During the recent wintery spell we had here just over a month ago (or the Beast from the East, as it was christened) I had the great idea of dumping a load of my beers outside, to keep them cold. And it was a great idea - to begin with. Until we had about another foot of snow on top of the foot we'd already had. Thus, a few random bottles of beer went missing among the multiple drifts that covered my back garden.
And time moved on. Eventually, the snow all melted away, but by that point I'd already moved on to other beers and the snow beers (as I've just this exact second decided to call them) were forgotten.
That is, until the other night when my beer supplies were running low and I 'discovered' them again (i.e. actually bothered to go looking for them). Yeah, they were right there beside the back door all along. And what? I'm lazy. Deal with it.
And so, because of that happy coincidence, I was reunited with an old friend; a beer that I'd drank before, but never really paid attention to. Which, on reflection, was a bit of travesty; a miscarriage of justice; or some other bollocks. Anyway, that beer was Black Isle Brewery's Scotch Ale. And a rather enjoyable brew it was too.
I'd had this particular bottle for some time now, among the stash of beers I keep in the shed. And for some reason, I'd overlooked it. I can't quite explain why - it may be because it was hidden behind other beers; it may be that in my relentless search for new beer, I tend to overlook ones I've already tried. Whatever the reason, fate had obviously conspired to point it in my direction on Saturday night, pre-Caramel Fudge Stout. This was a fortuitous thing for both this beer and me, as it meant I still had my wits (and taste buds) about me to give Black Isles brew the attention it deserved.
Just a quick note here before I dive into the meat of the review - I'm contemplating legal action against Black Isle Brewery for false advertising; not only is Black Isle not an island (its a peninsula), it also isn't black! They are running a rather fine brewery though, so at least a third of the name is correct...
(Also, I'm just kidding and that was a crap attempt at humour.)
"Not only is Black Isle not an island (it's a peninsula) - it also isn't black!"
So what is the ale like then? Well, on a website about beer, that's a pretty damn good question. What BI have brewed here is a smooth, malty concoction - as befits the style - with minimal bitterness, but big, bold flavours. It's a little fruity (ooer) - dried fruits, like raisins, sultanas - with a sweet caramelly (is that a word?) or toffee-y (that definitely isn't a word) tones. If anything, it reminds me of Adnams Broadside, or one of the Festive beers - something like Festive Pudding Ale, from Greene King, two beers I liked a lot - so something like liquid fruit/Christmas cake (although nicer than that analogy would suggest, obviously). It's warming and comforting too - something we definitely need in this part of the world during the - ha - spring months. At 6.5% too, it'll definitely help warm your cockles.
As a direct result of this beer, this style - Scotch ale - has become one of my favourite styles. I'll confess to not knowing a great deal about the style before now, despite being Scottish myself. I think I'd always assumed that it just meant a beer that was ridiculously strong, that could melt through steel. Something that the jakes drank, along with cheap cider and super ale. I was wrong there and I'll admit my mistake. It's a great type of beer, full of flavour and easy to drink, that's perfect for quaffing on these shitty winter, er spring, evenings.