It’s been marked on my calendar for weeks, a trip up to Inverness-shire & Ross-shire to visit two breweries and The Anderson’s extreme beer festival.
@beeryme and myself set of from Aberdeen train station on Friday just after 8am. After arriving in to Inverness just after 1030 we jumped on to a bus which took up took us the 25 minute trip in to Drumnadrochit.
Loch Ness Brewery 04/04/14
Our first port of call was the Loch Ness brewery which is located in Drumnadrochit. The brewery is around a 10 minute walk from the bus stop on Kilmore Road. As we walked in to the building we were greeted by Alan and Graeme who were running around like mad bees! While sparging (the step at the end of the mashing process where hot water is run through the grain bed to extract the wort) Alan explained that the brewery which was previously a British Legion bar is a stop gap until a new bespoke brewery is built
We also spoke about the growth of breweries within the local area and their own brewery. Alan then spoke about growth from outside the UK with Victory and Sam Adams in the USA and a Russian company also wanting to distribute their product.
We were then shown around the brewery, I’m always surprised by how small these places are but compared to the 2 barrel set up previously this 8 barrel set up must feel huge!
After being allowed to smell some of the gorgeous red ale which was fermenting in the tank we let the guys back to work!
After this we walked down to the Benleva Hotel which was where the Loch Ness brewery started originally. We shook the rain off and got settled next to the bar.
The bar had three Loch Ness beers on cask, and to my delight they had the fantastic Caith Ness on along with four other guest beers.
We were sadly unable to get a chance to talk to Steve or George as they were both snowed under with the business side of the brewery.
Just as we got settled in, it was time to head back to Inverness (this is a bar that I will be returning to)!!
After a quick stop in Inverness for a sandwich it was time to get the bus to Fortrose for The Anderson’s extreme beer festival.
The Anderson Extreme Beer Festival 04/04/14
The bar opened it’s door just as we arrived at 1600. As we entered the bar we gazed at the list of amazing beer as can be seen below:
CROMARTY/SAND MAN HAWAIIAN LUAU (5.5%, Scotland) Collab brown ale fermented with BBQ pork and smoked, grilled pineapple (yes, meat beer!)
TO ØL F*CK ART THIS IS ARCHITECTURE (5.0%, Denmark) Ultra-hoppy Belgian-style farmhouse ale brewed with brettanomyces (editing is ours — we’re not very sweary)
MIKKELLER DRINK’IN THE SUN (1.4%, Denmark) American-style wheat “microbuzz” ale
BREWDOG/EVIL TWIN HELLO MY NAME IS SONJA (8.2%, Scotland) Collab double IPA brewed with fresh blueberries and Mosaic hops
CROMARTY/TEMPEST CONE HEAD (7.4%, Scotland) Lightly-spiced barley/oat/rye ale brewed with toasted pine cones and fermented with Ardennes yeast
LEVAIN FRANKEN RYE BREAD SOUR (3.5%, England) Belgian-style farmhouse ale brewed with sourdough rye bread and fermented with wild yeast
BROOKLYN CUVÉE DE BÔITE (8.2%, USA) Belgian-style grand cru brewed with lemon, saffron, crystalized honey, lime leaf & chile pepper
MIKKELLER/BRODIE’S BIG MOFO STOUT (10.5%, England) Imperial stout “collab beer” brewed with liquorice & cranberries
PILOT ICED TEA ALE (6.0%, Scotland) Pale ale infused with tea leaves and spiced with lemon grass
SIREN 7 SEAS (6.0%, England) Black wheat IPA seasoned with seven different ultrahops
HIGHLAND IMPERIAL STOUT 2010 (8.0%, Scotland) Vintage imperal stout gently aged in The Anderson’s stone cellar
MARBLE GINGER 5.1 (5.1%, England) Copper-colored ale infused with fresh ginger and spiced with clove & coriander
BREWDOG WATT DICKIE (35%, Scotland) Ice-distilled hop-a-licious IPA — served in 25ml portions only –
POPPYLAND CRAB APPLE SAISON (7.2%, England) Bottle-conditioned saison brewed with Norfolk barley and crab apples
MIKKELLER MAD3 WEED BEER (3.5%, Denmark) American-style wheat beer brewed with fresh grass from Refshaleøen
DE MOLEN SPANNING & SENSATIE (9.8%, Hollland) Imperial stout brewed with cacao, chili peppers & sea salt
HELLER AECHT SCHLENKERLA RAUCHBIER MAERZEN (5.1%, Germany) A distinct taste of bacon from this old-school extreme beechwood-smoked lager
(I’d do tasting notes for all of these but I’m only going to select a few to save people getting bored!)
