An Article. Say it in hushed, whispered tones. You don't want to scare it away. It is a thing of beauty, a rarity, an experience shared by few. Like the lesser-spotted low flying snow Dodo except with beer. A beacon of hope. A heartbeat in an almost flat-lined ECG Trace.
My main issue lately is I've been drinking a lot of the same stuff on repeat. Feel like I have checked in Elvis Juice by Brewdog a million times this year, to the point I think I have sickened myself of it regardless of how much I actually like it. Other than that it has just been a collection of other familiar faces and nothing overly worth getting excited about.
"Feels like I've checked in Elvis Juice a million times this year, to the point I think I have sickened myself of it."
I took a wee family trip a couple of weeks ago to Tummel Valley near Pitlochry for a wee bit of R&R. As always, a mini beer shop was done before-hand but again, nothing out of the ordinary. I knew though that being that little bit off the beaten track - around 2 hours from where I'm based - there would be a good chance I'd stumble on a couple of beers not typically seen in the shops near me, or even in some of the bigger online distributers yet. After all, as much as I seem to have chewed (probably not the right terminology) through a large number of Scottish based beers, I likely haven't as much as scratched the surface of what's out there. I remember a conversation with a girl working in Jeffrey Street Whisky & Tobacco about Scottish Craft Brewers and I'm sure she rattled off a figure like 280 known craft breweries. I'm sure that number has gone up by now (if indeed that is even close to a correct recollection) - including the all new and shiny offering from our very own Andy @ http://lennoxbrewery.com So there's always more wee gems to find squirrelled away from around the highlands and what have you.
Unfortunately I really didn't discover very much if I'm honest. The one place I did spot some beer on sale was at Queens View in Tummel Valley in the Visitors Centre. Great wee place really - staff super friendly and helpful. Check out the Haggis Pies in the Cafe - absolutely tremendous. I always feel though that these wee tourist hotspots are vastly overpriced though for the souvenir bits n bobs you can pick up. Behind the counter they had a 4 or 5 of the 500ml bottles from the Loch Ness Brewery range. Now, they were priced at £4.50 a pop which I think is astronomical for a locally sourced beer. Someone on their holibags touring round Scotland might not think too much about that kind of costs as they might think it a bit of a keepsake etc. but it really isn't all that rare. You can get it pretty near me if you look hard enough and it certainly won't set you back almost a fiver for the privilege. You only have to have a wee look online to Cairngorm Brewery who I think are the parent company of Loch Ness to see they are selling their stuff on the site at £2.30 a pop for the same big 500ml bottles. That's almost a 100% mark up by the Gift Shop meaning they get whatever their margin is in the 1st place for stocking it plus a full £2.20 clear of the maximum they paid for it. I do think that is absolute robbery - needless to say I never bought any. I'll pick some of theirs up though as they are getting some good reviews - particularly Dark Ness, their Stout.
"Is there anything nicer than someone gifting you beer? I'll await a better answer."
Anyway to come away empty handed is a bit gutting, but the wee break wasn't about a beer hunt but the family and they had a great time. However, I was super pleased to get a wee message from my parents advising that while they were in Pitlochry on one of their own days out, they picked me up a couple of beers. Dear Lord - is there anything nicer than someone gifting you beer? I'll await a better answer. Can always count on my rents to find the silver lining in a cloudy day. They'd popped in somewhere and tried to select a couple that they'd either never seen me with or didn't recognize themselves. They struck gold on both too which is a fairly noteworthy feat. The first bottle was Pale Keith IPA which I am yet to try but have had a couple of their other offerings and thought good things.
The second beer - and the subject of this rambling that would make Homers Odyssey look like a short story - is Wasted Degrees Rye IPA. Now I have to put my hands up and admit I'd never heard of this Brewery before now. But as per the start of this article there are certainly plenty of them out there so it's not surprising for ones to turn up I've never heard of. These guys are based in Pitlochry and look to have been going a relatively short time. They do have a nice clean & modern website to have a browse around though which is always good. I had a wee check on Untappd for the Rye IPA and the barcode hadn't previously been registered. Manually searching I found the brewery and the beer. The Brewery is listed on there as a Home Brewery so it might well be a nice small operation. Certainly the check in count for the Rye IPA is only standing at 23 with what looks like under 100 in total for the other beers they have had available at different times. So, needless to say I'm pretty damn chuffed that the rents managed to stumble upon one of these.
How does it taste though? That's the burning question. Absolutely spot on is the answer. I've had a few Rye's this year and I do think they offer something a bit different to the norm. A welcome break away from some of the IPA monotony I've bemoaned recently. It pours a rich deep dark reddish colour with a reasonable head on top. There is a nice malty aroma straight off the bat. In comparison to your often bland IPAs this Rye IPA has a big bold flavour - nice hoppy body with what felt like a spice or heat to it - almost like a pepper or mild chilli. There is a big warmth to each mouthful. It feels a bit heavy but not in a bad way at all and is finished off with a trace of sweetness of a caramel I thought. It rocked in at a punchy 5.9% as well so it's no sleeper. You can sense the strength in it.
"How does it taste though? Absolutely spot on is the answer."
All in all this was a brilliant find. I'm super stoked to have been given this. Their understated delivery on both the bottle design and online / social media presence is brilliantly offset by the talking the beer does. If this is the standard they have set then I really look forward to tasting more of their beers in their catalogue. They have a Hopped Up IPA advertised on their site which if even half the beer this RYE IPA then it is on to good things. I'm not sure what their distribution and availability is like across the country but if you spot one of these occupying some shelf space in a store near you get it fired into the basket immediately.