Thursday, 12 March 2015

Beer Review: Scottish Ale

Tonight is a bad night to be posting anything like this as it is the day that Sir Pratchett died. I enjoyed his work, recognised what he was doing with it, didn't always see what he saw. But I did get his jokes. I did see his humanity. I did concede that he often had better arguments than I did, or do. He was important in a way that few people can claim to be and humble in a way that few important people truly are. Greatest respect to the man, condolences to the family in a place no one connected to them will ever read. Here.

But I never knew Pratchett personally. I do not know anyone who knew him. So this blog will continue as it always has, because... well, that's the point isn't it?

I'll be honest, I got this ale because I hadn't had it before, it was cheap (on offer) and it was in a small bottle. At the time I was looking for brews that were cheap and cheerful, good for an evening after a long day at work. So it is that, tonight, I find myself having Belhaven Scottish Ale. But why the delay? I got this in months ago! It's stronger than I thought, is the answer, and I have to confess that I found it worthy of a review.

Without further ado, then, it's time to begin. Would you like to know more?

On pouring I was surprised to see such a dark ale with such nutty and deep tones to it. It could easily be mistaken for a light stout with that colouration but the aroma reminds you that this is simply a strong ale: plenty of yeasty overtones with a definite dry malt beneath and light on the hops, though the bitter note pricking at the nostrils confirms that this is ale rather than a deep coloured lager. There is a bit of a head on pouring, but nothing sensational and it doesn't last a great deal of time nor does it look like wort after a bit of sitting. Fizz is minimal but definite and there is a crispness to the pour that I did raise an appreciative eyebrow over.

First taste is not that surprising. The deep brown colour prepares you for a dry and malt-based experience. Sure enough, there is a nutty beginning that instantly swarms about the tongue and then the malt comes through, shot through with yeast, filling the mouth and feeling a little dry. There's no mistaking the hit of 5.2% ABV, which may not be that strong but definitely lets you know that this is no light ale for sessioning. Bitterness does ramp up toward the end of the taste but the nutty nature of the brew wins out. There's a hint of the soft heather peatiness of Fraoch (here) about this ale, but that my be psychosomatic and down to the St. Andrew's Cross on the neck of the bottle.

The bottle claims that there is subtle spice from the Challenger and Goldings hops but I have to say that my impression is that there is more drama from the yeast than from this combination. Not to say that I couldn't taste the hops throughout, nor that they are bad combination, but the malt and the yeast seem to hold the show. I rather like that show, I'm not saying I would hang about at the stage door afterwards, and I didn't, but it was a pleasant enough distraction and worth the ticket price. Roles were played with aplomb and little fuss, it won't win any awards but, at the same time, buying in won't feel like a waste. Nothing memorable in the songs, if you catch my meaning, but there's a repeated rhythm and set of chords that you'll be humming when you least expect it and so there's a good chance you'll go again.

As extended metaphors go, that may rank as one of my more esoteric. You're welcome?

Best enjoyed at lunch I would expect, with something like a soup or a round of sandwiches. A work-a-day meal with a work-a-day ale. No surprises, no drama to speak of and a pleasant feeling all round from the feel and the taste. Could be had in a brace, but a 330ml bottle will also do the trick quite nicely.

No comments:

Post a Comment