The first beer I went for attracted me because of it’s general lunacy, Cromarty Brewing’s- Hawaiian Luau (keg), which is made with smoked and grilled pineapple and PULLED PORK! Yes, pulled pork. This has resulted in a beer that was definitely a crowd splitter.
The colour is cloudy orange/brown colour with a very thin white head.
The nose has pineapple notes, dark treacle, slight smoke, Jamaican ginger cake, dark cane sugar. There are notes of dark malt and spice but apparently none are put in??
On tasting start has a slight citrus prickle but this is followed by and almost greasy note. There are hints of smoke, pineapple and fruit sugar syrup. There are nips of sweet sugar and treacle too.
This coats your mouth like a soap sweet??
Next up was Pilot – Iced tea ale (cask).
On appearance the beer is light amber – golden colour with a white head.
The nose has smoked tea note, small amounts of citrus, red berry, lemon skin, orange pith & light sugar.
On tasting there are mild floral notes, hints of smoke, light tea hints, lemon and orange pith.
The finish is very dry.
Poppyland – Crab apple saison (bottle).
Golden colour with a thin head from the bottle.
The apple is noticeable in the aroma even at a distance!! Hints of lemon and line with notes of sherbet also. There are notes of orange and herbs also.
Theres a huge smack of bitter apple, lime leaves, sherbet, lemon, white grape & elderflower.
Very dry finish!
The food as always to accompany these fantastic beers was just as good! I indulged in a beef hough stew which was just gorgeous!
After this it was time for the return trip to Inverness where I spent the night and rested for the next day!
After a night of a sofa I awoke feeling roughly 50 years older and got ready for a return to one of my favourite breweries!
Cromarty Brewing (05/04/2013)
After the winding bus ride we arrived in Davidston (5 minutes from Cromarty).
Craig greeted us along with the guys from six°north who had joined us.
Craig took us around the brewery showing us his in progress boiler room, which he is building at the same time as making his beer!
Since my last visit in February his brewery has grown to 16 barrel but again I imagine he is no where near reaching the demand for his beer!
As I walked around I was stunned by the fact that even after more that 2 years all of his equipment glistens, you get the impression that Craig loves what he does so much he sits awake at night polishing the tanks.
Then came the words I’d secretly waited for all day! Would you like to try some of the Kowabunga. This is the new American style pale ale, with a huge amount of American hops which created beautiful tropical fruit nose teamed with a really refreshing pineapple and mango hit!
After the guys from six°north and Craig had a chat about something…no idea what…but surely something exciting in the future!
It was sadly time to leave!
After a wait for the bus it was back to Fortrose for the final part of the weekend!
The Anderson 05/04/2013
Following trying the beers on the festival list the night before, it left me free to explore the phone book sized beer list! Contemplating my choices while tucking in to a Korean style 12 ounce burger I settled on a bottle of Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Ops.
This the 10.5% 2012 version, is and imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels has hints of dark chocolate, vanilla and chilli was just fantastic!
Then Jim Anderson appeared with a glass of Hair of the Dog’s Eve. An eisbock which weighed in at 12% and was bottled 18 years ago! The beer had held up well having thinned out and oxidised to the point of tasting like a very good port!
After a couple more beers and some great conversation it was sadly time to return to Aberdeen.
I can’t advocate going to enjoy the beery delights which are scattered around Inverness-shire & Ross-shire!
My thanks to @beeryme, Jim Anderson @TheAndersonUK, Craig Middleton @Cromarty Brewing & Steve, George, Alan and Graeme @lochnessbrewing along with everyone else who made this trip possible!!