This time of the year, what with Hogmanay and Burns' Night and all that, I'm reminded that I'm a descendant of the border clans, the Bells and the Cornicks (when they met in Dudley back in the sixties). Since both occasions are a reason to, eh erm, make merry, I find these roots extremely convenient and a bloody good excuse should I go overboard a little.
With this observance in mind I've tried to create a totally new style of ale threaded with an ancient traditional streak - a peated pale ale. I love the faintly smoky and peaty whiskies of Islay, to sip late at night with a friend over a game of snap, but anymore than a thimble full gives me an overhang like I've spent the night drinking bog water and smoking dried thistles. Instead, why not an ale, a pale hoppy bitter-sweet one, that has a faint reminiscence of top single malt piercing through every now and then. A thoroughly refreshing brew with a long, slightly phenolic peat & smoke finish to it that after a while just begs a further gollop. Why not indeed?
And so I present to you:
I got hold of some smashingly bitter Challenger hops (grown in England, unfortunately Scottish hops are rare indeed) and a little peated malt. I won't pretend it was plain sailing - finding advice on the use of this odd ingredient was a pretty toilsome task - some said use very little, some said don't be shy, chuck the lot in. I went for slightly above the middle ground and worried for a fortnight that the beer would taste of nothing but Lambert & Butlers, however, I believe it's matured very nicely and is well worth a good quaff alongside your vegetarian haggis, tatties & neeps.
It's available on draught in the shop to take away ("with wings" is the splendid parlance favoured by those modern types in London Town these days) in the usual formats and I'll make more available as demand requires. Being a bit cautious, I only did the one brew so many apologies if it's run out by the time you get to visit.
January is inclement and abstemious at best so remember what the big man himself said:
"Gude Ale Keeps the Heart Aboon!"
(He may have been a famous poet but his spelling was dreadful.)