchen­toshan, Caol Ila and Bruich­lad­dich sin­gle malts – I mean you!).

What you don’t tend to think of dur­ing a flight of Cale­do­nian fancy is beer.

In what came as a sur­prise to Hugh the Neigh­bour and to me, you can ac­tu­ally buy Scot­tish beer in our lo­cal Chapel of St Daniels. And crack­ing beer it is too.

The Bel­haven Brew­ery is about 32 kilo­me­tres east of Ed­in­burgh at Dun­bar on the coast of Scot­land and has been mak­ing beer since 1719, al­though the re­gion traces its brew­ing her­itage back to some monks in the 1100s.

HTN and I tried the Twisted This­tle IPA and it is very drink­able. With a full strength 5.6% al­co­hol con­tent, it pours cloudy in the glass, is full of hops in the Amer­i­can style of IPA, and you get a nose­ful of cit­rusy grape­fruit when you take a sniff.

The hops is there in spades. How­ever, as Hugh pointed out, you get real bit­ter­ness in the mouth but it doesn’t linger as an af­ter taste, un­like some of the Amer­i­can IPA that for mine can be al­most over-hopped. This gives the beer real ses­sion­abil­ity, and you could en­joy more than a cou­ple on a hot day.

And more im­por­tantly, in keep­ing with the Scots’ rep­u­ta­tion for, shall we say, look­ing for value when they spend, sur­pris­ingly good value. Again, a note of cau­tion…

As with the last brew re­viewed in this col­umn, this one too was older than the “best by’’ date on the neck of the bot­tle, which I would hate to think was be­com­ing a com­mon oc­cur­rence on liquor mega-mart shelves.

That said, it was a great drink and I shall cer­tainly be go­ing back for more, al­beit af­ter peer­ing at the date on the neck of the bot­tles.

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