This is something I'd seen ages back at the National Railway Museum in York and decided that I must try. Luckily for me I managed to wait and buy it elsewhere. The bottle was not changed but the price was much better for my wallet and for that I am grateful. However much I like an ale I do prefer paying my usual for it and this came in an offer. By all means buy it if you are ever at the NRM but bear in mind that they have an additional mark up over supermarkets.
What is it? Why, it's Caledonian Flying Scotsman that is as much based on a train as you can get with some yeast, some hops and some water brewed and then bottled for your drinking pleasure. I had it alone, with no food accompaniment, and unchilled.
There is a distinctive, and not unpleasant, smell when you open the bottle; a snick of carbonation, but that just carries the malt and the hops to the nose. The first sip proved it to be a proper Scottish bitter, on a par with Black Sheep rather than the creamy Cumberland brewery. It was sharp, tangy and with an underlying maltiness that gave it a weight befitting something with 4% ABV. It let you know what you were drinking and there is no way that it could sneak up on you and leave you drunker than you realised. In many ways it really is based on a train. Let me explain: once you start drinking this it is clear that each sip will increase the speed, so to speak, of the taste getting to you and you build up quite a head of steam by the end of the bottle. That's not to say that it demands to be drunk in groups, but at the same time I was disappointed to reach the end of the bottle and thus the experience.
If you're a fan of malty tangs, as I appear to be, then you will enjoy this very singular taste. I haven't had anything else from this brewery yet but if this was anything to go by then perhaps I ought to be having more of them and soon to sample just what can be done by these guys. It is properly Scottish too, soft on the tastebuds whilst also packing a nice punch that will leave you warmed and glad to have taken the time to listen to what it had to say. Easily holds it own, and I suspect would make a good partner to any strongly flavoured food because it has such a distinctive taste of its own, it wouldn't back down in favour of anything less than a particularly strong curry I'd imagine.
Drink with a meal, maybe something by the Pogues playing in the background and reminisce on the inter-sectionality of the Celtic world, their trials and tribulations and the evils of bloody Cromwell. Imagine a steam train whistling and barrelling through a darkened landscape, snorting its way up a hill and drawing an express sleeper behind. And then, when relaxed and happy, nod sagely to your drinking companions and begin that game of dominoes that you've promised to do for such a long time and never got round to. A good, strong ale with plenty to recommend it.